How can I keep my baby safe during hot weather?

Babies and young children can become ill during very hot weather. Their health can be seriously affected by:

Try these tips for keeping your child happy and healthy in the heat.

Sun safety

Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun. These tips will help keep your child happy and healthy in the heat.

  • Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour and provides some protection from the sun.
  • Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Apply a high factor sunscreen to your baby’s skin. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children with a sun protection factor (SPF) as high as 50 plus. Apply the suncream regularly, particularly if your child is in and out of the sea or paddling pool. 
  • Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun.

Avoid dehydration

Like adults, babies and young children need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

  • If you're breastfeeding your baby, you don’t need to give them water as well as breast milk. However, they may want to breastfeed more than usual.  
  • If you’re bottle feeding, as well as their usual milk feeds, you can give your baby cooled boiled water throughout the day. If your baby wakes at night, they’ll probably want milk. If they’ve had their usual milk feeds, try cooled boiled water as well.

You can be creative when trying to keep your child hydrated. If they're over six months old and they get bored with water, try giving them a combination of very diluted fruit juice, ice cubes and homemade fruit juice lollies throughout the day. For older children, plenty of fruit and salad will also help keep their fluid levels up.

Keeping cool

Follow the tips below to help keep your children cool and safe during hot weather.

  • Playing in a paddling pool is a good way of keeping babies and children cool. Keep the pool in the shade during very hot weather and supervise the children carefully at all times.   
  • A cool bath before bedtime is often beneficial.
  • Keep your child's bedroom cool during the day by closing blinds or curtains. You can also use a fan to circulate the air in the room.  
  • Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum. If your baby kicks or pushes off the covers during the night, consider putting them in just a nappy with a single layer (0.5 tog) baby sleeping bag, or a well-secured sheet that won't work loose and cover their face or get entangled during the night.  
  • A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of your baby's room. Your baby will sleep most comfortably when their room is between 16°C (61°F) and 20°C (68°F).  

Further information:

How to apply sunscreen

An expert explains why it is important to protect your skin from sunburn to help avoid skin cancer. She also gives advice on how to apply sunscreen correctly and what to look out for when buying sun cream.

Media last reviewed: 13/06/2014

Next review due: 13/06/2016

Page last reviewed: 20/06/2013

Next review due: 20/06/2015