Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke
Babies and children need to be watched carefully during hot weather carefully because they are at a higher risk of becoming unwell than adults.
Things to remember
+ Babies and children overheat and dehydrate quickly in hot weather
+ Breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby more often in hot weather
+ 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, not even for a moment
How does hot weather affect my baby or child? Hot weather can affect your baby or child because their bodies cannot adjust to changes in temperature as well as adults. Babies and children sweat less, reducing their bodies’ ability to cool down, and they generate more heat during exercise than adults. They are at risk of overheating and developing a heat-related illness. Heat can also make existing illnesses worse.
Keep your baby and child healthy in hot weather Follow these tips to keep your baby and child healthy in hot weather. If your child is sick (fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, or even a mild cold), they need extra attention to ensure they remain well hydrated and don’t overheat. See your doctor if your child is unwell.
Drinking enough fluids: Offer drinks or breastfeeds frequently. A good indicator that a baby is getting enough fluids is if it has six to eight pale wet nappies in a 24-hour period. Offer young children water as their main drink throughout the day. Fruit juice, fruit-based drinks and fizzy drinks are not recommended. Older children often forget to drink because they are busy playing. Encourage your older child to drink regularly.
Keep Cool: Dress in cool clothes. Ensure sleeping environments are cool and there is good fresh air circulation. When out and about try and spend the hottest part of the day inside. If you go out in the sun stay in the shade when possible, where a wide brim hat and loose clothing. Use small amounts of 30+ Sunscreen on skin which cannot be covered. On hot days, take breaks out of the heat and drink plenty of fluids.
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°C 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.
Signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and what to do for your baby or child:
Heat exhaustion: Signs and symptoms – Looking unwell and more irritable than usual, Pale and clammy skin, Sleepy and floppy, Fewer wet nappies than usual, Dark urine (normal is light straw colour), Refusing to drink (babies may feel uncomfortable to have skin contact when breastfeeding – try a towel on skin), Intense thirst (but as the baby gets weaker, he/she may drink less), Dry skin, mouth and eyes (no tears when crying), Soft spot on baby’s head (fontanelle) may be lower than usual.
Heat stroke: Signs and symptoms – (All the signs of heat exhaustion as above plus): Rising body temperature, Red, hot and dry skin, Rapid breathing, Vomiting, Confusion, Coma (not responding when touched or called)
Read this article in full and find out how to respond to your child’s symptoms here: www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/beattheheat/Pages/babies-children-hot-weather.aspx