How do I keep my baby cool during the summer?

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By: nimble photographyCC BY 2.0
My daughter is seven months old, and we are quickly approaching summer in Texas. Temperatures here can get HOT — average temperature of 100° F in August, anyone?

I'd really like tips for keeping cool in the car, in the stroller, and running in and out of places while on errands. I'm also interested in finding out everyone's favorite brand of baby sunblock and/or umbrella hats.

Basically: how do you keep your kiddos cool during hot summers? — Jenny

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  1. THANK YOU for posting this! I'm due in July and I have been worried about this!

    6 agree
  2. Sunblock: Badger Baby Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 34. It is whitening but all super safe baby sunscreen is.

    Here's a list of all of the best suncreen options: http://safemama.com/cheatsheets/sunscreen/

    When swimming, we used long sleeve and pants rashguard rompers (like this: http://www.coolibar.com/product/Boys/Infant-6M-24M/Infant-Beach-Romper/pc/2221/c/0/sc/2270/155903.uts) that were awesome. We didn't have to apply as much sunscreen and baby doesn't get hot as long as you're in the water.

    As for keeping cool the rest of the time, I put a cotton cloth diaper flat under my babies in their carseats to provide an extra layer between their backs and the car seat. This seem to help them sweat less. Otherwise we just stayed in the shade as much as possible. We had big umbrellas for the yard and a small one for outings if we were going to be in the sun for any amount of time.

    5 agree
    • Also, if your baby is still in the bucket seat, pull the bucket out and take it with you in the house or store or where ever so it doesn't just sit and bake in the car.

      3 agree
  3. I'm in Texas as well (it's supposed to be 90 today, which is just stupid), and I'm worried about this summer now that my son is a year old and isn't content to just roll around on the floor all day like he was last summer as an infant. My plan is to make sure I start the car a few minutes before leaving to get the AC running, bring ice packs to put around him if we're going for a long walk either in the stroller or the carrier, but really probably just avoid long walks, spend a lot of time at the neighborhood pool and stay in the shade. I don't know how to handle getting back in the car after running an errand other than trying to park in the shade and letting the car run for a minute or two before getting in. Even still though, I know it'll be 110F even after a quick trip to the grocery store.
    My pediatrician recommended California Baby Sunblock, which is pretty natural/not full of chemicals from what I've read. My son refuses to wear a hat at this age, so we'll just be staying out of the sun as much as possible.

  4. I'm in Texas, too, and as a Northeasterner by birth find the summers here just mind-boggling. (As to why some Texans insist on driving massive, earth-warming vehicles and running their AC 24/7, 365 days a year, despite the droughts and high temps, I have no idea…) Other than that, though, we really love our Austin digs! I wrote a blog post last summer about how we keep cool, active toddler-style, in the summer: http://www.alt-mama.com/1/post/2012/08/hot-days-i-aint-afraid-surviving-and-thriving-through-the-tejas-summer.html. We'll be returning to those strategies again this year. Definitely a little nervous for the upcoming hot season, however, since I'm now pregnant with baby #2 and am going to be huge, working a lot, and roasting. Thinking of joining the YMCA as a family membership gets all-access to indoor playground, pool, and kid/mama classes. Some of our friends are already members so it could be a good option for meeting up and having fun in a cool space out of the relentless summer sun.

  5. Well, it doesn't get as hot for as long here in Southern Ontario but our July's and August's can be scorchers and we don't have air conditioning at our house. My tips are:
    * shade, shade and more shade
    *running around in just a diaper in the house
    *sleeping in a diaper and small pair of shorts (he'd pull his diaper off in the middle of the night if we didn't put shorts on him)
    *insulated cups for going on trips
    *umbrella stroller breathed a lot better than big stroller
    *when using my ergo pack carrier we put a soft ice pack in the storage pocket. Nice and cool on my son's back.
    *time out for quick dips in the baby pool in the shade (he loved this his 1st summer being 3 months and last summer as well)

    I liked using the Hawaiian Tropic Baby Sunscreen. It's nice and thick and smells good.

