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Tips to keep your baby safe in the heat this summer

HeatBabyWorried about keeping your baby safe in the heat this summer? Here are some must-read tips from Dr. Esther Liu, chairman of pediatrics at Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and Dr. David Monroe, director of the Children’s Care Center at Howard County General Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Both doctors remind new parents that babies have an immature ability to regulate their temperature. Babies don’t always sweat and can’t voice how they are feeling, so extra caution in hot weather is necessary.

Don’t overdress the baby: If you are hot, the baby is hot, according to Monroe. Some parents feel the need to overdress babies to avoid sun exposure. Be cautious of the sun, but also be cautions about the heat, Liu says. Keep in mind that hats trap heat and don’t feel the need to swaddle the baby on a hot day.

Outside safety: Days when the temperature is above 90 degrees are not safe for babies, according to Monroe. If you must go out, keep them in the shade as much as possible and take breaks in air conditioning. Remember that car seats trap heat around the baby, as does cradling a baby, Liu says. Avoid going outside at the hottest time of the day, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Keep the baby hydrated: Don’t give water to a baby younger than 6 months. Formula and breast milk contain plenty of fluids to keep a baby hydrated, Liu says. When a baby is older than 6 months, water and juice are ok, Monroe adds.

Warning signs: Babies may not show signs that they are overheated such as sweating, Monroe says. Look for flushed cheeks, irritability, rapid breathing, vomiting and lethargy. “If a baby is sound asleep at a softball game, it may not mean he likes the heat. It may mean he’s super overheated,” Monroe says.

Cooling down: Cool off an overheated baby by getting out of the heat, undressing, wiping down with a wet washcloth, or using spray mist and turning on fan and a tepid bath. Extreme temperature changes can make things worse so avoid a cold bath and ice, Liu says.

Car safety: The biggest heat threat for a baby is the car, Monroe warns. “Never leave a baby alone in a car, especially in the summer. In Maryland, after just 10 minutes the car can reach a minimum of 120 degrees with the windows closed,” he says.

If you have made a trip to the store, always take the baby out first when you arrive home. “The milk might spoil, but you don’t want to hurt the baby,” Monroe says.

Make sure the car is sufficiently cooled before putting a baby inside. Open the windows and keep them open while the air conditioning cools the car, the doctors agree. Also get window shades to help block the sun.

Liu also suggest parents put their purse or briefcase in the back seat so they never forget they have the baby with them.

For more details check out the Look Before You Lock website.


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