For those living in the UK you might have noticed it’s quite hot here at the moment. For those who live elsewhere, this means that the temperature is in the mid 80s or late 20s / early 30s depending on your temperature unit of choice and that all the Brits who have spent the rest of the year complaining about how grey and miserable Britain is, are now moaning about the heat. We do so love to talk about the weather after all.
Having a baby does give you a reasonable excuse to moan about the heat though. A comfortable temperature range for a baby to sleep in is 16-20 degrees celsius; currently our bedroom tends to sit around 30 degrees at night with all the windows open which is quite far from the ideal.
The issue for babies is that they can’t regulate their own temperature to the extent we can. As birth.com.au explains, we can sweat to cool down, but a baby only has sweat glands active on its head, hands, feet and neck (only 25-30% of its body area). We shiver and move about to warm up, babies can curl into the foetal position, move about or cry for help but to really keep warm they need to burn up brown adipose tissue which requires a lot of energy and yet is unfortunately undermined by them not wanting to feed when they are cold.
The way we know that our room is dastardly hot (other than baking ourselves) is our friendly Philips Avent thermometer that awesomely doubles up as a nursery thermometer and bath thermometer (it floats!) – highly recommended.
Keeping the room cool
We are doing what we can to try and cool down our bedroom – having all windows open and a pedestal fan by the window that is away from her bed (the internetz tell me she should not be directly in front of a fan, but no idea why this is). This makes about 2 degrees
difference given it’s still in the mid 20s / 70s outside.
There is also the poor man’s air conditioner as suggested by Yahoo Voices! by hanging up a wet towel on a chair, fan or near a window you can cool the air from the water evaporating from the towel. We haven’t tried this one yet…
Who needs clothes?
As the hot spell has continued, less and less clothes are being worn by Elphie. When she was born she was in a babygrow and vest often supplemented with a blanket, this dropped to a babygrow at night, then a vest and now she is spending all day (unless we are out – we have a semblance of decorum!) and night just in her nappy. She can get cold in the middle of the night with just her nappy though – what seemed to help with this and to settle her was swaddling her lower half (she hates having her arms trapped as she likes to sleep with her arms in the air like she just don’t care) in a large muslin. The following from Aden & Anais are fabulous and also fabulously expensive. These were bought in a pregnancy-induced “have to buy, must nest” period where money was deemed no object but I have no regrets as they truly are fabulous.
And Uma Thurman has them so they must be good.
It’s never last orders at the mummy milk bar
Breast milk is crazy cool stuff – in hot weather your body changes it so more watery foremilk (as opposed to the fatty hindmilk) is produced to avoid your baby getting dehydrated. A less cool side effect is that less hindmilk and more heat both make baby hungrier so expect more feeds – yesterday Elphie was averaging 1hr 45 from the start of one feed to the start of the next and was fed 12 times.
For extra fun and giggles in hot weather, Elphie gets more of her favourite activity – bathtime! Splashing around in the tepid water should in theory cool her down. However, this has to be balanced against the heat induced by the temper tantrum that bathing results in – you see bathing involves removing the nappy, and Elphie don’t like being nekkid, no ways, no how. So bathtime is a little traumatic for all involved… But it does on balance cool her down a bit.
All these are all well and good but the thing I would like someone to explain though, is how as a foetus she coped with an ambient body temperature of 37.7 degrees celsius and yet out in the world she wants it 18+ degrees colder to avoid overheating. I imagine it’s something about the constant regulated temperature in the womb as opposed to the varying one out here, but would love an explanation if anyone has one!