Why is safety an issue with keeping my baby cool?
Rapid changes to body temperature can upset your baby, while some practices that might be effective for an adult or older child are less so for a baby.
Babies are far more sensitive to external stressors than adults. One of these is the sensitivity babies have to temperature changes – babies simply don’t have the same capabilities as adults to regulate their body temperature.
Not only do babies lose body heat rapidly in the cold, but they can also overheat just as fast. This shouldn’t be a cause for worry or concern, rather something to keep mindful of in extremes of temperature – especially heat.
What should I avoid?
- Avoid giving water to a baby under 6 months of age. Not only does this reduce their appetite for breast milk (their sole nutrition source) but it can also lead to acute health issues associated with water intoxication.
- Don’t crank the air conditioning. This tends to dry the air, which can in turn dry your baby’s skin and also lead to respiratory irritation.
- Try not to expose your baby to ice packs, cold water baths or even cold water wipes. These can send a nasty shock to your baby’s system.
- Avoid travelling – especially in the car – during the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest, and always avoid direct sunlight during these hours on your baby’s sensitive skin.
What can I do?
- Use a cool mist humidifier to disperse moisture into the air. To reduce the risk of moisture build-up and mold growth, make sure to use it in a well-ventilated space (or a room with at least two openings) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- A good setting for climate control or air conditioning is 24 degrees, but avoid keeping it on relentlessly overnight. Timers are useful for this.
- Try a tepid bath or wipes dipped in tepid water. The evaporation from your baby’s skin will help gently draw body heat away.
- Make use of a ceiling or stand fan. These are super effective in addition to tepid water wipes, but be careful not to place your baby directly in the fan’s path. It will be enough that the room’s air is circulating.
- At bedtime, dress your baby as you might dress yourself (except for the nappy!) Swap a singlet for a onesie, and take advantage of a light mesh swaddler or sheet.