Babies and children need to be watched carefully during hot weather.

Babies and children sweat less, reducing their ability to cool down, and they generate more heat during exercise than adults.

They are at higher risk of overheating and developing a heat-related illness. Heat can also make existing illnesses worse.

Tips to help keep babies and children safe in the heat

  • understand that babies and children overheat and dehydrate quickly
  • breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby more often
  • offer older babies and children extra drinks in hot weather - the best drink is water
  • dress babies and children in cool clothing and protect them from the sun with hats and sunscreen
  • never leave children in the car
  • if your child is sick (fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, or even a mild cold), they need extra attention to ensure they remain well hydrated and don’t overheat. See your GP if your child is unwell.

Drink enough fluids

During hot weather, it’s important your child has enough fluids.

To ensure your child is having enough fluids:

  • offer drinks or breastfeeds frequently, as babies and young children are not able to tell you that they are thirsty
  • breastfeed or bottle-feed babies less than six months old more often (water or other drinks are not needed unless recommended by a GP)
  • offer small amounts of cooled boiled water to babies over six months old, after or between milk feeds
  • use a towel, sheet or nappy between yourself and your baby during feed times to avoid skin contact
  • check your baby is getting enough fluids, a good sign is if they’ve had six to eight pale wet nappies in the last 24-hours
  • drink plenty of water if you’re breastfeeding
  • offer young children water as their main drink throughout the day (fruit juice, fruit-based drinks and fizzy drinks are not recommended)
  • encourage older children to drink regularly, especially if they forget to drink because they are busy playing.

Keep cool

An important way to keep your child healthy in the heat is making sure they are cool.

Dress them in cool clothing

To help keep children cool, dress them in light, loose clothing.

You can also protect them from the sun with a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen.

Keep their environment cool

Keeping the environment your child is in cool helps protect them from the heat.

To keep them cool:

  • choose the coolest room in the house for sleeping. Keep the heat out by closing the curtains and making sure air can circulate around the bassinette or cot (don’t use liners or padding). Don’t leave babies asleep in a pram as they can become very hot.
  • cool your child with damp cloths and place wet towels or sheets around the bassinette or cot to cool the air immediately near them. Check regularly to make sure they are not getting too cold.
  • give your child a lukewarm bath or sponge them down with lukewarm water. Don’t use cold water or ice in the bath.
  • use fans to keep the air circulating. Don’t point fans directly at your child and make sure they can’t touch the fan.
  • make sure the room does not get too cold when using an air-conditioner, 24-26 degrees Celsius is low enough.
  • spend time in cool place like a library, shopping centre, cinema or other public building if your house does not have air-conditioning or can’t be cooled down.

If you visit public places, be sure to physically distance and practise good hygiene to protect yourself from COVID-19. Learn how to stay safe in the heat during COVID-19.

Stay inside

Try to keep your children inside, particularly during the hottest parts of the day (between 11am and 5pm). Plan your activities for early morning, late afternoon or evening.

If you must go out, protect your child’s skin from the sun by keeping them in the shade or covering with loose clothing and a broad-brimmed hat. You can also use small amounts of sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30+ on skin which cannot be covered.

If your child does a lot of outdoor activities and exercise, take regular breaks and provide plenty of fluids.

Don’t leave babies or children in cars

Never leave babies, children or pets alone in a car, not even for a moment. Babies and children can overheat very quickly in cars.

The temperature inside a parked car can be 30-40 degrees Celsius hotter than outside the car. Most of the temperature increase occurs within five minutes of closing the car and having the windows down 5 cm causes only a very slight decrease in temperature.

Never cover a baby capsule in the car with a blanket, towel or baby wrap as this will restrict air moving around the baby, making them hotter. Use sunshades on windows instead.

When planning a longer car journey, try to travel in the cooler hours of the day, dress your child lightly and provide plenty of cool water during the journey.

Avoid enclosed prams and strollers

An enclosed pram can get very hot. Try to ensure that the air circulates around your baby by removing the back panel or placing them in a more open stroller.

Only cover your baby’s pram or stroller with a light cloth that still allows the air to circulate.

If your child seems unwell during hot weather, please seek medical advice immediately.

Keep food safe

The Food Authority has information on how to maintain food safety for children in hot weather.

Current as at: Thursday 7 April 2022
Contact page owner: Environmental Health