By Emma Lovell
As we head into the lovely, long hot days of summer, it's handy to have a tool bag of tips and strategies for beating the heat and keeping kids cool and safe, because whether you have babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers or school-aged children, keeping cool in summer is vital.
Not only do we want to keep them safe, we want our kids happy - overheated kids often means tempers are short, and tantrums are a'plenty.
The tips below will help keep the whole family both safe and happy this summer.
Regular hydration will help your body from overheating, and you can get creative with making sure children keep their water intake up.
Babies: Offer extra breast or bottle feeds on hot days to ensure dehydration doesn't kick in. Once they're over six months, it's OK to offer them sips of water when they're thirsty.
Toddlers: Always have their water bottle handy wherever you go. Have it in a pocket on the outside of your bag to keep it visible to your toddler. You'll be surprised how often they reach for it and take a sip if they can see it.
School age kids: Try adding some fruit into water – cucumber, lime, orange and lemon all work. It gives a fresh subtle taste and is something different and fun for the kids. You can make yummy ice blocks out of water and juice/smoothie by using ice block moulds – healthy, and fun!
And last but not least, fill a spray bottle with water and give your face a spritz to help beat the heat.
Make friends with the freezer
Keeping cool can be helped along by the coolest place in your house!
Babies: Put baby's favourite teether in the freezer overnight – it will help with any little teeth coming down, but also keep baby's core temperature down. (Make sure you allow it to warm up slightly so it's not too cold for bubba).
Toddlers: Pop some watermelon, oranges and grapes in the freezer and throw them in the lunch box. They keep you hydrated and bring an element of fun to summer lunch time.
School age kids: Fill a bottle of water to halfway and freeze it – then whenever you add fresh water, the ice in the bottom makes the water instantly cool.
Keep out of the sun
If you don't have air conditioning at home, seek out places that do – not only will your child be more comfortable, but they can burn off some energy in an air-conditioned play centre. Libraries, the supermarket, shopping centres and the movies are all places you can escape to beat the heat.
Babies: Be mindful of taking your baby out in the pram in the heat. If you do need to go out, use a safe pram cover like the CoziGo pop up sleep and sun cover. It's universal to all strollers and capsules, offers UVP50+ to keep the sun off your baby's delicate skin and is fully breathable and air permeable to allow air flow to move freely around the stroller.
Toddlers: When you hit the beach, take a beach shelter of umbrella with you. There is often no natural shade when you're down on the sand and kids always want to stay for longer than planned, so make sure there's somewhere to sit completely protected from the sun.
School age kids: Slip, slop, slap is important for everyone, but as kids get older it's hard to keep them still and they love to move around. Make sure they slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat, preferably a wide brimmed hat to protect the whole face and back of the neck.
Dress for the weather
When the temperatures soar, consider loose-fitting clothes and breathable fabrics.
Babies: In the past, the old adage was 'the less you wear the cooler you'll feel' – so children were stripped down to undies or swimmers. This is fine for indoors, but it's best to avoid having our babies precious skin exposed to direct sun.
Toddler: Choose organic materials – cotton or bamboo is best as it's breathable and won't make you feel hotter. Wide brimmed hats are recommended to get as much coverage as possible.
School age kids: This is a good time to introduce sunglasses as they're old enough to keep them on and it's just as important to protect our children's eyes as it is their skin.
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Water, water, water!
What kid doesn't love water play?! Even cooling just your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin so having a paddle in summer is a great way to cool down.
Babies: Sit on the grass with a tray of water and a selection of accessories such as spoons, a small ladle, some smooth river rocks (larger ones to prevent choking) and a few plastic blocks. The water will be sat in and tipped over giving hours of fun and keeping baby cool.
Toddlers: Set up tubs of water and get creative - add toys, food colouring, shaving cream or sponges to provide an endless array of imaginative play. If it's too hot outside, play inside in the bath. Another great activity is painting with water on a fence or concrete wall – totally mess free and a ton of fun!
School age kids: If you've got a shady spot outside, a dip in the pool will cool you down, dig out the super soakers for a water fight, or setup the sprinkler for slip 'n slide!
Limit physical activity
Staying cool is much easier, particularly in the middle of the day, if you're taking it easy.
Babies: Don't be afraid to offer an extra little nap on hot days – heat can make babies overtired and this will help combat the problem.
Toddlers: Running around outside can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke so choose calm activities that are in the shade, or indoors. The less you move your body on extremely hot days, the better.
School age kids: When you choose fun activities, get the kids out in the early morning or late afternoon when it's a little cooler and perhaps plan to watch a movie or read a book during the middle of the day when it's hottest.
Keep the sun and the heat out
Close up the house early in the day so you don't let the heat in.
Keeping all windows, curtains and blinds closed will keep your house cooler. As the temperature starts to drop in the afternoon, open up the house and get the air moving.
Keep the fans on to circulate the air and make you feel cooler. Even the bathroom exhaust fan will help move hot air out of the house!