Everybody knows, we English folk just lurve talking about the weather!!! We spend all winter complaining that it’s miserable and we can’t wait for the summer to arrive, and then when it does, BAM, we complain it’s too hot! There’s no winning. But when the weather in question is the blazing hot summer of 2018, which saw temperatures peak at 35.6C (in Faversham, Kent just in case you were wondering), it’s understandable that people want to talk about it. As a mum, knowing how to keep my girls cool and safe is something that I take very seriously. I’ve realised that in order to actually enjoy the summer with my girls, I need to be prepared. Here are my top tips on How To Survive a Heatwave With a Baby (without staying inside all summer).
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Remember that scorching hot summer in 2018?
Last summer seems like a lifetime ago. As a mum of two preschoolers, I can barely remember what I did yesterday, let alone 8 months ago. But I seem to have a vague recollection that it was fairly warm. And when I say warm, what I really mean is that I could feel the skin on my body burning just by looking outside! Yup, that warm!
Too much sun can be dangerous for anyone! As ‘responsible’ adults, we get to decide how much sun we allow ourselves to soak in. Sometimes, if you’re anything like me (which I hope you’re not in this instance), the desire for a ‘healthy summer tan’ battles against the reality of how dangerous the sun can be. Sensible, doesn’t always win this contest, and the prize is often sore shoulders and a promise not to let this happen again. Doh!
I take my both daughter’s skincare and general well being much more seriously, you’ll be pleased to know. The truth is, that whilst too much sun can be dangerous for anyone, this is especially true of babies. And their safety is in our hands.
Is 2019 going to be the hottest year on record?
Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that one. Sorry. But what I do know is that the Met Office is already forecasting another hot summer. Whilst that sounds great for BBQ lovers out there (me me me!), it also serves as a sober reminder that I need to get prepared. Prepared so that my little munchkins can enjoy the summer. Safely. My girls’ safety is my number one concern when planning ahead for this year’s summer heatfest.
It is recommended by experts, that babies under the age of 6 months old, should be kept out of direct strong sunlight altogether. Easy Peasy! We’ll just spend out summer watching the glorious weather from the comfort of our lounge then. Can’t wait!
To be honest, when your baby is very young, like six months old or younger, keeping them out of direct sunlight is fairly straightforward. And I say this as a mum who took an eight week old baby to Florida last July. I’m not exaggerating when I say that while we were out there, temperatures reached 37C, with the added humidity making it feel like 43C. Keeping Sophia in the shade and cool was my number one concern whilst on holiday. Forget sun-worship, I was definitely a devoted shade-seeker on this particular holiday!
As it transpired, keeping a tiny, sleepy eight week old baby shaded and protected from the sun, was pretty straight forward. They tend to stay where you put them, so as long as you’re in the shade, so are they. Disney also has these amazing, air conditioned, comfy, Wifi connecting private rooms available to nursing mothers, which provided a haven for us to escape the oppressive heat for spells.
But lessons learnt on my Disney trip is for a future post. Subscribe to my blog here to be notified when new posts are published.
I’m pretty sure that a one year old, super inquisitive, almost mobile baby, and a three and a half year old ball-of-energy toddler, may be slightly more challenging this summer.
Having said that, if you’re like me and don’t want to spend your whole summer indoors, there are 3 super simple things you can do to help protect your little ones from the scorching sun:
1) Shade is your friend
In case you were skim reading the first part of my post, and missed this important information, allow me to repeat it. Experts recommend keeping babes under 6 months old out of direct strong sunlight altogether where possible.
Exposing babies and children to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life.Taken from the NHS Article ‘Sun Safety For Children’
When the baby is over six months old, it’s still important to keep them in the shade where possible. Just like for us responsible adults, the sun is dangerous when we spend too long, unprotected, in it’s path. We can protect our littlies simply by providing or finding as much shade as possible whilst out and about.
Trust me. You won’t regret it.
