Summertime seems like the ideal time to have a baby. For mom-to-be, the strain of pregnancy is over before the hot weather really sets in. Plus, it also means that caring for the newborn will be a lot easier… Or so it may seem.
Warmer weather means parents don’t have to worry about frigid temperatures, colds, the flu, and so many other complications that come along with the winter. However, there are some serious concerns that can arise in the summer that can present challenges – and definite dangers – to newborns.
Soaring temperatures, blistering sun, and dehydration are just some of the things that can impact babies who are born in the summer. As such, moms and dads really need to exercise special care when caring for their newborns during this time of the year. While summer may be a laid-back season, it certainly doesn’t mean that parents should be relaxed about caring for their little ones.
Newborns rely on their moms and dads for their survival. One mistake can lead to a lifetime of regret. All it takes is some knowledge and precautions to ensure that your little one stays as safe as possible during the summer season.
If you’re expecting a summer baby, here’s a look at 15 mistakes you’re going to want to avoid at all costs.
15 Using The Wrong Sunscreen
Just like a person of any other age, a newborn’s skin is sensitive to the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun; in fact, it’s more sensitive than an older child’s or an adult’s. That’s because it has very little melanin, or the pigment that colors skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. To protect that fresh skin, many new parents might assume that slathering their newborn’s up with sunscreen is the best way to prevent sunburn. However, that’s not the case.
While sunscreen might be an effective way to shield an older child’s skin from the sun, it can be harmful to newborns. The reason? – The sensitivity of their skin. Many lotions that are meant to block out the rays of the sun contain harsh chemicals that can easily aggravate a newborn’s sensitive skin. For example, it can cause a rash or increase the risk of eczema. Even an all-natural formula can be dangerous for the delicate skin of a newborn.
That’s why Mayo Clinic suggests that parents only use sunscreen on babies who are 6 months of age or older. Instead of using lotions, sprays, or any other type of sunscreen, parents should practice other protective measures to ensure their newborns aren’t subject to sunburn in the summer.
14 Covering The Stroller With A Blanket
Since a newborn’s skin is so sensitive to the sun and the use of sunscreen isn’t recommended until the age of 6 months, many moms and dads assume that covering the stroller or infant car seat with a blanket is the ideal way to keep the damaging rays of the sun off their little one’s body. Big mistake!
Though their intentions might be good, parents are actually creating a very dangerous environment when they cover the infant car seat or stroller with a blanket. Why? – Because doing so can create a greenhouse type of effect. In other words, air can’t flow directly through the fabric, which can cause heat to build up in the enclosed space. When that space heats up, so does the baby.
Even fabrics that seem lightweight, such as muslin, shouldn’t be used to cover an infant car seat or a stroller. Though they might seem breathable, they can stop air circulation, which can increase the baby’s temperature, which can lead to overheating, and overheating (or hyperthermia) can do serious damage to a newborn.
To avoid the risk of harming your baby, keep the stroller or infant car seat out of the sun. Never cover it with any type of material.
13 Babies Do Get Insect Bites
As adults, we all know the agony that comes along with an insect bite… The nagging, gnawing itching; the swelling; the redness; the sheer and utter discomfort…
Now, imagine that a newborn is suffering from the same symptoms? They’re completely helpless and have no idea what is making them so uncomfortable, and as a parent, you can’t figure out what is making your little one so inconsolable.
Needless to say, insect bites on a newborn are no fun for anyone.
For babies that are born in summer months, they’re a reality that can create sheer misery. In some cases, they can even come with serious consequences. Insect bites can lead to cellulitis, a type of bacterial infection in the skin and the tissue that lies just underneath it. If left untreated, cellulitis can lead spread into the blood and other parts of the body, which, if left untreated, can become life-threatening, reports Mayo Clinic.
Cellulitis is just one of the health concerns that can arise as a result of an insect bite. There are several other conditions that can result, depending on the species that bit and what it is carrying. For example, mosquitoes can transmit malaria and yellow fever and ticks can transmit Lyme disease.
Though using insect repellant is not recommended on newborn babies, it’s important that parents keep their little ones well protected and take proper precautions to prevent the possibility of a bite. Should they discover one on their newborn, medical treatment is advised.
