Dressing little ones in the hot weather

Over the past few days, we have all been striping down to our shorts and singlets to cope with the heat. But what have you been doing with your little one? The rule of thumb has always been ‘one more layer on their you’. Good theory, but very few of us wear onesies or jumpsuits; mums and dads are often different temperatures’ so we have one tricky translation. To add to this confusion, what about wraps and whether we are in air conditioning?

Let’s get really literal with this old rule of thumb.
• If you have a singlet and shorts on, dress your baby in a short onesie and a light wrap.
• If you have the air conditioner on set to 24 degrees C and you are wearing a T-shirt and shorts, dress your baby in a short jumpsuit and a light wrap.
• If you are going out shopping and putting your baby in a baby carrier, dress your baby in a full length jumpsuit or pants and socks.
• A hat is important obviously if going out in the sun, but even then, the recommendation is to keep your baby in the shade as much as possible. Hats are to be removed when NOT in the sun (eg. when in a pram with a shade, in the car or going inside) as babies need to sweat from their head as it is the largest surface area. FACT: Babies can only sweat from about 30% of their body so a hat can increase the chance of your baby overheating and therefore increase the risk of your baby succumbing to SIDS if worn inappropriately.

It’s so hot, do I have to wrap my baby?
Well you don’t actually have to do anything but most babies love to be wrapped. They feel secure, they startle less and they sleep longer which makes everyone in the family happier. On a really hot day if you feel like running around in your swimmers, just strip your baby down to a nappy and use a light cotton or muslin wrap. Keep his/her head clear for some self-cooling and all settle down for a nap.

Air-conditioners and Fans
Air conditioners are quite safe with newborns so long as you keep them at a comfortable temperature. 24C – 26 degrees C is typically ideal depending on the sunlight you are getting through the windows. Make sure you clean your air conditioner filter regularly to reduce build up of dust and germs and keep the temperature gauge accurate. Keep your baby away from the direct flow of air conditioners or fans. Cool air directly on your baby can dry his/her skin and make them particularly cool. Direct the fan to a wall nearby or move the bassinet of cot out of direct flow.

How do I tell if my baby is too hot?
All of our discussions and advice are for the average textbook baby. Our babies’ are actually real little humans so have their own wonderful individuality and thus their own temperature regulation systems. To check how warm your baby actually is, slip your hand down his/her clothing to check how warm his/her chest is. It should be as warm as you are. Most babies run between 36.5C – 37.5 degrees C. Their little hands and feet are not an accurate gauge of actual core body temperature. A baby who is overheating will look flushed in the face, may breathe more rapidly or may sweat on its face, hands or feet.

Our best advice is
1. Keep it simple, if you are hot, your baby probably is too.
2. Check your baby’s chest or back to tell you how warm he or she really is.
3. Never put your baby to sleep with a hat on.
4. Avoid air conditioners and fans directly on baby – indirect flow ideally keeping the temperature control between 24C -26 degrees C
5. Most babies sleep better and love to be wrapped so strip your baby down and use light cotton or muslin wraps.
6. Check Tags/Togs for grobags (sleeping bags) to ensure season appropriate.
7. Feed your baby to demand. Breastfed babies will absolutely ask for a drink more often in hot weather, just as we do.
8. Listen to your baby – they are amazing little creatures!