While it is possible for babies to overheat in baby carriers there are ways in which to ensure that this does not happen. For example, go outdoors in the cooler parts of the day, dress baby and yourself in cool clothing, and keep baby hydrated. Check for signs of overheating by feeling the back of baby’s neck, check for red cheeks, rapid breathing and heartbeat, or irritability.
If you are too hot chances are your baby is too. Because your baby is being carried so close to you it is easier to detect if they are overheating than if they were in a pram or stroller.
The NSW notes that babies’ bodies cannot adjust to changes in temperature as well as adults’ bodies do. Babies and children sweat less, reducing their bodies’ ability to cool down and so are at risk of overheating. Babies can also dehydrate faster than adults. It is vital that parents ensure that they are prepared in order to keep their babies cool and hydrated while being carried in hot weather.
8 WAYS TO AVOID BABY OVERHEATING IN A CARRIER/SLING
It is not often that we hear of babies overheating in a carrier. But it is entirely possible, but avoidable if you know what signs to look out for and how to avoid it.
1. Know the optimal temperature for your baby and the outdoors
A temperature of 36.4 degrees Celsius in babies is considered normal whilst a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above could be due to overheating or a fever. Carrying your baby outdoors with a weather temperature of more than 32 degrees Celsius is considered dangerous. Try and stay indoors and be cautious if you want to carry your baby in a wrap or carrier for prolonged periods when the temperatures reach into the 30s.
2. Wear COOL CLOTHING
The rule of thumb is to dress a baby in one layer more than what you are wearing.
While your baby is in a carrier or sling in hot weather, the carrier or wrap acts as a layer. It is therefore advisable that baby be dressed in one layer of clothing only.
Try to wear thin, natural, breathable fabrics like cotton. There are many pros to skin-to-skin wearing but in the case of hot weather, it would be better to wear thin clothing that is higher on your chest to absorb possible sweat between you and your baby’s body.
3. Go outdoors during the cooler parts of the day and stay in shady areas
Try to plan outings during the cooler parts of the day like early morning, late afternoon, or evenings. If this cannot be avoided stay in shady areas.
You can also create your own shade by using a parasol or an umbrella or wear a wide-brimmed hat to shelter your baby from the sun.
4. Ensure your baby is getting enough fresh air
When out and about in the hot weather, take regular breaks.
Take your baby out of the carrier for some fresh air and stay in cool shady areas. When in the carrier or wrap ensure natural airflow especially to your baby’s face.
5. Choose the right baby carrier to avoid overheating
According to the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, choosing a hot-weather appropriate carrier is key. They state that single layer carriers (ring slings, lightweight wraps), breathable materials (linen, gauze, lightweight cotton, and moisture-wicking fabrics) and light-coloured carriers can keep baby cooler.
Buckle carriers or mei tais with vents, mesh panels, and curved hourglass-shaped sides will all offer increased airflow.
If it is age and developmentally appropriate, hip, and back carries can be slightly cooler than front carries.
6. Wear sun protection
Be aware of body parts that are exposed to the sun like the head, neck, and legs. You can buy UV protected clothing, but ensure the material is light and breathable. Choose baby-friendly sunscreen or sunscreen for sensitive skin and ensure an SPF of 30 or more.
If the top of your baby’s head is exposed to the sun, ensure your baby wears a hat.
7. Make your own spray mist and use a damp cooled facecloth to pat down your baby
Make your own spray mister using a spray bottle. Also carry a damp cooled facecloth with you to wipe your baby’s brow, neck, and feet. This can help to keep them cool.
8. KEEP YOUR BABY HYDRATED
Babies younger than six months will need to be fed more often in hot weather. Offer breastmilk frequently if you are breastfeeding and ensure you also keep up your intake of water. If you are not breastfeeding, ensure you have all your bottles prepped ahead of time so there is no delay in keeping up the fluids. Offer older babies extra water in hot weather.
SIGNS OF OVERHEATING IN BABIES
Here are the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do according to NSW Signs and symptoms
- Looking unwell and more irritable than usual
- Pale and clammy skin
- Sleepy and floppy
- Fewer wet nappies than usual
- Dark urine (normal colour is light straw colour)
- Refusing to drink (babies may feel uncomfortable to have skin contact when breastfeeding and hot. Try a light towel between you and your baby)
- Intense thirst (but as the baby gets weaker, he/she may drink less)
- Red, hot, and dry skin, mouth, and eyes. No tears when crying
- Soft spot on baby’s head (fontanelle) may be lower than usual
- Rising body temperature
- Rapid breathing
- Coma (not responding when touched or called)
What to do:
if you think your baby or young child is suffering from heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- Seek medical advice or call an emergency number immediately
- Move baby or child to a cool area and remove all extra clothes
- Bring their temperature down using any method available (sponging with cool water, cool bath, or covering with cool damp cloths)
- Try to give your baby or child drinks (unless unconscious and not able to swallow)
- A breastfed baby with heat exhaustion or heat stroke should be offered the breast as much as possible. Cool boiled water may be considered, particularly for babies over six months old or those already receiving other fluids
- A bottle-fed baby with heat exhaustion or heat stroke should be offered an extra bottle and cool boiled water
- If unconscious, lay the child on their side (recovery position) and check they can breathe properly. For babies less than a year old, a different recovery position is needed. Cradle the infant in your arms with their head tilted downwards to make sure they do not choke on their tongue or vomit. Support their head with your hand
- Perform CPR if your baby stops breathing