Summer Safety Part 2: Heat Safety
The heat is on, and if you’re like a lot of parents, you might be wondering how to keep your baby safe during the summer months. Look no further, because LinnieLou is talking all things summer safety for babies in our special, two-part series.
In our previous blog post, we asked Dr. Kersha Pennicott, a board-certified pediatrician, to share her best sun safety tips.
Today, Dr. Pennicott is giving heat, water, and insect safety information and tips.
Keep reading for all the details!
Heat Safety For Babies
Your baby can overheat quickly, so Dr. Pennicott said it’s important for you to know the signs of an overheated infant, which include:
- Fewer wet diapers (indicating dehydration)
- Extreme fussiness that doesn’t subside after being fed and/or changed
- Extreme sleepiness or lethargy
- Skin that is hot to the touch
- Flushed, red cheeks
“If you notice these signs while being in the hot sun, promptly bring your child inside to an air-conditioned environment and hydrate them,” Dr. Pennicott said. “If you have any concerns at all, call your pediatrician or bring them in for medical attention.”
Dr. Pennicott’s “Stay Cool” Tips
Prevention is best!
“Keep your kids out of direct sunlight and avoid peak sunlight hour exposure and very humid days,” she said.
She also said you should dress your baby in breathable, light-weight fabric to protect his skin from the sun and help him stay cool.
Lastly, she said to keep your infant well-hydrated on hot days.
“Hydration is key! Babies under 6 months should not have free water as it can cause electrolyte issues, so give more breastmilk or formula,” she said. Babies over 6 months can have small amounts of water several times a day.”
Stay Cool on Summer Nights
Dr. Pennicott said while there isn’t an evidence-based rule regarding temperature settings at night, she suggests keeping your baby’s room between 68-72 degrees.
“To help achieve this, keep your baby’s room cool during the day by closing the blinds,” she said.
She also said a fan is a great way to keep your infant nice and cool, but don’t aim it directly on him.
And here’s a cool tip: “If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, place several bottles of ice around the room and in front of the fan to help keep things cool,” she said.
Lastly, Dr. Pennicott said to make sure your baby’s crib sheets are made of breathable fabrics such as cotton and be mindful not to overdress him.
“If you notice damp hair, sweating, flushed cheeks, or a heat rash, then your baby may be overheating. Being too hot while sleeping can increase a baby’s risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” Dr. Pennicott said.
Water Safety for Babies
Each year almost 800 children drown according to SafeKids.org.
That’s why Dr. Pennicott said water safety is critical–especially during the summer months.
Got a pool? If so, it should be directly surrounded by a fence that’s at least four feet high.
And if your kids are playing in or around water there needs to be at least one adult who can swim to serve as a water monitor. (Splash pools count, so make sure your child is monitored around these, too.)
And get this: Dr. Pennicott said that “floaties” should be avoided. Why?
“These are not appropriate substitutes for a life vest and can give kids and parents a false sense of security.”
Instead, she recommends parents and caregivers take water safety courses through organizations such as the American Red Cross.
A Note On Swim Lessons
Dr. Pennicott said swimming lessons should be accessible for all children, but popular “water survival” classes marketed towards parents of babies less than one-year-old have not been shown to reduce drownings.
“Learning to swim is very important, but no amount of training can ‘drown-proof’ a child,” she said. “All swim classes should be taught by CPR certified instructors.”
Once again, prevention is key..
Dr. Pennicott recommends parents:
- Eliminate areas of standing water around the home
- Ensure all windows have tightly fitted screens with no holes
- Avoid products with fragrance–these can make your infant susceptible to bug bites
- If your baby is less than 2-months-old, avoid areas where insects are prevalent.
Also, dress your baby in long, light layers and tuck their pants into their socks when outdoors.
Finally, if you’ve spent a significant amount of time outside, be sure to check your child for ticks when you return indoors.
According to Dr. Pennicott, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control recommend insect repellents with DEET for children two months of age and older.
Repellants with 10 percent DEET concentration provide about two hours of protection from insects, while those with 30 percent concentration can protect wearers for up to five hours.
“Use the lowest concentration needed for the amount of protection desired,” Dr. Pennicott said.
When applying bug spray:
- Never spray the repellent directly on your baby; instead, spray into your hands and carefully place it on your child avoiding sensitive areas, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid applying repellent to hands, since babies often put their hands in their mouths.
“Insect repellents are safe when used properly following product directions and are the best defense against insects like mosquitoes and ticks,” Dr. Pennicott said.
To Sum it Up
- Your child can overheat quickly, so Dr. Pennicott said it’s important for parents to know the signs of an overheated infant, which include extreme fussiness, fewer wet diapers, and extreme sleepiness.
- There isn’t an evidence-based rule regarding temperature settings at night, but Dr. Pennicott suggests keeping your baby’s room between 68-72 degrees at night.
- Almost 800 children drown each year, so water safety is critical.
- Pools should always be surrounded by a fence at least 4-feet high.
- When playing in or around water, at least one adult who can swim should serve as a water monitor.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control recommend insect repellents with DEET for children two months of age and older.
Remember to check out our first Summer Safety blog post here, and tell us: what are your biggest concerns when it comes to summer safety for your little one.
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