2) Keep Hydrated
Children and babies are especially vulnerable to dehydration, particularly in hot weather.
In the warmer weather, it’s super important to look out for any signs that your baby may be dehydrated, including:
- dry lips and mouth
- less than 6 wet nappies in a 24 hour period
- dark urine
- no interest in taking breast or bottle
- a sunken fontanel (soft spot) on your baby’s head
- no tears when the baby cries
- excess sleepiness
If you think your baby may be dehydrated, you should seek medical help immediately.
During the warmer weather, it’s really important to make sure your baby/toddler is drinking enough fluids. In addition to drinking more, dressing your child appropriately helps keep their bodies cool, which in turn slows down the loss of fluid. Helping them stay hydrated.
3) Sunscream, suncream, suncream!
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s recommend that babies under the age of six months should be kept out of direct sunlight, as opposed to just covering them with suncream and hoping for the best. In fact, it’s not recommended that babies under six months old wear suncream at all. Avoidance of direct strong sunlight, coupled with appropriate clothing and a hat (whilst making sure baby doesn’t overheat) are the recommended methods of sun protection for the very young.
Once your baby reaches six months old however, it’s OK to start using sun cream to help protect their skin. But not all sun creams are created equal, and not all sun creams are recommended for use on babies delicate skin.
If you’re like me, and are yet to fully investigate the different offerings out there, here’s some research carried out by others to get your started:
- The Independent – 10 best sunscreens for babies
- Hello! – 10 of the best sun creams for babies and children
- Health – These Are the 7 Best Sunscreens for Babies and Kids
I plan on investing in a few different creams to try out next month. Watch this space, and I’ll report back to you with how I get on.
Let’s be honest, it’s simply not practical to stay inside 24/7. Is it possible to keep them safe whilst venturing into the great outdoors? I think so! Keep reading to find out How To Survive a Heatwave With A Baby (without staying inside all summer).
Once you’ve embraced the life of shade, drank your body weight in fluids (not recommended by the way) and slathered on the sun cream, what next? Over my past three years of sunshining with littlies, I’ve found a few essential go-to items. These little gems are worth their weight in gold when it comes to enjoying the sunshine in safety.
We’ve used this lightweight tent by Babymoov in the garden, at the beach, on picnics in the park and at BBQs at friend’s houses. It provides anti UV protection of 50+, and is super light and easy to throw in the car, and then pop up in seconds when needed. It comes with 4 pegs to keep it in one place if it’s a bit breezy.
I’ve also found it a useful place to breastfeed with a little privacy, change nappies at the beach or park, and generally provide an alternative place out of the sun for baby and toddler to sit and play in. Or have lunch in. All with the benefit of a little shade to keep everyone a little cooler.
Zoe also likes this tent so much that she plays with it during the colder months indoors, and has little tea parties with her teddies. So it’s not just practical for summer safety but can be played with all year long. My toddler isn’t the most gentle when it comes to playing with her toys, and has been known to drag this tent around a bit. It’s pretty robust and despite all her manhandling, it’s still here, ready and waiting to provide some shade for another summer.
Top Tip: Folding it up can be a bit of a mission. But there are lots of useful YouTube videos that show you how to do it. I promise you once you’ve folded it up a few times, it becomes second nature.
In my post, 25 Essential items to make life easier for every new mum, I recommend this amazing fan, and talk about how much I use it during the summer.
Our youngest daughter was less that 3 months old when the super scorcher of 2018 hit. We used this fan every single night for about 10 weeks to keep her cool at night. I think we’ll probably be dusting this fan off from the loft in a few months time, if the weather reports are correct.
That’s great if you’re planning on staying indoors, and let’s face it, there are definitely times when it’s simply too hot to be outside, and we need some respite from the relentless heat. But what about the other 95% of the time when you want to enjoy the fleeting moments of summer? You can’t exactly lug this fan around with you to keep you all cool!
