8 ways to keep babies cool during the heatwave

18 July 2022

The extreme heat is hard for anyone to deal with, but for babies and very young children who just can’t understand why they feel so hot and uncomfortable, it can be particularly tough – and a nightmare for parents and carers to deal with.

While there’s nothing we can do about the weather, there are ways to make babies and children more comfortable.

“It can be really stressful keeping a baby cool in the heat, especially as they’re often more cranky,” says parenting expert, parent coach and YouTuber Sophie Pickles, speaking on behalf of the baby brand Munchkin (munchkin.co.uk). “Keep your cool though, and remember to dress babies minimally – just a nappy will do in the extreme heat – keep them out of the sun at all times, and feed often.”

Some babies won’t need to wear much more than a nappy in this weather (Alamy/PA)

These are Pickles’ top tips for keeping babies and young children as cool as possible…

1. Use an icy fan

If your baby’s bedroom is too hot for them to sleep comfortably, Pickles suggests putting a bowl of ice water in front of a fan to cool the air.

“Position the fan so it oscillates, and avoid pointing it directly at your baby, especially if they’re under six months,” she adds.

2. Be careful with how you shade babies

“Keep babies in the shade at all times if you can,” advises Pickles, who suggests using a pram parasol when out and about.

“Don’t be tempted to use a muslin or sun shade to cover the pram,” she warns. “This creates a dangerously hot environment, even with the thinnest piece of material.”

3. Take bath time outside

If you take your baby bath into the garden and bathe there, not only will it mean less cranky post-bath babies with no nasty transitions from warm water to cold air, but they’ll also have more fun, suggests Pickles.

“The outdoors provides a wonderful learning environment for babies and young children, and the addition of water play makes the sensory experience even more enjoyable,” she says.

4. Keep layers thin or non-existent 

A nappy alone is fine for babies in hot weather (although only indoors, or in the shade outside), and Pickles says at night it’s OK to skip the sleepsuit and use a short-sleeved vest, or even just a nappy.

“Thin sleeping bags (0.5 tog) are good, because you can always put a blanket over the top when you go to bed if necessary,” she says.

5. No sunscreen for very young babies

Try using factor 50+ on older babies (Alamy/PA)

“Try not to use suncream on babies under six months, as babies’ skin is too sensitive, or search for a specific newborn-safe sun cream,” says Pickles.

“With slightly older babies, remember to use factor 50+, and stay out of the sun between the hours of 11am and 3pm.”

6. Extra water isn’t always necessary

Babies under 12 months may not need extra water in addition to their milk – breast milk and formula should keep them hydrated.

“So don’t stress if they keep spitting water out,” says Pickles. “Breastfed babies under six months don’t need extra water, although you may like to give small amounts of cooled boiled water to exclusively formula fed babies.

“You can offer water at mealtimes and in the hot weather to babies over six months, but remember that breast milk and formula will provide all the water they usually need.”

She does warn, however, that babies might need more milk than usual to stay hydrated. “Feed on demand, and remember babies will want extra milk in the heat,” she says.

7. Give older babies and toddlers water-rich foods

Water-rich food could help keep your baby hydrated (Alamy/PA)

For babies over six months, lots of water-rich foods like watermelon and cucumber sticks will help keep them happy and hydrated, says Pickles.

8. Fit in an extra nap

Warm weather often means tired and cranky babies, so try get them to have an extra nap, suggests Pickles.

“Watch closely for those early sleep cues and fit in an extra nap, or let them sleep longer if you think it’s needed – follow their lead.”

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