Keeping Our Kiddos Safe In Summer - Preventing, Recognizing & Treating Overheating & Dehydration

Summertime is so much fun with little ones, but it can also be a dangerous season if we don't consider how to keep our little ones cool and hydrated during extreme heat. Babies and young children have a smaller amount of liquid in their body, so dehydration can progress more quickly than in adults. Additionally, babies and young children can't sweat as well as adults, so they can have a hard time cooling their bodies down once they begin to heat up, putting them at higher risk of overheating. That's why it's very important to keep a close eye on your little ones on hot and humid days. Most of the time we can recognize the early signs and symptoms of dehydration and overheating (heat exhaustion & heat cramps) and work to prevent any serious issues. If ignored, these can progress to Heat Stroke and Severe Dehydration - which are a medical emergency and life threatening. 

As a CPR & Safety Instructor and mom of 3, I get lots of questions about keeping kids safe from the sun and heat in the summer months. So today, I'm sharing a few tips on keeping your kiddos safe from the sun, and preventing overheating and dehydration. Plus how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses, and what to do if you're concerned about your little one. 

How to Keep Littles Safe In the Sun: 

  • It is recommended that babies under 6 months old stay out of the sun, and sunscreens are not recommended. If you absolutely can't keep baby shaded from the sun, a small amount of sunscreen is typically safer than sun exposure to their sensitive skin.
  • Cover up as much skin as possible with light loose breathable clothing
  • For kids and babies over 6 months use a broad spectrum sun screen of SPF30+ daily on exposed skin, and don't forget to reapply frequently. This is my current favourite
  • Use a brimmed hat and UV protective sunglasses (if your little will keep them on!)
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible
  • Use UV protective clothing and swim suits
  • Use umbrellas to create shade 

When parents are concerned about sun exposure they often cover their baby completely, putting them at a much higher risk of overheating. Here are some tips to reduce that risk and keep babies & big kids safe on hot days. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Heat Related Illnesses:

  • Stay home on heat/smog advisory days, or head to air conditioned spaces e.g. libraries, community centres, shopping centres
  • Dress in light breathable natural fabrics
  • Play outside before 10am & after 4pm when the sun is less intense
  • Play in the shade
  • Use a sprinkler, water mister, or fan to stay cool
  • Encourage hydration throughout the day. Breastmilk/Formula are the main forms of hydration for infants under 1 year, but a small amount of water is appropriate if you're concerned about their fluid intake on a hot day. Clear fluids like water and coconut water are ideal. You can flavour water with fresh fruit for a nice change. Popsicles are also a great way to hydrate and stay cool. Kids can get distracted when having fun, so make sure you stop regularly for hydration breaks.
  • Eat foods with high water content eg. watermelon, cucumbers, cantaloupe, blueberries, oranges etc
  • Never leave a baby, child or pet in a parked car, even for a moment. A parked car can reach life threatening temperatures within minutes. 
  • When out and about with your stroller or car seat avoid using plastic sun covers, and never fully cover your baby. A few years ago a Swedish research study showed that a covered stroller or car seat can become dangerously hot very quickly, even with a light muslin blanket. If you are using a stroller cover, please ensure it's a UV protective breathable mesh cover, or ensure you don't cover the entire opening. Always prioritize air flow to baby. 

You should always be able to see your baby's face without lifting up the fabric. Oh hot sunny days I use a set of Kiddie Clips to hold a light weight blanket in place which creates good sun cover for Penny's bare legs, but does not block the air circulation to her face. If you're ever draping a blanket over a car seat please ensure there is adequate air flow and that baby is always visible. (*Special offer from Kiddie Clips below)

  • If you're babywearing try to choose a carrier made of a lightweight breathable fabric like linen, or one with a mesh panel to allow air flow. My favourite in the summer months are my Sakura Bloom Linen Ring Sling and my new I-Angel Hip Seat Carrier with mesh panel. If you or baby is getting too hot make sure you take a break and remove baby from the carrier to cool off in the shade or inside. *These are only 2 examples of carriers which are ideal for summer wearing. I always encourage parents to "try before you buy", as you never know what will fit you and your babywearing needs best until you try it with your own baby. Join me at my monthly FREE Babywearing Drop In to learn more about babywearing, or to try any of my carriers. 

Even when we follow these recommendations overheating can happen in our extreme climate. Learn the signs and symptoms below so you will know how to recognize heat related illnesses early, and treat them to avoid an emergency.

Signs and Symptoms of Overheating and Dehydration:

  • Change in behaviour eg. lethargy, drowsiness, irritability
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Decreased urination/dark yellow urine
  • Headache
  • Extreme thirst
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Weakness/Fainting
  • Fever
  • Rapid breathing & heart rate

What to Do If You Notice Concerning Symptoms: 

  • Bring person to a cool place indoors, an air-conditioned car, or shady area
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Encourage hydration (clear, non-caffeinated, non-carbonated liquids are best)
  • Apply a cool wet cloth to skin *Here's one of my fave mom hacks for summer. If we're headed out on a long summer day trip I always plan ahead and freeze a few water bottles in the deep freeze the night before. The frozen bottles stay cold late into the day and keep the rest of the food/drinks cool. They can be used to hydrate, but can also be applied to the back of the neck/wrist, or thawed cold water can be poured over a piece of fabric for a compress, to help cool someone off if need be. 
  • With mild symptoms continue to encourage hydration and monitor closely. 
  • If they are refusing liquids, and symptoms are not improving or becoming more serious, contact your health care provider or head to a clinic to get health care immediately.
  • Always call 911 if situation becomes life threatening (eg. overheating or dehydration causing rapid breathing, a true fever, increased heart rate, fainting, unresponsiveness)

I hope these tips make you feel more confident caring for your babes in our hot summer months. In my experience parents focus so much on their little ones well being, and often forget about their own. So here's a friendly reminder for all parents, and especially the nursing mamas out there, to up your hydration during the summer months so you to keep up with the increased hydration your body needs.

If you want to learn more about keeping your family safe throughout the year check out my Infant/Family CPR & Safety Workshops (Private in-home and public group classes available). As a little gift please use code: sunsmart10 for 10% off your own set of Kiddie Clips. Please post any questions or comments below, and let me know if you have any topics you would like me to cover. 

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IN THIS POST: 

Ollibaby Kiddie Clips *10% off code: sunsmart10    |    I Angel: Grey Chevron Hip Seat Carrier    |    Tiny Trendsetter: Chambray Bonnet & Saltwater Sandals    |    Diaper-eez: UV suits, Baby Sunglasses *10% off code: Withcare   |    Sakura Bloom: Linen Ring Sling     |     Uppababy Vista Stroller    |    Bonjour Baby Baskets Little Unicorn Official Strawberry Blanket 

*This is a sponsored post which means I was provided compensation and/or product for this post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.