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Babies in hot weather

7-minute read

See a doctor or call healthdirect to speak to a registered nurse on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) if your baby:

  • looks unwell
  • is refusing to drink
  • has fewer wet nappies than usual
  • is vomiting

Key facts

  • In hot weather, babies and young children are at risk of becoming overheated and being affected by heat.
  • When it's hot, offer your baby more to drink — breastfeeds of bottle feeds.
  • Dress your baby comfortably in loose clothing in hot weather.

How does hot weather affect my baby?

When the weather is very hot, it's hard for babies and children to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Babies and young children don't sweat as much as adults, which reduces their ability to cool down. This makes them more at risk of becoming overheated and being affected by a heat-related illness.

How can I keep my baby safe in the heat?

Offer your baby extra drinks. For babies younger than 6 months this should be breastfeeds or formula.

Babies over 6 months can be offered small amount of cooled boiled water after or between their milk feeds.

During feed times, use a towel or sheet between you and your baby to avoid skin contact.

If you're breastfeeding, make sure that you drink plenty of water too.

Dress your baby comfortably in light, loose clothing.

Stay inside on very hot days. If you need to go out, keep outings short and try to stay in the shade.

Never leave your baby in a car, even for a short time. The temperature in a parked car can quickly climb to dangerous levels.

How can I keep my baby cool when they are sleeping?

To keep your baby cool when they are sleeping:

  • Make sure that air can move around your baby by removing any padding around the cot.
  • Use cotton sheets to absorb sweat and prevent prickly heat rash.
  • Put your baby to bed in their nappy only.

Remember to make up their cot according to the safe sleeping guidelines. Always place your baby on their back to sleep and make sure their head is uncovered.

Think about moving your baby's cot to a cooler, well ventilated room in the house. Use curtains or blinds to block out direct sunlight where practical.

Keep the windows open to maintain airflow. If you are in a hot climate, use an air conditioner or a fan. Make sure that the cool air doesn't blow directly on them.

Expect your baby's sleep patterns to change when the weather is hot. They may be sleepier in the hotter parts of the day and have bursts of energy when it cools down.

Never leave your baby to sleep in a pram in hot weather.

How to keep your baby cool in hot weather.
How to keep your baby cool in hot weather.

How can I tell if my baby is too hot?

To check how warm your baby is, place your hand on their chest or back. This will give you a better idea of how hot they are than just feeling their hands or feet. Generally, a baby's hands and feet feel cooler than their body.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough to drink?

A good sign that your baby is getting enough to drink is if they've had 6 to 8 pale wet nappies in the last 24 hours.

Take your baby to a doctor if you think they may be dehydrated.

Heat rash (prickly heat)

Babies often develop heat rash (prickly heat) because they can't control their temperature as well as adults and older children.

The symptoms of heat rash are:

  • small, raised spots on the skin
  • mild swelling of the skin

It can appear anywhere on the body.

Try to keep your baby's skin cool by:

  • dressing them in loose cotton clothing
  • using lightweight bedding
  • giving them cool baths or showers
  • giving them plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration

See your doctor if you're worried about your baby's rash.

What are the signs of heat stress?

Signs of heat stress are:

  • listlessness (looking tired) or irritable
  • pale and clammy skin which becomes hot and flushed
  • increased sweating

The amount of sweating decreases as heat stress progresses towards heatstroke.

Try cooling your baby with frequent lukewarm baths or sponge your baby with a cool face washer. NEVER use cold water.

See a doctor if there is no improvement or if you are worried.

How can I protect my baby when we're outside?

Babies and young children can easily get sunburnt in Australia, even on cooler or overcast days.

Try to stay indoors with your baby during the hottest part of the day and plan outings which are inside.

If you do need to go outside, it's important to follow sun protection guidelines.

  • Slip on loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your baby's skin as possible.
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed bucket or legionnaire-style hat to protect your baby's face, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade. Stay in the shade as much as possible. Remember, you still need sun protection in the shade, because UV radiation can be reflected off surfaces and reach your baby.
  • Slop on SPF30+ or higher, broad-spectrum sunscreen on exposed skin.
  • Slide on some sunglasses. You can find sunglasses for babies with soft elastic to keep them in place. Look for sunglasses labelled 2, 3 or 4. Don't use toy sunglasses, as these won't protect your baby's eyes from UV radiation.

The Cancer Council recommends using physical barriers to protect your baby's skin such as:

  • clothing
  • hats
  • using shade

The Australasian College of Dermatologists recommends minimising the use of sunscreen on babies aged under 6 months. This is because their skin absorbs more than the skin of older children.

Sun protection guidelines.

You can check the weather forecast for your area on the Bureau of Meteorology website. You can also download the Cancer Council Sunsmart app to find out the UV levels in your location.

In a baby capsule or a pram

An enclosed baby capsule or pram can get very hot. Make sure that air can flow around your baby when they're in their baby capsule or pram.

Covering your baby capsule or pram with a cloth to keep the sun off your baby is not recommended. This is because it can increase the temperature in the baby capsule or pram.

It also makes it harder for you to see if your baby is suffering from heat stress.

When you're out and about with your baby, make sure that you regularly look to see how they are.

In the car

When driving in the car, you can use sunshades on the windows to protect your baby.

Never leave babies or children unattended in a car.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2023

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Need more information?

Heat rash or prickly heat: babies & kids | Raising Children Network

Heat rash, prickly heat or miliaria looks like little red spots on the skin. It might appear if your child gets too hot. It’s common and easy to treat.

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Heat-Related Illness Signs, Symptoms And Treatment | SA Health

The signs and treatment for heat-related illness, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

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Heat related illness – preventing heatstroke - Better Health Channel

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ACD A-Z of Skin - Miliaria

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Summer safety - ACT Government

How to stay safe during the hot summer months.

Read more on ACT Health website

Dehydration and hot weather -

Dehydration is the loss of water and salts from the body. You are at particular risk of dehydration during hot weather.

Read more on myDr website

Hot weather and child safety - Better Health Channel

Babies and children can quickly lose body fluids in hot weather, which can lead to dehydration.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Sun and heat protection for babies and kids

Babies and children can easily get sunburnt and heatstroke, even when cool or overcast. Read on to learn how to protect your child.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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