12 Setting The AC Too Low
When the weather forecast calls for obscenely hot temperatures, the normal reaction of most adults who are fortunate enough to have access to air conditioning is to pump it on full-blast.
While doing so might make things more comfortable for parents, it could be very dangerous for newborns.
As previously mentioned, newborns aren’t born with the ability to regulate their body temperature. They actually lose body heat at a much quicker rate than older children and adults. Therefore, while letting the AC run at what seems like a comfortable temperature to mom and dad can be quite dangerous for a newborn. Why? – Because, since they can’t efficiently regulate their body temperature and they lose body heat more quickly, they are at an increased risk of becoming hypothermic if they are exposed to low temperatures.
Excessive exposure to low temperatures can impair growth, lead to infection, and increase the risk of sepsis and death, according to Merck Manual.
If the temperature is too hot for you to take and you have to lower your thermostat, make sure you take the necessary precautions to prevent your newborn from developing hypothermia. But, you should also be careful of over-bundling and the effects that it can cause.
11 Is The Baby Getting Enough Liquids?
Whether its breast milk or formula, the food that a newborn receives provides the nourishment that is needed to thrive. This not only includes the essential vitamins and nutrients but fluids, as well.
If a newborn isn’t drinking enough, the risk of dehydration increases. This is true at any time of the year, but during the summer months, it can be particularly problematic. Why? – Because when the temperature is hotter, newborns - like all people - expel more fluid. This fluid is released via urination, sweat, and bowel movements. If they are releasing more fluids than they are taking in, their risk of dehydration increases significantly.
In newborns, the effects of dehydration can include increased irritability, lethargy, excessive thirst (though they can’t express that they are thirsty), sunken eyes and soft spots, and dry mouth. If dehydration continues for a prolonged period of time, the effects can be permanent or possibly even life-threatening.
To avoid dehydration, make sure you pay attention to the signs. If you notice your little one is creating fewer wet diapers, appears to have a dry mouth, or seems excessively tired, there’s a good chance that she or he isn’t getting enough fluids.
10 Forgetting To Moisturize
Not to sound redundant, but a newborn’s skin is extremely delicate (it’s worth repeating because so many new parents aren’t aware of just how sensitive their little one’s skin really is).
With that said, applying moisturizer is very important. Their skin is thinner, which makes it more susceptible to irritation and conditions like eczema. Moisturizing regularly is the best way to avoid skin problems. In the summer months, however, a lot of parents think they can skimp on the moisturizer because it’s hotter and therefore the skin is more hydrated. But, skimping on the lotion can lead to dry, flaky, uncomfortable skin.
To avoid problems, make sure that you liberally apply moisturizer at least once a day.
If your baby has dry skin, you may want to apply it several times a day. Choose fragrance- and dye-free formulas. Web MD notes that pediatric dermatologists actually recommend using petroleum jelly over lotion, as it is very effective for preventing and combating conditions like eczema.
The best time to moisturize the skin is right after bathing; however, you can moisturize whenever you would like. Just make sure that you really work in whatever product you are using and concentrate on all areas, not just those that appear dry.
9 Under Dressing
We have already discussed that over-dressing a newborn can be dangerous – especially in the summer. However, did you know that under-dressing can be just as dangerous?
Why is this? Well, because if you are outside in the sun and your little one is wearing nothing more than a diaper, there’s a real risk that he or she could develop sunburn. Sunburn isn’t comfortable for anyone, but can you imagine how unsettled a newborn whose skin has been burned by the sun will be? Plus, sunburn increases the risk of sun poisoning, which can be quite serious. And of course, it can lead to skin cancer later in life.
In addition to increasing the risk of sun exposure, under-dressing a newborn in the summer could possibly increase the risk of getting a chill. As we’ve said time and time again, newborns aren’t able to regulate their body temperature. If they’re in a room that has the AC blasting and they’re only wearing a diaper and a shirt, they could easily catch a chill.
To keep your newborn cool and comfortable, dress him or her in light, breathable fabrics instead of foregoing clothing altogether. Muslin is a great material, as is cotton.