    5 agree
  6. I second using Badger. Since we're super pastey around here I slather up all the time. But most sunscreens are chock full of chemicals. I like Badger but you can always look up the toxicity of sunscreens on SkinDeep.

    Last year we really struggled to keep the baby cool in her carseat. Ended up putting ice packs between the plastic part and the fabric shell. Also giving her something cool!frozen to chew on helped keep her core temp down. Good luck!

  7. Nurse/offer fluids often. But don't stress too much – lots of babies have been raised in hot climates! On the other end, I have to constantly remind my Texan mother that lots of babies have been raised in Canadian winters. We're a pretty fit species.

    13 agree
  8. Hey we are in coastal central FL and its the humidity here that is a killer, when you open the front door its like you get hit in the face by a hot sticky towel.

    I got a bunch of cheap pashmina shawls or scrap fabric in light colors and hang it from the oh shit bar in the back seat of the car. We use that as a sun shade to keep the sun off the baby when driving and put it over the metal buckles when parked to keep a layer between direct blinding FL sun and metal that goes near little guys tender bits. We tried the stickem up baby shades but the plastic suction cups couldn't hold up to the heat.

    We also got this: http://www.amazon.com/Sunshine-Kids-Shade-Canopy-Strollers/dp/B002WB237I

    Its a bit awkward but it really works to keep the sun off your kid. Its great if you are going to be out for a while.

    We live in an apt, but have a balcony so when we needed to get out of the same small space but he was too small for the big pool filled with big kids we'd use this: http://www.amazon.com/Kids-Sturdy-Inflatable-Swimming-K0838-6/dp/B00CDJB1KE/ref=sr_1_12?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1366133868&sr=1-12&keywords=inflatable+kid+pool

    little tiny blow up pool. only took like a small rubbermaid tub of water to fill up and easy to empty. It was good that he could splash around in it, and I ended up wearing some of the water too and managed to stay somewhat cool.

    We use California Baby sunblock mostly. Or whatever else I can find. The target by us has a really surprisingly good selection of kiddie safe sunscreen.

    1 agrees
  9. http://www.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/

    Environmental Working Group is THE authority on sunscreen safety (as well as cosmetics and other beauty products). This is last year's report, but next year's should be out soon. It does rate Badger highly, among some others. Check it out.

    4 agree
  10. I put my 7mo in this when at the pool: http://www.iplaybabywear.com/index.php/iplay/swim-sun/sun-protection-clothing/one-piece-stripe-sunsuit-blue.html
    spf clothing really cuts down on the amount of sunscreen I have to put on him.

    We recently took him to Vietnam where it was ungodly hot. I sat next to him in the car with a little handheld fan and a cup of ice, and just rubbed ice cubes on him then fanned his wet skin. He thought it was hilarious.

    Keep an eye on the seat belt & car seat buckles – they get super hot. My son likes to grab at them as I buckle him in, and it was pretty sad when he got ahold of one that had been in the car all day 🙁

    2 agree
  11. I don't know if your little one is still in a bucket carseat, but those get warm very quickly. When possible, take her out of it instead of just placing it in the grocery carriage, or whatever. But baby wearing will also make the both of you incredibly warm, so go with whatever's the most pleasant option.

    Don't forget, babies can get away with much more nakedness than grown-ups. Onsies all the time, not much else.

    You can keep the bathtub full of warm-ish water. If you run it in the morning, it will be fairly tepid by midday. If you don't use soap, you can just plunk her in a few minutes at a time several times per day to cool off. The tile floor of the bathroom might be nice for you too 🙂

    I wouldn't worry about overheating too much in just those short jaunts away from home. My guess is that every store that you're going into is air conditioned, and, unless you're walking miles to get there, you won't be outside for too long en route.

    As for sunblock, now that she's past the 6th month mark, you can use whatever sunscreen. I swear by blue lizard. My daughter and I have the world's most sensitive skin, and it is amazing. It's made in Australia where they take skin protection very seriously. You can order it from drugstore.com. The baby stuff is a pain to spread on (it's made with zinc) but again, so amazing. The face stuff is much easier to spread, but a little more expensive.

    3 agree
  12. I am also a Texan by way of Washington :). Either mass rain or mass sun! Where's the middle ground???

