Neighbors and friends told me they could find almost zero internet information on cooling tiny babies in extreme heat. No time to lose with cooling your baby down, so let’s get to it!
- Keep the lights off or very low.
- Do frequent 10-15 minute tepid baths for baby (not cold). Baby can be in bath with you!
- Skin-to-skin may sound counter-intuitive, but this is actually the best way to regulate a hot baby. Your homeostasis is more developed than theirs and you can co-regulate them. This is proven for infant fevers. Your feet in an ice bucket or cold water can cool you down while baby is on your chest.
- Use cool, not cold, wash cloths over baby’s arms and legs (and wrists!) Water too cold or ice might make them shiver and overstimulate their nervous systems.
- Remember that a fan over ice in a metal bowl works wonders, just stay all in that one room with the door closed, lights off.
- If you are nursing, stay extra, extra hydrated- but not just with water- with electrolytes (salts!). I love NUUN tablets but you can make your own mix at home with salt and lemon.
- Feed baby more frequently, this isn’t a time to stick to a schedule, no matter formula or human milk.
Worst Case Scenarios:
If baby feels very hot, take their temperature. If they can’t wake or are too lethargic to drink, bring them in to a hospital.
If an infant who does not have an illness gets above 102 degrees F, bring them in to a nice cool hospital for fluids. Even your pediatrician’s office may be cooled and ready for you to just hang in the waiting room. (I’d personally prioritize this acute heat situation over any fears of Covid).
Air conditioning is a huge privilege. Breathe and stay calm. Remember your baby is likely to be just fine with you to care for them. Babies all over the world in the hottest of places live and thrive.
Stay cool! Be well!
Moorea Malatt is a Lactation Counselor, Sleep Educator and Consultant, Postpartum Doula and is a PMH-C trained in Perinatal Mental Health.