8 Giving Cold Baths
A cold bath might sound like the best way to cool off on a hot summer’s day – for an adult. However, for a baby, it’s not really the best idea. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.
As has already been mentioned a few times, a newborn has developed the ability to regulate his or her own body heat. On top of that, newborns get colder much faster than adults. With that said, submerging a newborn in a cold bath can lead to serious problems. Namely, it can increase the risk of hypothermia.
Hypothermia is a condition that causes the body temperature to be drastically colder than what is considered normal. It can lead to a host of problems, including lethargy and slowed breathing. And on top of these dangers, a newborn is going to be completely startled when he or she is dunked into a tub filled with icy cold water, so you better believe that your little one will be very unsettled and will spend a good bit of time crying.
Instead of bathing in a cold bath to cool your newborn down, try lukewarm water. And, even at that, make sure that you don’t leave your little one submerged for too long.
7 Sunburnt Eyes
Babies – especially newborns – are more susceptible to the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Their skin isn’t the only thing that can be damaged; their eyes can be, too. Unfortunately, a lot of parents don’t realize this.
The lenses of a newborn’s eyes are more transparent than an adult’s, which means that more short wavelength light can reach their retinas. Excessive exposure to sun can lead to vision problems later in life, including cataracts, macular degeneration, sunburn of the cornea (yes, the eyes can be sunburned!) and various other eye issues, according to Kid Spot.
So, how can you prevent your little one’s eyes from being damaged by the sun’s UV rays?
Just like preventing skin damage from the sun, the best way is to try to keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible. When that’s not possible, place brimmed cap on his or her head to shade the eyes. You can also invest in a bare of infant sunglasses that feature UV protected lenses. These shades features comfortable straps that wrap around the head to ensure they won’t fall off. Not only will these glasses protect your little one’s eyes, but he or she will look so darn cute in them!
6 Leaving The Windows Wide Open
One those summer days when the temperature is actually comfortable and a light breeze is blowing, you might be inclined to draw open the windows and let some of that fresh air in.
While this might seem like a great idea, it could cause some issues for a newborn. If the windows don’t have screens, insects can easily make their way into the room and bite your little one (see the risks that are associated with insect bites in newborns mentioned above). And, even if the windows do have screens, leaving them wide open can lead to a chill. Though the weather might seem cool and comfortable to you, remember that your newborn’s temperature regulating abilities are virtually non-existent. That means that a cool breeze that you think seems refreshing can actually cause a serious chill in your little one. And when a newborn is chilled, the risk of hypothermia increases.
So, instead of leaving the windows wide open, try just leaving them open a bit. And, always, ALWAYS make sure that there are screens in place. You don’t want to risk having pesky and dangerous make their way inside and possible bite or sting your little one.
5 Improper Sun Protection
Since sunscreen isn’t recommended for newborns, how can parents ensure that their little one’s highly delicate skin isn’t subject to the damaging UV rays of the sun? WhattoExpect.com recommends keeping newborn babies out of direct sunlight. Mom and dad should keep them in a shaded area where their skin can’t be exposed to sunlight.
If keeping your newborn completely out of the sun isn’t possible you should use other techniques to protect him.
Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, booties, a hat and anything else that will cover the skin is a great way to protect that delicate skin. Remember to avoid using dark colors, heavy fabrics, high necklines, or anything that would lead to dangerously hot conditions. Instead, you might want to carry around an umbrella or use an umbrella stroller to stay out of the direct sunlight of the sun. Also, always make sure that you use light and flowing fabrics, like brushed cotton or linen.
Unfortunately, many new parents make the mistake of not practicing sun protection. Exposed skin can lead to irreparable damage and increase the risk of sun poisoning and skin cancer. Make sure you always take the proper precautions before bringing your newborn out into the sun.
Newborn babies don’t adapt to changes in temperature as well as older children and adults. That’s because they’re still developing the ability to regulate their body temperature. Plus, according to Stanford Children’s Health, babies lose their body heat at a much quicker rate than adults.
