Babies and young children are at increased risk of heat-related illness. This is because they are less able to control their own body temperature and make choices to stop themselves overheating.

Babies and young children require particular care to make sure their health is protected during hot weather. Most important is that babies and young children stay cool and drink regularly.​

Tips to help keep babies and young children safe in the heat

  • Understand that babies and young children can overheat and dehydrate quickly.
  • Check on babies and young children regularly during hot weather.
  • Keep babies and young children out of the heat and reduce their activity levels.
  • For babies under six months, they may need or demand extra feeds during hot weather.
    • For breastfed babies, breast milk provides for their needs and extra water is not necessary. Breastfeeding mothers should also make sure they drink plenty of fluids. Find out more about breastfeeding in hot weather​​.
    • ​For bottle fed babies, the number of feeds may need to be increased.
  • Offer extra drinks in hot weather - the best drink for older babies and children is water. You can find more hydration tips on healthdirect​​.​
  • Dress babies and children in light, loose clothing and protect them from the sun with hats and sunscreen.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, cool babies and children with a damp cloth, face washer or a lukewarm bath, never cold water.
  • Use fans to circulate air but make sure it is out of their reach, and do not point a fan towards your baby or young child.
  • Follow safe sleeping practices​​ – use a firm mattress without any extra padding or bedding so air can circulate around your baby. You can find out more about safe sleep for your baby.
  • Prams can become hot:
    • Do not leave your baby to sleep in a pram in hot weather as airflow is restricted.
    •  If you’re using a pram, cover it with the pram’s canopy or shade cloth, but ensure that air can get through to your child. Never cover a pram with a wrap or blanket because these can restrict airflow and increase the pram’s temperature to dangerous levels.
    • Remove the back panel from a pram to help with airflow.
  • Never leave babies or children alone in the car, no matter what the weather. Even in mild weather, cars quickly become too hot for babies or young children.
  • Never cover a baby capsule in a car with a rug or towel to shade from the sun as this restricts air movement.
  • Use sunshades on car windows.​

Signs that your baby or young child may be affected by hot weather

It is not always easy to tell if your baby or young child is affected by hot weather.

During hot weather it’s important to regularly check for the following signs which can indicate that a baby or young child’s health is being affected.​​​

Symptoms of mild dehydration or heat-related illness may include:

  • has fewer wet nappies, and urine is darker in colour
  • dry skin and mouth
  • nausea or headaches for older children.

Symptoms of severe dehydration or heat-related illness may include:

  • looks unwell
  • more irritable than usual
  • body is limp or floppy
  • skin is pale or cold
  • drowsy or confused
  • refuses to drink or extremely thirsty
  • ​sunken eyes and may not have tears when crying.

If your baby or young child has symptoms of severe dehydration or heat-related illness, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

If your baby has symptoms of mild dehydration and you are worried, see your doctor or phone healthdirect​​​ on 1800 022 222 for health information and advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ​

Learn about the signs, symptoms and first aid for heat-related health problems  including heat exhaustion, heat stress and heat rash.

Current as at: Friday 24 November 2023
Contact page owner: Environmental Health