In the summer heat (especially in the humid weather in Kurdistan), it can be quite tricky trying to keep our children comfortable, cool and safe.
Dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunburn can all be avoided so our babies and children are healthy and enjoy the warm weather.
1. Ensure they drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Offer water and fun cool treats such as homemade smoothies, fruit and salads to older children. We like to put a clean wooden lolly stick in yogurts and freeze them so it becomes a refreshing frozen yogurt lolly!
For breastfed babies, you may notice they want to breastfeed more than usual during the day and even during night time. This is normal and they don’t need water as well. Remember, water is not recommended for babies under the age of 6 months, but we Kurds do give a few spoonfuls here and there.
2. For those older than 6 months old, cool boiled water can help to avoid dehydration and to keep their fluid levels up. Look out for a decrease in wet nappies as a sign of dehydration!
1. Younger babies should not be in direct sunlight. Their eyes, skin and hair are not developed enough to handle the sun’s rays. Those older than 6 months old should also be kept out of the sun when possible, especially when the sun is at it’s strongest, between 11am and 3pm.
2. Remember to use a parasol or sunshade on your baby’s pushchair to keep direct sunlight out.
3. Apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of a minimum of 15 on your child. Make sure that the product also protects against UVA and UVB rays (see link for the one I use – Nivea Sun Spray. Ensure you apply this on their skin regularly, especially if they have had contact with water.
4. Hats with a wide brim or neck flap will help to keep your child’s head and neck cool and protected.
Overdressing babies can cause rashes and overheating. This can lead to SIDS (Sudden infant syndrome), a fatal sleeping disorder. When babies are hot, they fall into a deep sleep and feel as if they are back in the womb. This makes it difficult for them to wake up and can increase the risk of SIDS.
The National Sleep Foundation say: “SIDS is the leading cause of death in children between one month and one year of age, and in most cases the infant was believed to be healthy immediately before the death.” (For more information visit the Sleep Foundation website)
One factor which contributes to the increased risk of SIDS is overheating due to clothing, blankets or room temperature.
Commonly, some parents cover their child’s pushchair with a light blanket or muslin cloth in summer, to keep out the sun’s heat while their baby sleeps. However, this is a very dangerous practice and can be fatal as there is a lack of air circulation and dangerous overheating can happen.
There are several things we can do to keep our children safe and cool in the summer heat.
1. Splashing around in a paddling pool or participating in water activities is a good way to cool down. Make sure to keep children supervised at all times.
2. Although it may seem better to open windows, sometimes in the summer heat, keeping curtains and blinds closed keeps your child’s bedroom cooler during the day.
3. Dress your child in cotton when possible and keep nightwear to a minimum. Right now, Arianne sleeps with a nappy and a cotton baby vest and Ashti wears a cotton nightie or dishdasha as I love to call it (makes me feel like I am back in Kurdistan).
4. A cool bath before bedtime is a great idea, it helps to keep them cool and always prepares my daughters for a good night’s sleep.
5. Once they are in bed during the evenings it can be quite humid. I make sure the girls are securely in bed, I open their bedroom doors (to keep air circulating) and ensure safety gates are up. A fan is also a good idea.
6. Invest in a nursery thermometer to help monitor your baby’s room. The best room temperature for a comfortable night’s sleep for your baby is between 16°C and 20°C.
Tip: While preparing your baby for bedtime you may like to have a cold water bottle on their bed-sheet, remove this as they lie down to sleep, their mattress will feel cool and refreshing against their body – rather than humid and uncomfortable.
Tip: Beware of hot surfaces in parks, I always double-check by touching any slide before my daughters use it. Sometimes the metal overheats and can burn a child’s body!
Consider all these ideas and tips and I hope you all have a happy, healthy and safe summer – beautiful mamas and babies! Send us your fun summertime photos and any personal tips and tricks.