    It sounds silly, but those sun shades for your dashboard/windshield (silver fold-out thingys) really do help. I use put mine up every time I get out of the car, even for a short errand. It is supposed to make up to 40 degrees difference! Also when I was a kid, my parents had little sun shades in the car to pull down over the windows (that you could still see out while driving). Like tinting your windows but cheaper and removable.

    2 agree
  13. I'm from Seattle, so I'm really only used to about 2 weeks worth of summer weather, but letting kids play with ice cubes in the bath/backyard swimming pool is great for cooling down.

    Babies can be cooled with damp or frozen washcloths/cloth diapers/flannel wipes… if they're teething, a slightly frozen washcloth is great on their gums too. There are also a LOT of teething toys that are made to be put in the freezer now… many of them still have play value for kids pre & post teething age.

    Usually, the fastest way to bring up or down a temperature is to use water. That's why I especially favor using damp or frozen cloths for helping kids stay cool. For shopping trips, freeze some washcloths in advance & stick them in a cooler with ice packs in the back of your car. Then you can cool down the car seat without having to let the car run for so long.

  14. Oh, and a trick my mom used to always do – to cool down, run cool water over the insides of your forearms/wrists. Your blood is closest to the surface there, so it cools much faster.

    3 agree
  15. Stay inside air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day (think nap/siesta time for parents and baby)

    Utilize the sun-shade in the windows of cars. Try to park in the shade.

    As kids we used to sleep in our underwear with damp washcloths on our heads or with wet hair and a fan blowing on us (no air conditioning). When I lived in India (no AC) I slept with wet socks and a wet sheet pulled up on me.

    Swim during the cooler/shadier times of day (before 11 and after 4), where it's still warm but the sun's rays aren't as hot. Wear baby sunscreen and a hat. Even a beach umbrella in the pool can be fun and relaxing.

    Drink A LOT of fluids and make sure baby does, too. Try yummy summe treats like watermelon and fresh fruit popsicles if kiddo doesn't seem interested in water or nursing.

    Go to the park in early morning or after dinner to get the energy out without being too warm!

    4 agree
  16. Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but now that my daughter's in a convertible carseat, we cover the whole seat with a light-colored blanket when the car is parked–it keeps the seatbelts from getting too hot, and also seems to help the black seat from absorbing too much heat. I also like to put ice packs in the car seat if we're on a day trip in the summer, and second using wet washcloths and keeping babies well-hydrated–they can get dehydrated so quickly!

    3 agree
  17. Here in Phoenix the onset of the heat means pulling out the books, handwork, and cozy inside crafts to ward off our desert version of cabin fever.

    Remember all those winter months we got to be outside when everyone else was stuck inside watching the snow drifts pile up? Yeah- now it's our turn. Don't push yourself to be outside too much. The reality might be you have a few day/weeks stuck inside.

    I second the light colored blanket/ towel over the car seat. Naked is awesome- but in terms of keeping cool – loose clothes with good coverage rule. Think Thobe!

    5 agree
  18. More for older kids, but ice play is great. Give kids blocks of ice (use disposable pie tins or tupperware). You can freeze toys in them, use dye to color them. Give kids plastic spoons and squirt bottles to try to 'excavate' the toys. We even froze very watery mud and hid dinosaurs in the pan- my niece loved finding them.

    For little ones- staying in as much as possible. Lots of cool baths or a kiddie pool (great for caregivers and parents too!) drink lots of extra water. Find the places near you that have the best a/c and take advantage of them. One summer this means the kids that I nannied for went with me to the grocery store. Every day. Even if it was only to buy one thing, we still took at least an hour.

