The current extreme hot weather this February, and over the last few weeks, is very difficult for mothers of babies, especially very new babies who cannot regulate their temperatures as well as adults can. Even adults are struggling in extreme heat.
Have a look at my earlier posts on this blog for specific topics. Here is a summary of key points that are relevant right now:
- If you have air-conditioning, please use it for your baby. It doesn't have to be at the coldest setting, but enough to let you and your baby feel comfortable.
- If you don't have air-conditioning, work out the best way to make use of fans.
- The best place for your baby, if you don't have air-conditioning, is well away from external walls of your house or unit, perhaps in a central passageway.
- Light clothing, or just a nappy, is all your baby needs indoors.
- Draw the curtains or blinds to keep the glare (and heat) out. Bright light only makes it hotter.
- Sponging your baby down will help keep him cool. If the water in the "cold" tap is hot (which it is at my place right now), you may need to put a small bowl of the water aside for a few minutes to cool down.
- Avoid the beach with a baby, especially a very young baby. It can be a very hot place to be, with some spots on the beach even hotter. The dangers result from direct sunlight and reflected light from the sea, sand and other bright surfaces.
- It's best to avoid backyard pools till the sun is low, e.g. after 5 pm, for similar reasons.
- If you have to go out, avoid being in direct sunlight in the heat of the day if at all possible. A hat for your baby and a light wrap to keep the sun off delicate skin is important if you have to take your baby out into strong sunlight between your car or bus and the supermarket or other buildings.
- If you are in a shopping centre with its air-conditioned public areas, I'm sure you know that is a good place to stay for a while, sitting, meeting with friends, or window shopping. Air-conditioned libraries are also good places to hang out for a few hours.
- Breastfeeding as often as needed will keep your baby well hydrated and safe on the hottest days as the composition of the milk changes to meet needs. (See my other blog topics on hot weather.) It often means lots of small breastfeeds to assuage thirst and longer breastfeeds when it is cooler, e.g. after the sun goes down.
- You may need to place a small towel between you and your baby during feeds if skin contact is hot and sweaty.
- If your baby is sleepy and not showing interest in the breast, sponging her down with cool water will often help her feel comfortable and ready. You may want to sponge her down part way through the feed, too.
- If you baby is lethargic and sleepy and not as alert as usual, and her urine looks dark or she isn't passing much urine, medical help is indicated.
- For you (and other adults), urine is a good guide to hydration. Your urine should be clear and light in colour. If it becomes darker, this is a signal to drink more fluid, immediately.
- It is easy to forget your own needs when you are busy with a baby. Keeping some water beside you when you sit or lie down to feed is a good idea - and old tip, but a good one.
- It is good to see most adults now carry a water bottle, often a large, refillable one, so that they can stay hydrated on the go all day.
- Light, cotton clothing is cooler than tight clothing or synthetic fabrics.