Summer is here and almost everyone we know hates it. The wind is warm, the skin is sweating and everything is simply unbearable. Of course, as adults, we can crib as much as we like but what about teeny, tiny babies?
Your newborns need you to be extra attentive in the coming months. They may not be able to say it out loud but summer is never kind to babies. Here are some things you should know:
1. Babies need more milk
You must have heard and read this everywhere that you must drink more water in summers to keep yourself well hydrated. The same goes for babies. Their bodies too lose water quickly in the warm season and therefore need to be replenished enough and often.
However, babies under 6-months-old cannot be given water directly to drink so the mother needs to breastfeed the baby more than before. Dr Ruchika Nagrath, a Lamaze India child birth educator explains that a baby needs 2 ounces of milk per pound of their body weight normally. In summers, the requirement increases by 50%. “For example, if a 10 pound baby consumes 20 ounces of milk in a day, she should now be fed 30 ounces in summer,” she says.
More breastfeeding also means that the mother also needs to be able to produce more milk. “The mother should drink enough water and keep herself hydrated to meet the demand,” Dr Nagrath adds. However, unlike what is commonly suggested, there is no exact ‘glass count’ you need to meet. “You should just drink enough to quench your thirst. There is no thumb rule to how much you should drink. If you stay indoors all day in an air-conditioned environment, your body will lose water much slower. So, you don’t need to keep chugging water just to meet a count,” she says.
2. Avoid stepping out with the baby between 10am to 2pm
Dr Nagrath suggests that because the sun’s rays are strongest between 10am to 2pm, it is best to avoid stepping out with your baby at these times. If push comes to shove and there is no way to avoid it, make sure you take necessary precautions. “Baby skin is really sensitive to sun’s rays. Make sure that if you step out during high noon, the baby is well covered, maybe dress her in a light-coloured full sleeves shirt and pants, take an umbrella or make her wear a cap to protect her face. You can even buy the baby friendly sunscreens that are now available in the market but make sure they are below SPF 15 range,” she says.
3. Don’t pile clothes on the baby
Indians have a thing for piling clothes on babies no matter the season. Dr Akshay Kapoor, consultant (paediatrics) at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, says that parents must be strongly discouraged from doing so. “People clothe their babies in vests, then shirts, then sweaters and even warm caps in summers. They shouldn’t,” he says.
Dr Nagrath also says that the babies should only be dressed in clothes made from natural fibre like cotton. “I always tell my patients that you should dress the baby the way you would dress yourself. You wouldn’t want to walk around wearing sweaters in May right?,” she says.
4. Buy the right stroller and crib
Make sure the places where your baby sleeps or spends any amount of time resting, is comfortable and cool. Satin sheets and woollen bedding can heat up really quickly, without giving proper ventilation. When you buy a stroller, choose one with a lightweight fabric, preferably nylon. Fancy strollers and cribs, sold in Europe or America are not ideal for the Indian climate.
When exposed to warm temperatures, the heat rises instantly in the stroller, making it difficult for the baby to even breathe. Do not leave your baby in a hot car either, no matter how small the duration. Hot cars can cause deaths in mere minutes.
5. Look for the right signs
Because babies do not have fully developed sweat glands, there is no clear sign for you to notice when your baby is feeling uncomfortably warm. However, Dr Kapoor suggests that your baby may be feeling way too hot if she is exhibiting any of these signs:
- If she seems unwell or isn’t her usual playful self.
- If she is lethargic or irritable
- If her skin looks or feels drier than usual (doctors check dry skin by pinching it a bit and checking the time it take to go back to normal. More time, more dryness).
- If she refuses to take milk. When a baby is dehydrated over long durations, they start refusing to drink. It is a sign of advanced dehydration.
- If the nappy is coming clean. You should immediately take her to the doctor if she has altogether stopped urinating.
Keep these in mind for a healthy, happy summer for your baby.
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