Before going to Disneyland last year, we did our own research. We wanted to make sure we had everything we needed to keep our little ones comfortable in the heat. Our research revealed these little lifesavers, and we gratefully used them EVERY SINGLE DAY of our holiday. And beyond.
On the go fans
The misting fan
Urm, hello refreshing breeze and cooling miracle worker. This little beauty easily fits into your bag, It comes with two spray settings, continuous and intermittent, and 3 wind speeds. These became our best friends whilst out and about in Disney. Although we bought these specifically for the holiday, they ended up being very useful when we came back home because it was so so hot here too.
These are all ready to be packed in our suitcase for our summer holiday next month.
The clip on fan
We also bought these amazing little fans that clip onto the side of your pram/stroller, and then can be directed towards the face/body or your little one.
Here you can see both of them attached to the pram, ready to provide our toddler with some breeze the second it got super hot again. Which was about 2 minutes after this photo was taken.
They were also used on the transfers to and from the parks when the air conditioning was not working on the coach. And we found ourselves clipping them onto the side of Zoe’s cot back home during the nights as well. Very versatile.
Hat’s the one
Not that kind of hat. I was thinking something way cuter!
Wearing a sunhat in the summer. What a great idea! When your baby is very small, this simple idea is very straightforward to implement in 4 easy steps:
- Find a cute hat.
- Extra point if the hat complements the rest of the baby’s outfit.
- Put said hat onto baby’s head.
- The end.
But something seems to happen when your baby gets a bit older, and more inquisitive. They follow the above mentioned steps but adapt it slightly so it looks more like this:
- Find a cute hat.
- Extra point if the hat complements the rest of the baby’s outfit.
- Put said hat onto baby’s head.
- Baby takes hat off head.
- Put hat back on baby’s head.
- Baby takes hat off head.
- Put hat back on head.
- Baby takes hat off head.
- Put hat back on head…
You get the picture. And let’s face it, who wants to spend their entire summer doing this dance? Not me. So what’s the answer?
Ta-da! Straps are your best friend when it comes to implementing hatwear for babies. Could it be any easier? I can’t see how! Once you have a hat which fastens under the baby’s chin, those days of spending whole afternoons playing this tug of war game with your baby are a thing of the past! And let’s face it, no one is a winner of that game.
I’ve found that straps don’t work so well on toddlers, who are smart enough to know how to undo them easily enough. But toddler’s can be reasoned with where babies cannot. I’ve found that if I explain to Zoe why it’s important to wear a hat, and let her choose which hat she wants to wear, even if it (gasp) completely clashes with her outfit, she’s much more obliging. And if that fails, there’s always the promise of ice-cream later!
Sunglasses pose the same challenge as hats when it comes to inquisitive little hands. And the solution to this challenge is just as simple.
I have just ordered a pair of these sunglasses for Sophia. Last summer, she was still very young, and we just kept her out of the sun altogether, thereby removing the need for sunglasses. But this summer is an entirely different story.
I know Sophia is pretty fiesty and will not take kindly to me forcing her to wear these little bad boys. But any fleeting guilt I may feel when forcing her to wear them will quickly be eased by the knowledge it’s for her own good. Plus, I gotta admit, they look kinda cute.
Watch this space for photos!
Zoe on the other hand, loves her sunglasses and will wear them at any given opportunity. No straps needed for this one! Excuse the sweaty look. Did I mention it was hot in Florida?
A Sweet Treat
Nothing says, “Welcome to Summer” quite like a sweet, cold treat on a hot summers day!
Last weekend, we had a rare sunny family day at the park. It was probably the first day this year that it’s been warm enough to enjoy an outdoor picnic without wrapping up. And guess which queue was the biggest one in the park. For once, it wasn’t the line for the ladies bathroom. It was the queue for the ice cream van! And in typical British fashion, everyone formed a nice orderly queue and waited [semi] patiently to get their hands on a summer treat.
I couldn’t resist letting Sophia have a little taste of my mint chocolate chip cornetto. Her first taste of ice cream. Once the initial shock had registered, she was eagerly back for more, and would have eaten the whole thing if I hadn’t cut her off.
