So as the country looks forward to a heatwave
I have to admit it fills me with dread
My little family do not cope well with heat
And so I am busy making preparations
The paddling pool is out
Fans out of the loft
Duvets swapped for sheets
Freezer stocked with ice cream and pops
Funky hats at the ready
And lots of ideas for watery, icy even, messy play
If, like me, the heat makes you shiver
You might enjoy my ten tips for keeping kids cool in a heatwave
1: Stock your fridge and freezer
When the weather hots up it is harder to keep hydrated. Children and babies will need to drink water. I find my children often need encouraging to drink more when it is hot so we make fruity ice lollies, smoothie ice pops and stock up on frozen yoghurt and ice cream. I also like to offer sugar free squash as well as water on hottest days to make sure they are getting the hydration that they need.
2: Keep the house as cool as can be
It is hard to keep every room cool so we focus on our lounge. The windows are opened wide but the curtains remain shut all day. It means the room is airy but not hot. We have some quiet TV time and an indoor picnic lunch on the hottest days. We try to stay out of the sun between 11 and 3 so having a cool indoor space makes this more possible.
3: Make a safe, cool sleeping area
When the temperatures soar safe sleep must be a priority. You can control bedroom temperatures by opening windows but keeping curtains and blinds closed during daylight hours. You can put a fan into the room to circulate area. Put the fan near the windows to catch any breeze coming in. For a couple of hours before sleep time place large bottles off ice in the room and ice in front of the fan, these measures can help to cool the air. All my children sleep in just their nappies or pants in high temperatures. The older two find this good fun. ‘No pyjamas!’ they exclaim. Bea currently sleeps with us and when the temperature is very high in our room I do not use any bedding at all. If your baby is in their cot or bed and likes to be covered you could put a thin cotton sheet over their legs, but make sure it is tucked in tight. For more safe sleep information linked to temperatures please see this fact sheet from The Lullaby Trust.
4: Use sunscreen
When the summer is at it’s hottest we are trying to avoid dehyrdration, heatstroke / heat exhaustion and sunburn. When you are getting the children dressed in the morning, before they put on their clothes cover their body in suitable sun tan lotion to protect their skin. You can and should add to this initial coverage throughout the day, especially if children have been in or played with water. We use organic lotion from Green People who have a new sensitive, scent free, SPF 30 available this summer.
5: Wear cotton clothing and hats
If you choose to dress your children in more than their nappy or pants, choose light cotton clothing to keep them cool. Also encourage your children to wear a hat. Believe me I know that this is easier said than done. I have had some success with Bea with a sun hat from Shmuncki. These hats look great, they protect little heads from the sun and because of the design, the shape, Bea seems to forget that she has it on. And therefore does not spend all day pulling it off!
6: Enjoy water and sensory play
Hot days are great days for paddling pools in the garden. They are also great for sand and water play. Lots of fun can be had and children can keep cool with the water at the same time. You can add things to the water to make it even more exciting. There are lots of ideas to inspire you here.
7: Play in the shade
Set up some play activities in the shadiest areas of your garden. Put out a rug with some teddy bears and a tea set. Put out a tuff spot full of wooden blocks. Make an outdoor reading nook in the shade of a tree. Make the shadier places more appealing to little ones than the sun.
8: Invest in a UV safe pop up tent
These are great for popping up in the garden or the park or at the beach to make shade where there is none. We have the Babymoov Anti UV Tent. It is super quick and easy to put up and provides a safe space to sit and play with baby. The tent has mesh sections which allow for good ventilation. We really like the Babymoov tent and will be using it lots this summer I am sure. Babymoov also have the Babyni Playpen which offers UV protection and shade.
9: Eat little and often
Many adults eat much less when it is hot, our children are likely to do the same. So be prepared for a change in appetite and encourage children to eat little and often, to graze. Offer fruits and vegetables with high juice content such as cucumber, tomatoes, oranges and melon. Offer cheese and crackers, mini sandwiches along with the ices and smoothies I mentioned earlier on. Try not to worry if children are off their food, offer them lots to drink instead.
10: Have a cooler quiet bathtime
Have a cooler bath, cooler temperature and perhaps slower paced. Allow children to relax and cool down in the water before starting getting ready for bed. Maybe add some polar animals for small world play. Thinking cold thoughts can make us feel cooler, apparently. On the hottest of days it has to be worth a try.
A sneaky but important 11: Look after you!
Make sure that you are drinking more and resting more. The family will cope better with anything and everything if you are well fed, well hydrated and not totally drained by the heat of the day. Remember yourself when applying sunscreen and make sure your own bedroom is cool enough to be comfortable at the end of the day.
So, these are my top tips for keeping kids cool, and therefore keeping my cool, as we head into the heatwave.
I would love to hear yours.