Yes, summer does that to your baby – transform him/her from a little bundle of joy to an irritable and shrieking tiny-horror troubled by dehydration, rashes, sunburns and itches all over. It leaves you wondering how you can make the first summers of the baby’s life cool and fun. Here is how:
Keep your baby out of harsh sunlight
Summer is no reason to keep your baby locked up at home; every baby needs its share of fresh air and sunlight. However, a baby’s soft sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable to lasting sun damage. So make it a rule to stay indoors between 10 am and 5 pm when the heat is unbearable. Instead, go for a stroll in the relatively cool early morning or evening. While outside, remain in the shade as much as possible and avoid too much direct sunlight.
Proper clothing keeps the baby cool
Synthetic fabrics make the baby hot and uncomfortable. Besides, it blocks air passage causing prickly heat or rashes. Cotton clothes are the ideal choice as they keep the body cool and allow air to flow freely. The baby’s head and face can be easily protected with a wide-brimmed hat – preferably, one without a constricting elastic band.
A dollop of sunscreen – is it safe for babies?
Sunscreen in summer is crucial because sunburns sustained in the first 15 years of life are responsible for skin cancer later. Though there are no confirmed reports that sunscreen itself is unsafe for babies, you might choose not to apply it on infants less than 6 months old. On older ones, an SPF 50 sunscreen recommended for babies protect skin against UV rays from sun. A generous quantity of this sunscreen should be rubbed into skin 30 minutes prior to stepping out into sunshine; for added defense, dab sunscreen on parts of skin covered by clothing. While driving in a car or even on a cloudy day, let every inch of your baby be sunscreen protected!
Sunglasses make your baby look and feel cool!
Opinion is divided but some suggest that good quality sunglasses can protect babies’ eyes from sun. Plastic fancy/toy goggles are damaging to the eyes and do not offer adequate protection. Always, buy good quality sunglasses – whether for your baby or for yourself!
Keep the baby hydrated at all times
A baby’s surface area is high compared to body mass, so they get dehydrated quickly. Babies below 6 months of age should be breast-fed whenever they like. Others must be encouraged to take extra drinks of water at regular intervals. If signs of dehydration – no urination for 4 – 6 hrs, crying without tears, sunken eyes etc – are noted, give enough water and apply a wet sponge to the forehead at once, to revive the baby. If symptoms persist rush to a hospital: your baby could be suffering from heat stroke.
Keep your guard up against food poisoning
There is at least one group that loves the heat and humidity of summer – microbes. They flourish in foodstuff causing food borne illnesses. To avoid contamination, wash your hands clean before handling food; all surfaces coming in contact with food, like dinner service, cutting boards etc should be meticulously clean. While traveling, carry moist towelettes or tissue for cleansing. It is safer to discard food left out of refrigerator for over 1 hr. The water your baby drinks can be as much a source of microbes as the food: see that every drop of water ingested is safe.
A pristine baby pool delights and cools
Splashing in the backyard pool affords the baby instant relief from heat. And for the parents, it is a delightful scene to watch. Make the experience hassle-free by ensuring that water is treated to kill microbes: otherwise, it can lead to pink eye, sore throat, cold etc, or diarrhea, if water is accidentally swallowed. From time to time check diapers and in the event of a leakage change the water. Remember not to change diapers by the pool; take the baby to the bathroom instead. In summer steer clear of public swimming pools, spas etc. All this guarantees that your baby is playing in water that is as fresh as it looks.
Drive those insects away
Swarms of insects launch full-fledged attacks, and those nasty red rashes on pudgy hands and feet make us wonder if babies are explicit targets. To shield your baby against bites deploy insect-repellents, preferably with natural ingredients, like oil of lemon, eucalyptus, citronella etc; use a product safe for babies and follow directions. While applying, avoid their hands (obviously enough, they put their hands in their mouths all the time!) and the area around mouth and eyes. Wash off as soon as possible. Apply more to clothing than to skin. However, insect repellents may not be safe for infants under 2 months. In case you are repelled by repellents, as some parents are, invest in long trousers, long sleeves and a mosquito net; lighting citronella candles in the evening can drive mosquitoes out of your house. As a matter of principle, avoid infested areas, and start clearing that wilderness in your backyard!
Erase those rashes and itches
Even babies sweat profusely in hot weather. Accumulated sweat clogs skin pores (especially under the elastic band of nappies) causing rashes and itches. Cloth nappies fashioned out of good quality cotton dries sweat faster. Frequent bathing, moisturizers and medication help banish those rashes and itches. Home remedies like applying yogurt or a cooling pack of Fuller’s earth and rose water can alleviate rashes. Greasy moisturizers and commercial talcum powders should be rejected as they make the condition worse. If you are in the habit of giving the baby oil massages wash the oil off thoroughly.
Sometimes, bringing up a baby seems like a whole lot of responsibility, doesn’t it? Except, before their arrival life was not nearly as rewarding. And we wouldn’t dream of taking chances where they are concerned, would we?