While New Zealand experiences hot summer weather Te Whatu Ora is reminding parents to be especially mindful of making sure babies and toddlers are kept hydrated and are not exposed to too much sun.

Niwa is predicting an extended period of hot weather over the next week, with temperatures in some regions, predicted to reach over 35 degrees.

Starship Children’s Health paediatrician Dr Jin Russell, says, “If you are feeling uncomfortable in the heat, your baby will be too. Babies are less capable of regulating their temperature, hot weather can quickly overcome your baby resulting in overheating and possible dehydration.

There’s a number of things you can do to ensure your baby stays well during the hot weather:

  • Offer your baby extra fluids (in the form of water or breastfeeds)
  • Dress your baby lightly – a nappy and singlet will be enough and keep them covered with a sheet while they sleep.
  • When you take your baby outside in hot weather, make sure that their arms and legs are covered to avoid the possibility of sunburn.
  • If possible, avoid travelling in the car during the heat of the day.
  • If you are using a fan to keep the air in your baby's room moving, make sure this is out of reach of young children, and don't point the fan directly at the baby.
  • If your home has air-conditioning, ensure that your baby does not become too cold – the room temperature should be comfortable at around 24 degrees.
  • If your baby is very hot, they may enjoy a lukewarm bath – don’t use cold water though, as this can be too shocking for their system.

Dr Russell says, “Most importantly  never leave your baby or toddler alone in the car – a car’s interior can heat up very quickly when the windows are wound up and your child will overheat very quickly which can be potentially fatal.

“Toddlers also need some extra care when it’s hot too. Offer them plenty of water to drink, make sure they’re wearing a hat, and cover up in the sun or let them play in the shade. Remember to slip, slop, slap and choose a 30+ broad spectrum hypoallergenic sunscreen that is suitable for young children.

“Playing with water in a shady spot outside is a great way to cool down. Always supervise toddlers in or near water. Home-made ice blocks made with fruit juice are an excellent and healthy way to help your child cool down.

Dr Russell says, “If you are at all worried about your baby or toddler you can call Healthline 24/7 for free health advice on 0800 611 116.  If you need to be seen, they can tell you what to do and where to go if you need to be seen urgently.”

For further information go to https://www.tewhatuora.govt.nz/our-health-system/environmental-health/heat/

ENDS

Media contact: hnzmedia@health.govt.nz