Red Nose issues advice on blankets and bottles in summer as temperatures soar
With overheating being recognised as a contributor to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Red Nose have issued some guidance and reminders to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector about the importance of ensuring infants and toddlers to not become too hot while sleeping.
ACECQA promotes Red Nose as the recognised national authority on safe sleep practices for infants and children, with guidance given to services that policies and procedures should be based on current research, and recommended evidence-based principles and guidelines.
Safe summer sleeping
Red Nose’s chief midwife Jane Wiggill says that while a lot of ECEC services don’t use blankets or other coverings for children in warmer weather, some may be requested by parents to do so.
“Some parents may prefer to continue to use blankets in summer, for a variety of reasons such as cultural rituals or religious beliefs,” Ms Wiggill says.
“If so, it’s important to choose thin, lightweight options that can be removed easily according to the room temperature.
“With overheating being a risk factor for SIDS, anything that acts as an outer layer of an infant or child’s sleeping attire can contribute to overheating, such as sheets, blankets, sleeping bags or swaddles.
“Bedding always needs to appropriate to the season or temperature of the room.”
If a younger baby is being wrapped to sleep, Ms Wiggill advises using cotton or muslin wraps in hotter weather,with a nappy and singlet underneath, adding that on warmer days no further bedding should be required.
If using a sleep sack or bag to support sleeping, Red Nose said services should make sure baby is wearing the correct TOG for the room temperature.
“With sleep bags, the baby should only require a nappy underneath and no extra bedding,” Ms Wiggill said.
Red Nose also issued advice about feeding babies in the warmer summer months, saying that for babies under six months of age, more regular feeding may be required to combat dehydration.
“Bottle-fed babies under six months of age do need to be fed more often in hot weather,” Ms Wiggill said. “In instances where breastfeeding is not an option or breastmilk is unavailable, than a suitable infant formula is recommended.”
She went on to advise services and parents should make sure formula adheres to the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code (Standard 2.9.1 – Infant Formula products).
When bottle feeding a baby under six months of age during the summer months, it’s important to increase the number of formula feeds, rather than another liquid, Ms Wiggill said, adding that “water or other drinks are not needed, unless recommended by a doctor”
Babies older than six months of age should be offered small amounts of water before or after feeds, Red Nose advised. Young children can be offered regular drinks of water during the day.
“Babies and toddlers are not able to tell you if they are thirsty, so it’s important to offer drinks frequently.” Ms Wiggill said, adding that signs of good hydration include “plenty of wet and/or dirty nappies, good skin colour and an alert, reasonably contented bub.”
“Eight wet or dirty nappies in 24 hours is a sign of good hydration, and if toilet trained, the urine should be odourless and clear or very pale in colour,” she explained.
“Good skin colour and muscle tone is also a sign of good hydration, as is a baby who is alert, contented, and does not want to feed constantly.” she added, before advising that breastfed babies should be offered more feeds.
“Extra fluids such as water are not necessary when baby is exclusively breastfed,” Ms Wiggill said. “However in hotter months, baby may feed more frequently and for shorter periods than usual because they are thirsty”.
Further “hot tips for hot months” can be found here