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How to spot the signs of heatstroke in babies and toddlers

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can occur if they get too hot

Andrea Caamano
Andrea CaamanoWebsite Editor
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Summer is finally here and with temperatures currently higher than 30 degrees in cities such as Brighton and London, babies and young children are at risk of developing heat-related illnesses. One common condition that can occur if a child gets too hot is heat exhaustion, and if it’s not spotted and treated early, there's a risk it could lead to heatstroke. This potentially serious and life-threatening condition can put a strain on their brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.

baby heatstroke© Photo: iStock

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These two illnesses can develop very quickly over a few minutes, or gradually over several hours or days. According to the Baby Center and NHS these are the signs to look out for when detecting heat exhaustion:

  • tiredness and weakness
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • hot, red and dry skin
  • a headache (which may cause irritability)
  • muscle cramps
  • vomiting
  • heavy sweating
  • intense thirst
  • a fast pulse
  • urinating less often and having much darker urine than usual
toddler heatstroke© Photo: iStock

How to keep your sleeping baby cool in hot weather

If you notice that your child has signs of heat exhaustion, this is what you can do to help:

  • Lie them down in a cool place – such as a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
  • Remove any unnecessary clothing
  • Talk to your baby reassuringly to keep him calm.
  • Cool their skin – you can use a cool, wet sponge or flannel
  • Fan their skin while it's moist – this will help the water to evaporate, which will help their skin cool down
  • Get them to drink fluids – breastmilk or formula or water if they are six months or older

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can often be prevented by taking sensible precautions when it's very hot. These include:

Keeping them out of the heat:

  • Keep your child out of the sun during peak hours.
  • Try to keep them in the shade, apply sunscreen and make sure they wear a hat
  • They should wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
  • Check that they are staying cool during car rides and never leave them alone in a parked car. Heat stroke can occur within minutes in a car, where the temperature quickly climbs much higher than the outside temperature.

Keeping them cool:

  • Give them more fluids than usual on hot days
  • Give them a cool bath
  • Keep them indoor if you can

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