    3 agree
  19. I grew up in Houston and am raising my 3 babies in Austin. This is what I've found works for me.
    1. get your car windows tinted. not the cheap stuff. seriously.
    2. use a reflective sun shade on the windshield and leave your windows cracked. find shady parking if at all possible.
    3. do fun stuff outside early in the a.m. and late in the p.m. (in my book this includes pool/water play – its too hot and the sun too strong for little babies, older kids can take a little more heat, but still better to be safe than sorry when its 100+ outside); even at these hours, stay in the shade when you can.
    4. in the afternoon, do stuff inside – children's museums, libraries, lunch and nap at home, whatever…
    5. nurse/offer fluids often; I found with my little babies in the summer, they would nurse often but briefly, getting the watery milk for fluids, and leaving the hindmilk for when they were actually hungry. For the toddler and preschooler, I fill up a water bottle/sippy up halfway or so with water, stick it in the freezer overnight, and then fill it up the rest of the way with water before we leave the house. ice water for hours.
    6. lots of popsicles
    7. i like the aveeno baby sunscreen, but try to keep the babies out of the sun as much as possible
    Good luck, and have a fun summer! I personally love the heat, but I know I'm a weirdo.

    4 agree
    • I love the heat too. I can always cool down, but I can never warm up. I would rather it be 105 than 45 degrees, easy. Yay for us! We seem to be a rare breed.

  20. Great tips, thanks everyone! My little one will be turning one near the end of August and while I'm over here on the Wet Coast these will definitely come in handy.

  21. What about newborns? I'm due in june and I'm worried about heat, here in Mexico an AC system is not common since usually we don't have high temperatures but in the last few years summer has been hell. Anyone has any suggestion to keep my son cool and happy?

    • I have a summer baby, who was born during a rare Seattle heat wave, in a land where nothing is air conditioned. Nurse often. Newborns can't have water, so that means the little one is going to rely on you for all their hydrating needs. Don't worry about feeding schedules or any of that kind of nonsense, your baby will be thirsty. It helped me when I was home to put her diaper only in a carrier like the Moby wrap and not wear a shirt underneath. That way I didn't over heat, and the skin to skin helps baby regulate temperature too.

  22. I would keep a damp washcloth, or several, in my Medela cooler (it has an ice insert) with the breastmilk. The washcloths would be damp. (They will dry very quickly, and a dry washcloth is not helpful.) I would take one out, as needed, and put it on top of his head to keep him cool. As long as the car was moving, and he was getting wind, he was okay. (I am a Floridian and we have no AC in the car.)

    Also, making sure baby is well-hydrated with cool liquid is VERY important. (Helps with core temp.) In the hottest part of summer, I did not want him exposed to high levels of heat for more than 30 minutes, in the shade. I would not have him out of the shade ever, if possible.

    You need to keep a close eye on baby's sweating. If your baby is not sweating in hot temperatures, then you need to get him to a hospital ASAP.

    1 agrees
  23. Hi, we are in California but I saw so etching on pinterest today that will help you out! http://www.whittiervillagecinemas.com/summer-kiddie-matinee-schedule.html <—- this link shows a carseat cooler! You can totally DIY! Also on pinterest type in carseat cooler it has a pattern and other ideas you can just set it in and put of your carseat all day! If its a really long day maybe taking a cooler with extra frozen packs would Orkney well too 😀 hope ths is helpful!!!!

  24. Watch for signs of overheating. I couldn't understand why my baby, who normally loved walks was so fussy in his stroller. Then he threw up. Not that notable in and of itself as he spit up a lot. But when I took his clothes off, he immediately got happier. And when I put him in new ones he promptly started fussing again. And with in a few minutes he passed out. As in actually passed out, not fell asleep. We rushed him home to the AC and let him sleep it off, but it was scary.

    My suggestions are shade, minimal clothing, and moisture. On a hot day, don't be afraid to keep your baby pretty damp. But this strategy must be employed with shade because being wet can also make you more prone to burning. And sometimes, no matter what precautions you've taken, you just have to take ten minutes in an air conditioned building regardless of your schedule, just so the kid has time to cool down.

    1 agrees
  25. Thanks so much everyone!
    You had so many great suggestions and tips! I have got my amazon wishlist loaded with sunblock, Jumbo car shade covers, sunshade canopy covers, as well as creative clothing ideas! Lots of good suggestions, and we will be frequenting indoor actives often.
    I love the heat, but also love to keep it cool.

    — Jenny

  26. Didn't see it here but if you're breastfeeding you can put breast milk in ice cube trays and put them in baby mash holders. My baby loves it and it's like an healthy popsicle.

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