Having a baby at home means you’re often cooped up. In fact, parents of newborns often leap at the chance to get out of the house anytime their babies aren’t sleeping.
But what temperature is safe to take baby outside? In the dead of summer, it can simply grow too hot for a baby to spend much time outdoors. And the same goes for winter — there are plenty of cold days when it’s just too frigid for your baby to leave the warm confines of home.
To help you know when it’s too hot and when it’s too cold, here’s a look at how to handle extreme temperatures with your baby.
How Hot is Too Hot for a Baby?
When is it too hot for your baby to be outside? Generally speaking, your baby is going to have a hard time cooling him or herself down once the temperature surpasses 80 degree Fahrenheit.
Why is it so hard for babies to cool down? First of all, they don’t sweat like adults do. And we underestimate just how much a nice sweat helps us cool down. Babies suffer heat stroke much more quickly than do adults, and they can also become dehydrated much more quickly than adults.
But it’s impossible to keep your baby inside at all times when the temperature rises into the 80s and above. So here are a few tips to help your baby keep from overeating if and when you do need to be outside:
- Stay Hydrated: Your baby needs to eat as much as possible on hot summer days to ensure that he or she stays hydrated. Check the diaper often. If your baby isn’t urinating or has not urinated in a while, he or she may be getting dehydrated.
- Keep the Air Moving: It may be tempting to place a blanket or some other covering over a stroller to block the sun. But, more dangerously, these coverings actually limit airflow. Try to keep the air moving by finding shady spots that don’t require anything to cover a stroller.
- Avoid Body Heat: The baby carrier can create too much body heat and leave your little one feeling limp. Try to avoid it, if at all possible, on hot summer days.
- Dress Appropriately: Stick with lightweight and light-colored clothing. What your child wears can greatly influence whether or not he or she overheats on a hot day. Also, consider putting your baby in a hat with a wide brim to help keep the sun away.
- Find Some Shade: Shade is a must on hot days. The temperature can shift greatly simply when you move in and out of the shade, so find a nice spot under a tree where you can feel the breeze and enjoy the day with your baby.
- Use Plenty of Sunscreen: If your baby is under 6 months, use some SPF 15 on just his or her hands, feet and face when you can’t avoid the sun. Sunscreen isn’t typically recommended for babies under 6 months, but it’s needed in direct sun situations.
Also, remember that the effects of heat will be felt more greatly when there’s direct sunlight. If your neck of the woods is experiencing a particularly hot time of year, try to limit outdoor hours to before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. That will at least keep your baby from being exposed to the most intense sunlight of the day.
How Cold is Too Cold for a Baby?
Any temperature below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) should be a red flag for parents. You can limit your time outdoors to a few minutes when the temperature is between 20 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but consider staying indoors altogether if the temperature is in the teens or lower.
If the temperature is cold but slightly above freezing, you can spend more extended time outdoors, as long as you take the right precautions. Here are a few ideas for keeping your baby warm on cold winter days:
- One More Layer: Take into account what you need to wear to stay comfortable on a cold day, and then add one more layer to that for your baby. If you’re wearing a long-sleeve shirt, a coat and a hat, maybe add a sweater in between the shirt and coat for your baby. This rule of thumb should help your baby stay comfortable even in temperatures hovering around freezing.
- Take Advantage of Body Heat: You want to avoid body heat in summer, but it’s one of your baby’s best friends in wintertime. Consider breaking out the baby carrier so that your bodies are close to one another and sharing heat.
- Short Bursts: No matter how cold it is, always consider spending time outdoors in short bursts. Have some fun outside, then come back inside to warm up. Repeat as needed.
Always watch for warning signs, no matter what precautions you take. What kinds of warning signs indicate your child is too cold? Look for shivering, as well as cold or red hands, feet or facial features.
If your child does become too cold, try to avoid rubbing your hands on his or her cold spots — this could damage the skin. Instead, use washcloths soaked in relatively hot water to help warm your baby. If your baby fails to warm up after getting into warm, dry clothing, call your doctor.
Final Thoughts on What Temperature is Safe to Take Baby Outside
When in doubt, play it safe. Your baby is so precious and so delicate. While he or she is often resilient and able to keep up as needed, the hottest and coldest of days pose special challenges that require special accommodations from parents.
If you ever become concerned that your child has grown too hot or too cold, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a medical professional. Again, it’s far better to play it safe than to risk the wellbeing of your precious baby.
Have you had an experience with a baby getting too hot or too cold? If so, let us know about it via our contact form, or you can always leave a comment in the section below.