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How to keep kids cool in hot weather

A young girl dressed in summer clothes, including a summer hat and sunglasses, applying suncream.

Experiencing a heat wave? While most of us love summer weather, it can be hard to keep cool when temperatures soar. If your family loves to be outside, you’ll need to know how to keep children of all ages safe.

So, read on for some helpful tips to keep kids cool in hot weather.

How to keep kids cool

Warmer weather can be lovely, encouraging us all to make the most of the great outdoors. Children absolutely love it, playing out for hours at a time in nothing but shorts, T-shirts and swimwear.

But just like adults, children are susceptible to potential health and safety risks during hot conditions. In fact, it can be even more dangerous if the right precautions aren’t taken.

Three of the biggest culprits are sunburn, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. These are all serious health risks, so it’s crucial to take extra care on hotter days.

In children, heat exhaustion can show itself in symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness, high temperatures and feeling or being sick, as well as feeling irritable. If your child doesn’t cool down within about half an hour, it can potentially turn into heatstroke - which requires emergency medical help.

So, it’s safe to say that keeping your children cool in hot weather is absolutely critical.

The good news though is that there are things you can do to keep your kids safe and comfortable during even the stickiest of hot spells.

Wear appropriate clothing and footwear

The first and easiest step you can take to keep kids cool in hot weather is to change up their wardrobe. There are two key considerations here - comfort and sun protection.

To ensure your kids can play and move about at a comfortable temperature, aim for lighter fabrics and breathable materials. Loose fitting clothes such as dresses, shorts, skirts and roomy playsuits are best, so there’s plenty of room for the fresh air to circulate.

This extends to footwear too. A great choice is a pair of sandals, some of which have open toes and sides so those little feet have plenty of ventilation.

Sandals with leather linings are also a good choice, as they absorb moisture and help to keep feet dry.

When shopping for sandals that are tough enough to withstand a full summer of active play, look for styles which have cushioned insoles and padded ankles. These give lots of support to busy little feet, while also providing cooling air and ventilation. Adjustable rip-tape fastenings are also a must-have, making sandals easy to put on and adjust to fit.

Now for the second consideration - sun protection.

Whenever the sun is out (and even when it’s hidden behind the clouds) a good sun hat is a must-have. It should fit well so it doesn’t fall off during the day, but not so tight that your child ends up with a hot and sweaty head. You could even go for a style that has a flap to cover neck and shoulders, offering additional protection from the sun.

In changeable conditions, layered clothing is a smart choice. A few light layers can offer sun protection, while at the same time your little ones can remove layers if they get too warm.

Splash about

When the weather is warm, it’s the ideal time for water play. Splashing about in paddling pools and under sprinklers is a great way for kids to stay cool. You can also go swimming at the local pool or paddling at the beach, either of which are ideal family activities for the summer holidays.

Just remember to reapply that suncream regularly, as it washes off and becomes less effective over time.

Get some shade

Finding shade is essential when the sun is out. So when finding a good picnic spot or setting up the garden for a play session, make sure there’s some shade available. It could be natural, such as under a large tree, or you can rig up a shelter, awning or even pop up a gazebo to sit under.

You could even plan a walk in the woods on really hot days, where you’ll all find it refreshingly cool. If you’re staying at home, make sure to shut curtains and close blinds, especially in kids bedrooms. This can help keep room temperatures down, which is particularly helpful when trying to get to sleep at night.

When out and about, it’s always a good idea to have some extra cover ready. This could be a pram cover for babies, or a UV-protected pop-up sun shelter for children of all ages. These are particularly good for the beach, where temperatures can reach uncomfortable highs.

Keep them hydrated

Our last tip is perhaps the most important - keep kids hydrated! Drinking plenty of water is essential for both children and adults, as it helps to regulate body temperature and prevent a number of heat-related health problems.

We lose a lot of water from our bodies when we sweat, more than most of us realise when we’re having fun in the sun. This lost water needs to be replaced, which means drinking lots of water regularly throughout the day.

However, it can sometimes be a challenge to get kids to stop for a minute and have a drink. You might need to be creative, such as making up bottles of cold fruit squash or even making your own fruity ice pops.

And to keep hydration levels up when you’re out, it’s a good idea to take more than one water bottle with you. Fill each up with chilled water before you go, and look out for opportunities to refill in cafes and restaurants while you’re out.