For her benefit of course, not because I didn’t want to share…
A Healthier Alternative
But seriously, in the hot weather, it’s great to be able to give our little ones treats without worrying about how much sugar (or worse, much worse!) is in the treat.
This is where these amazing lolly moulds come into their own.
The great thing about them is that you control what goes into them! So no more nasty surprises on the ingredients front. No more children jumping off the walls, high on sugar and other rubbish. Of course, you can put surprises in them if you want to, but that’s up to you.
I usually put yoghurt inside my moulds, and freeze them. If I’m feeling particularly creative, I might add a little raspberry or something similar, to the yoghurt pre freezing. My girls absolutely love them.
Also great for teething babies!
The moulds are also a trump card when it comes to giving relief to teething babies! Simply freeze some breast milk, and then your baby can gnaw away at something cold that is nutritious, whilst soothing for their gums at the same time.
Sophia wanted me to share this picture of her tucking into her breast milk lolly. One happy little monkey. Thanks Nuby!
I am married to a Greek Cypriot hottie. I know, what can I say, I’m a lucky girl! The first time I went on holiday to Cyprus, my mother in law very wisely told me that I wouldn’t need to take many clothes, on account of it being so hot! Just the thinnest, loosest items of clothing I had, and maybe one pair of flip flops. One!
Telling me to pack light for any trip, let alone a two week holiday, was about as pointless as telling a moth to stay away from the light, or a cherry not to look so smug on top of the cake, or a toddler not to put their fist in the yoghurt and smear it all over their face.
I transgress, but you get my point.
Unfortunately for me, I didn’t listen. My brain is not programmed for light packing. I have this inbuilt need to pack for every eventuality. I have to take a large selection of clothes and shoes, ‘just in case’. After all, you never know what might happen.
It’s always nice to have options right?
In this case, no. The jumper that I took with me, yes, you read that right, jumper, stayed in the suitcase the whole time. I was there. I wore probably one top and one pair of shorts pretty much every day. Or at least, I wore them long enough to travel to the beach, where I would then remove them and just leave my swim stuff on.
And all the shoe options I took. Seriously.
Anyway, I learnt my lesson. Since then every trip to Cyprus, has been accompanies by a smaller and smaller selection of clothes. This year, with two littlies in tow, I think I may achieve a new personal best in terms of how minimalist I can be.
It’s getting hot in here
I don’t know about you, but finding the right clothes to dress a baby in during the hot weather can be a bit tricky. I literally have a drawer full of neatly (ish) folded dresses just waiting for the sun to come out. Dresses that I know have a very short shelf life. Once it gets really hot, those bad boys will not be seeing the light of day.
And they are sooooo sweet. All the ruffles and lace trimmings, and bows and general cuteness overload.
Totally impractical for a heatwave.
Less is more when it comes to dressing a baby for the heat. Which is where these awesome vests come into their own.
Disclaimer: I don’t have these exact vests! But these were the closest I could find to replicate we have. They’re all pretty much the same wherever you look anyway.
They don’t have sleeves, they’re made of cotton and they’re pretty cute. In my book, that’s all the boxes ticked. But more than that, they give Sophia enough skin coverage that I feel comfortable letting her wear them in public, whilst not overheating her.
Of course, I will still always revert back to what the experts recommend, in keeping her out of direct sunlight as much as possible, embracing the shade and covering her with a good quality suncream. But aside from these things, I think these vests are a pretty good option for her.
Plus, they’re so small, they’ll take up barely any space in my suitcase, meaning there will be more room for me to pack more of my own things…
So there you have it. How To Survive A Heatwave With A Baby (without staying inside all summer). It’s not that complicated is it really. Most of it is just common sense. Make the most of the shade, keep hydrated, wear suncream. Job done.
How do you keep your little people safe during the heat? Do you have any go-to items that you couldn’t survive without? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below if you have a top tip to share!