Children and heat, what are the essential precautions to be taken? The advice of Antonino Reale, Head of First Aid and Emergency at the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital.
In this article
- Risk of dehydration
- The power supply
- Cool in the hottest hours
- Air conditioning
- Refreshing bath
- Bathing in the sea
- Travel by car
- What to do if heatstroke is suspected
Beware of the risk of dehydration!
The younger they are, the more children are at risk of dehydration. This is because they sweat more, they are unable to effectively disperse heat and as if that were not enough they are unable to communicate to their mother that they are thirsty. This is why it is important to offer him a drink often, especially when you are in the hottest places where you sweat the most.
The risk particularly concerns children with chronic diseases, such as heart patients or those with kidney problems, who can take drugs, such as diuretics, which increase fluid loss.
Can newborns / infants be given water to drink?
No, infants do not need to drink water in the first months of life. Breast milk, as well as that in formula, is made up of over 95% water. For this reason, not only is there no need to add more water, but it is also advisable that the infant does not take other liquids (water, herbal teas, etc.) in addition to milk in the first four to six months.
In fact, there is a risk of unnecessarily filling the stomach, which will arrive at the feeding with a false sense of satiety and to establish bad habits (especially at night).
From when should water be introduced for small children?
A small amount of water during meals (30-50 ml) can be offered to the child with the introduction of the baby food, but it is not mandatory. Read all about when to add water to babies' diets
Ok to a fluid-rich diet.
In summer, preference must be given to a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, which contain a high percentage of liquids and mineral salts that are lost with sweating. Instead, limit the fats, which are needed by the body to produce heat that we just don't need right now!
Bring a bottle of water or a bottle with you, so that your baby can drink whenever he is thirsty. If he is still breastfed, it is best to offer him milk more often, without waiting the usual amount of time between feeds.
Stay cool in the hottest hours!
In the middle of the day, the child must be kept at home or in a cool place. If we take him to the beach, he leaves at 11 and can be back after 17 pm; in any case, babies under 6 months of age must not be exposed to direct sun.
Remember that it is not enough to keep it under an umbrella: first of all a part of the UV rays also passes through the textures of the fabric, and then the children are habitual, they have the time of lunch, that of the afternoon nap, of the snack, which must be respected, even on vacation.
Air conditioning yes, but in moderation.
To cool the rooms, the air conditioner is an excellent solution, even in the baby's room, but we avoid lowering the temperature in an exaggerated way, to avoid too sudden changes between inside and outside, we decrease the ventilation and direct the fins so that the wind does not reach him directly. A good alternative is the fan, which moves the air and helps skin transpiration.
Ok to a refreshing bath.
If it's very hot, you can bathe your baby a couple of times a day. The important thing is to use only small amounts of cleanser, so as not to irritate the skin. Excellent products based on rice or oat starch, which have a refreshing and soothing effect. Or the mild and oily cleansers. You can also decide to bathe only with water.Read also: Should a baby bath be done every day?
And swimming in the sea?
It is pleasant and restorative, to avoid inconveniences, however, it is better to do it away from the hours of digestion. If after a feeding of mother's milk even just an hour is enough, after a light breakfast, for example with milk and biscuits, or after a plate of pasta with tomato sauce, it will take about 2 hours; if you then have a complete meal, with proteins (for example meat) and fats, you will have to wait at least 3 hours.
Another criterion to follow is the temperature of the water: if it is cold it is better to wait for the end of digestion, if instead it is a question of bathing in the inflatable pool, where the water heats up quickly, it will be possible to shorten the times a bit. While waiting, the baby can cool off by bathing his little hands and feet in water.Read also: congestion risk: can children take a bath after eating?
Travel by car
If you are traveling with a baby on board, choose the coolest hours of the day and protect your child from the sun with special parasols. Ok to the air conditioner, but once again don't overdo it with too cold temperatures. And above all, do not leave it in the car parked in the sun!
If you suspect heatstroke
If, despite all the precautions of the parents, the child exhibits symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, headache, low blood pressure, fever, even high, it may be that he has suffered from heat stroke.
What to do?
Even if the symptoms are mild, an evaluation by the doctor is always useful, who, based on the degree of dehydration, will decide what to do. In more serious cases, neurological symptoms may also occur, such as delusions: in this case, the use of the emergency room is a must.
To learn more about the topic: holidays with childrenRead also: Small disturbances on vacation
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