Born and bred in the tropics? We’re certainly grateful for round-the-clock sunny days (especially when paired with the sea and sand)! Still, it’s a wise idea for us parents to be properly equipped with knowledge on how to keep our kids healthy in our hot and humid weather – given that children are more vulnerable to the effects of tropical weather, due to their developing bodies.
Read on as we bring to you some practical ideas on how to beat the heat, with tips on ways to protect our little ones and manage the powerful effects of the sun:
1. Recognising the signs of heat illnesses
There’s (almost) no escaping having our kids play in the heat if you’re living in the tropics. Take note of signs that they may be overheating, as heat stroke in children can occur without proper hydration or rest. Before heat stroke symptoms appear, children often show signs and symptoms of milder heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion. Being aware of the early symptoms of overheating can help in preventing heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion does not usually need emergency medical help if you can cool down within 30 minutes. But if it turns into heatstroke, it needs to be treated as an emergency.
What to do:
- Bring your child to cool, shaded place, preferably in an air-conditioned area
- Offer cool fluids that contain salt (like sports drinks)
- Apply a cold wet towel or sponge
- If your child has painful cramps, gently stretch or massage the sore muscles
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
First aid while waiting for medical help:
- Go indoors into the shade and undress your child
- Immerse your child in a bathtub of cold water
- If a bathtub is not available, sponge your child with cold water
- Place cool wet towels or ice packs on their neck, armpits and groin
- Avoid pushing fluids unless your child is conscious and alert
Babies and children overheat and dehydrate quickly in hot weather, making it important that they get enough fluids to counter this effect. Besides one of the ways to prevent heat related illnesses, there are a host of other benefits of getting your daily dosage of water!
How much fluid do we need in a day?
How much fluid we need in a day varies depending on our age, size, medical conditions, level of physical activity, and of course the weather (guzzling down water after a hot and active day out is the best feeling ever- listen to your body)! A rule of thumb for adequate hydration is a clearer and lighter shade of urine. We know how parents are used to discussing pee and poop, so here is a very useful urine colour chart for your reference!
Daily fluid recommendations by The Institute of Medicine:
- Men: 13 cups (about 3 liters)
- Women: 9 cups (a little over 2 liters)
- Pregnant women: 10 cups
- Breastfeeding women: 12 cups
- Children (and teens): 6 to 8 cups of water
If your active toddlers and kids are always on the go, a rule of thumb for water intake during play (and exercise) is half a cup to 2 cups of water every 15 to 20 minutes to quench their thirst and help them stay hydrated.
2. Stay safe in the sun
Infants and toddlers have lower levels of melanin and a thinner outermost layer of skin, making them more susceptible to the harsh effects of UV radiation. Get them to wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors, and limit sun exposure, especially during the peak-intensity hours of 10am to 4pm. With 25% of lifetime sun exposure occurring during the first 20 years of life and UV exposure in the younger years being strongly associated with a future risk of skin cancer, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our children stay sun-safe throughout their developmental years.
Apply good sunscreen
Of course, however – we can’t just live in a shell and hide away in our air-conditioned, covered rooms! Sunscreen is your best friend if you are living in the tropics, providing a crucial daily shield for UV rays (it certainly shouldn’t be reserved just for beach holidays)! Applying sunscreen should be a part of the whole family’s daily routine, especially for young children. Janice Heard, community paediatrician with the Canadian Paediatric Society Public Education Advisory Committee, explains that we are still exposed to UV rays even on an overcast day, emphasising that clouds are not a replacement for sunscreen.
What to look for in your child’s sunscreen:
Here’s a quick rundown: chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s harmful rays, while mineral sunscreen blocks and reflects it instead. Paediatricians and dermatologists recommend that young children use mineral sunscreen and avoid using spray-application sunscreen, as the mists might be inhaled. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends using sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 15, and the American Academy of Dermatology raises the bar to SPF 30.
If you haven’t found a children’s sunscreen that ticks all those boxes yet, check out Biore’s UV Kids Pure Milk broad spectrum mineral sunscreen. Not only does this sunscreen fulfil the recommended criteria, but it’s also been formulated specially for children aged 2 years and up, with a milk-type consistency that’s easy to apply and remove with soap. Its hypoallergenic formula makes it perfect for daily use, with moisturising shea butter, great resistance towards sweat, water and friction, and no added alcohol, parabens, colourants, fragrances or oxybenzone.
Here’s some extra good news for mamas with squirmy kids (no more wriggling out of your grasp when lotions are applied!). Harvey Lui, a staff dermatologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency, explains that parents do not need to worry too much about having to rub in sunscreen, as sunscreen actually just needs to sit on the skin in order to filter out UV rays. The three other things you should keep in mind regarding application though, is to:
- Apply sunscreen around 30 minutes before being in the sun, as sunscreen takes time to bind to the skin.
- Apply sunscreen evenly and generously.
- Reapply sunscreen (every two hours if out in the sun, and every hour if in and out of water).
3. Keep cool
Babies and children sweat less, reducing their ability to cool down, and also generate more heat during exercise. Here are some ideas on ways to keep your children cool(er):
Dress for the occasion
Reduce sweat and help your children cool off by dressing them for the occasion. Choose light-coloured and loose fitting clothing, as lighter shades help to reflect sunlight and keep your child cool. If you’re planning to be out in the sun a lot, consider buying clothing designed to block UV rays, and do remember to put on footwear that breathes well too!
Invest in a stroller fan
If you have children who still sit in strollers, you won’t regret investing in a stroller fan! These clip-on fans are versatile and perfect for keeping both parents and kids cool, whenever out and about in the heat. They can be used on the stroller, car seat or crib, and are also useful for additional circulation, when dining out at outdoor humid spaces.
We agree that outdoor play is important, so do continue to head out with the kids and simply remember to play safe! Go out when UV radiation is weaker, choose outdoor playgrounds that are well-shaded, and watch the pavement, too. Pavement or blacktop heats up quickly and can burn the skin- so avoiding activities on or around pavements could help to prevent hot surface-related injuries.
And there you have it #makchicmumsquad! All you need to know about keeping your kids safe and healthy in our sunny, hot and humid weather. Go ahead and grab that sunscreen, head out to the great outdoors (during low UV intensity hours, of course) and have (safe) fun in the sun!
This is a sponsored post by Biore.
Keep your children safe from harmful UV rays with Biore UV Kids Pure Milk, a broad spectrum mineral UV protection sunscreen that has been gently formulated for the sensitive, delicate skin of every child. It has no added alcohol, parabens, colourants, fragrances or oxybenzone, and has a high resistance towards sweat, water and friction. Its milky, moisturising texture is easy to apply and wash off with soap, making it easy to incorporate into your child’s routine for daily use.