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.
Keep your baby cool and protect them from the sun.
- Babies less than 6 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 and between 11am and 3pm, 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 sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to your baby's skin. Make sure the product also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children, as these products are less likely to contain additives that might irritate the skin. 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.
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. But 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 a little cooled boiled water. If your baby wakes at night, they'll probably want milk. If they have 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 6 months old and get bored with water, try giving them a combination of very diluted fruit juice and lollies made with very diluted fruit juice throughout the day. For older children, plenty of fruit and salad will also help keep their fluid levels up.
Read more about drinks and cups for babies and young children.
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.
- Run them a cool bath before bedtime.
- 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 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 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).
Page last reviewed: 31 May 2018
Next review due: 31 May 2021