Given this information, it makes sense that parents often obsess over making sure their newborn babies are warm enough. Unfortunately, however, many moms and dads make the mistake over-bundling their little ones. Sure, you want to take precautions when the air conditioner is pumping at max coldness; but there’s such a thing as too many layers.
Over-bundling a newborn can increase the risk of hyperthermia, or a temperature that is much higher than normal (the opposite of hypothermia, in which the body temperature is far below normal).
Hyperthermia can lead to heat exhaustion, which can cause a number of adverse effects, including dizziness, dehydration, weakness, organ damage, and even loss of consciousness.
Due to the consequences of hyperthermia, parents should make sure that they use their best judgment. They should dress them in light, breathable clothing, and avoid heavy blankets and hats when the air temperature seems too warm. In other words, if mom and dad are uncomfortably warm, they should skip putting hats, booties, and blankets on their babies. Also, parents should monitor their newborns and pay attention to the signs of over-heating, which include sweating, flushed skin, and lethargy.
3 Leaving The Baby In The Car
Every summer, devastating news reports are issued about a baby that has perished as a result of being left inside a vehicle. In fact, it happens so frequently that it seems to be reaching epidemic levels.
Whenever the news of another tragedy about a child dying because he or she was left in a car on a hot day is shared, parents gasp in anger and frustration, stating that they would NEVER forget their baby in the car. Of course, most people don’t intend to leave their children in cars, but the reality this: it happens.
Lives are hectic and chaotic. You have a meeting, or you’re rushing to get some errands done and don’t think there will be any harm in leaving your baby in the car for a minute or two – or you’re just plain exhausted and have a total memory lapse…. Whatever the reason is, children are left in hot cars more often than you might think. Kids and Cars reports that an average of 37 children are left unattended in hot cars every year, and perish as a result.
No matter what time of the year it is, leaving a baby in a car is never safe and can result in devastating consequences; but in the summer months, it’s even more dangerous. Given the fact that the internal temperature of a vehicle can increase by 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, it’s easy to see why leaving a newborn in a hot vehicle can be so problematic, and in the worst case scenario, result in death.
2 Not Changing Diapers Often Enough
Changing wet and dirty diapers frequently is important all year long, but during the summer, it’s even more important. Why? – Because the summer season happens to be diaper rash season. And, not only are babies more apt to develop diaper rash when the weather heats up, but they are also more likely to develop yeast infections.
The cause of increased incidences of diaper rash and yeast infections during the summer months?
Exposure to excessive moisture due to sweat, as well as swimming. Water-logged diapers can wreak havoc on a newborn’s sensitive skin.
No parent wants to see their precious little one suffer from a diaper rash or a yeast infection. Not only are they uncomfortable, but there is a chances that they can spread to other parts of the body, or that they can develop into a bacterial infection. Of course, none of these are good things.
The best way to beat summer diaper rash is to ensure that you are changing your LO’s diaper as frequently as possible, especially when it’s hot out. If you do take your newborn swimming (there’s nothing sweeter than a mommy-and-me swim class with an infant!), make sure that you change the diaper immediately after exiting the water.
Also, you can apply hypoallergenic powder to the diaper area to help keep it dry or use diaper rash ointment to prevent a rash or yeast infection from developing.
1 Excessively Bathing
There’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly bathed newborn baby. In fact, the entire act of bathing a newborn is so enjoyable. It’s great bonding time for parents and baby, and it’s just fun (at least I think so). However, there’s such a thing as too much bathing.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, bathing babies too often isn’t a good thing. Frequent exposure to soaps and shampoos can dry out their super delicate skin and can increase the risk of eczema.
In the summer, it’s natural for parents to want to bathe their newborns frequently. Hot temperatures can lead to sweaty babies, and bathing seems like the ideal solution to remove that sweat buildup and make newborns more comfortable. However, experts suggest giving fewer baths; two or three times a week is satisfactory. Also, after giving a bath, you should make sure that you apply moisturizer and that all of the products you are using (shampoos, washes, and lotions) are fragrance- and dye-free.
How can you soothe your newborn’s sweaty skin between baths? A simple wash down with a clean, damp sponge will do the trick. And, make sure you're concentrating on areas that are prone to sweat, like the diaper region, behind the knees, and under the arms.