Helping keep kids happy and hydrated in the heatwave

New Zealand is in a heatwave! This tropical weather can be really nice (bring on the beach), but it also comes with some hazards that we might not be used to dealing with - especially around our little people.

In hot weather, babies and young children can rapidly lose body fluids through sweating - much more so than adults.

This fluid loss can lead to dehydration, which is especially dangerous for small children.

Dehydration symptoms:

  • dry mouth, lips and tongue
  • fewer wet nappies than usual or dark-coloured urine (wee)
  • no tears when crying or sunken eyes
  • cold hands and feet
  • mottled bluish skin
  • unusual lack of energy, sleepiness or difficult to wake.

If your child has these signs, visit your doctor or an after hours clinic immediately or call 111 for an ambulance.

You can also call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 if you're unsure.

Keeping kids hydrated and happy

Here are our top recommendations for keeping your little ones safe, cool, and hydrated in the warmer weather:

Food and water

  • Breastfed babies may want to feed more frequently, and breastfeeding mothers need to maintain their own hydration by drinking frequently. Newborn sleepy babies may need to be woken for more frequent feeds.
  • Bottle-fed babies may want to feed more often. Offer formula or cooled boiled water.
  • Offer older babies and children regular drinks during the day, not just at meal times.
  • Water is ideal, but diluted fruit juice (1 part juice and 10 parts water) can be an option for children for refuse water. You can also offer ice blocks, fruit pieces (oranges, watermelon) or crushed ice.

Staying cool

  • Cool tepid baths or sponging can be helpful if the heat is distressing for your child.
  • Dress in light clothing.
  • Keep the baby in parts of the house where it's cool.
  • Avoid going outside in the heat.
  • If you go outside, dress in light clothing, keep in the shade, and use a sun hat and sunscreen.


  • Avoid sleeping in a pram as these can be airless.
  • At night the air can be cooled by hanging wet towels over chairs or windows and letting the air pass through them. Do not sleep directly under open windows.
  • If you're using a fan, don't point it directly at your child.
  • Cover mattresses and waterproof sheets with cotton sheets to absorb sweat and prevent rashes.
  • Remove bumper pads as they can inhibit air flow around baby.

Travelling in car

  • Give your child plenty of water to drink during car trips.
  • Dress your child in cool, comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Check the temperature of car seats, harnesses and seat belts before your child gets into the car. Hot metal, plastic or leather can burn your child. If surfaces are hot, cover them with a damp cloth and then help your child into the car. It can be a good idea to cover car seats when you're not using them.
  • Don't loosen your child's harness in summer. It's important it fits snugly whether they are awake or asleep. A loose or twisted harness can put your child at risk of injury in a crash.
  • Use shades on your car windows to protect your child from the sun if your windows don't have tinting. Putting a hood or bonnet over a capsule to protect a baby from the sun reduces air circulation.
  • On long journeys, stop at least every two hours so everyone can get out of the car and have a stretch. This includes babies, who can roll around on a rug on the ground.
  • It's a good idea to plan car travel for the cooler times of day. Cool your car as much as possible before you let your child get in.
  • Never, ever leave your child alone in the car.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your local Plunket people or call PlunketLine (our free, 24/7 parenting helpline) on 0800 933 922.




31 January 2019

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

An interesting link from Plunket
Here's something I read on the Plunket website I thought you might find interesting.
Please separate with commas.