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Managing sleep in the heat

As the summer days warm up and the sunshine beams it can cause a change to our little ones sleep and settling. It is really normal for our little people to become more tired, flustered, feed more frequently and be impacted by the heat and how comfortable this makes them feel.

Baby's can't regulate their own body temperature so we need to be aware of how we can keep them cool in summer and support their sleep and settling. Babies lose excess heat through the tops of their heads and armpits so avoid headwear during sleep periods and sleeping bags that have sleeves in the warmer months.

Let's break it down; here are my top tips for summer sleeping:

Keep your little love hydrated: You may find that they feed more frequently during the summer months. Whether your baby is breastfed, formula feed, drinks water or a mixture of all - keeping their fluid intake up is key. Just like us, when they get warm they become thirsty so will likely need extra feeds (or longer one's). If your little one is under 6 months of age be weary of offering too much cooled, boiled water as they can fill up on this and it will take away their thirst for milk which holds calories, unlike water. If your baby is unwell always seek medical advice from a Lactation Consultant or GP.

Dressing your baby: Numerous companies today have fantastic visual aids to help you decide what to dress your baby in and what tog rated swaddle/sleeping bag to use dependent on the room temperature. Just like us, some babies run hot whereas others feel the cold. Over the warmer months I would suggest dressing your little one in breathable, natural fibres such as 100% cotton or merino. These are both lightweight, breathable and wick away moisture.

What swaddle/sleeping bag do I use? Most sleepwear companies have charts detailing the appropriate attire and sleeping bag/swaddle to use.

The TOG rating is a rating given to the sleeping bag/swaddle which indicates how warm/thick the sleeping bag is and what sort of season/temperatute its suitable for. The thicker the sleeping bag the higher the tog rating. See below a great chart from Love to Dream detailing tog rating's for different season's.

Sleep at home: If your home has great ventilation or your keep it a constant temperature with aircon then you may find that you can still dress your baby in a cotton body suit with a lightweight sleeping bag. If your house is warmer, or baby's room is facing the sun then I would suggest a floor fan to circulate air around their room. Point the fan past their cot/bed rather than directly on to them and ensure all cords and fan blades etc are well out of arms reach.

Heat during the day is heightened around midday. Keeping curtains/blinds closed from mid morning will help to keep as much of the heat out as you can. If you wait to draw the curtains late afternoon you're now trying to remove the heat from the room too!

Blackout blinds can also help keep rooms cool, keep the heat out and support a dark sleep space to aid in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Pram naps in summer: As above, it's warmer in the afternoon than the morning so if you enjoy offering an assisted nap in the pram ideally it would be in the morning rather than in the peak of the days temperature. Cover the pram with a breathable, UV resistant shade cover when you are out walking. Muslin wraps/blankets and the like are great to cover the baby capsule with shade but they aren't UV resistant. Instead use pram sunshades which are UV tested. The inside of a pram can get quite hot so ensure that their is plenty of ventilation and dress your little one appropriately.

Front pack/carrier sleeps: If your like me you love a good carrier nap. But in the height of summer it can pose some issues with keeping your baby's body temperature regulated, not to mention keeping them out of the sun. Dress your little one in long lightweight clothes to protect their skin from the sunlight. Ensure that they have clear airways and good circulation within the front carrier. Avoid covering the carrier as this will only rise the temperature within the pack. If you do choose to use a front carrier then do so in the cooler hours of the days, to avoid the higher temperatures and stronger UV rays.

Car naps on the go: Just like prams, cars heat up very quickly. If you anticipate that you are going to offer an assisted car nap then be proactive. Lower the windows down or turn the aircon on before you put baby inside and head for a drive. It can take some time for cars to cool down internally, especially if your little one is rear facing. Some capsule covers will have a hood to shade your baby's face from the sun, otherwise you can purchase reasonable priced sunshades for the windows. Avoid covering the capsule with loose blanket/swaddles as these are a safety risk if your baby is unsupervised in the backseat (e.g. they don't have an adult sitting next to them). Be weary of carseats directly in the sun too; metal buckles and plastic can become very hot if in direct sunlight - having a towel/blanket to cover the carseats when they aren't in use can be a great idea.

How can I cool my baby down before a nap/bedtime? Offering a cooler bath or some water play before their sleep time can help with cooling their body temperature. Ice blocks, frozen food in mesh feeders, cold flannels and coolers foods such as yoghurt can help as well. Offer plenty of nappy free time, expose them to some breeze and allow free movement as well as dressing your baby appropriately will help keep them comfortable.

Go and enjoy the summer days and stay SunSmart!

If you need some sleep support and you are ready to make a change I'm here for you! Book a discovery call and let's chat about your little one's sleep and how I can help your family get the rest you all need to thrive.

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