Children are vulnerable to heat because they do not always take steps to cool down when they are too hot. For that reason, it is important that caregivers help small children keep cool. This page contains tips and more information about symptoms.

Tips to avoid feeling uncomfortable in the heat

  • Give children something to drink often, preferably water. It is important that children drink before they feel thirsty. You should therefore make sure they are getting enough to drink.
  • Do not plan any activities that involve vigorous exercise. Adjust the games they play. Hold the activities in a cool spot, indoors or near the building. Sometimes it is more comfortable to be inside than outside.
  • Do not let children play in the sun too long and put sunscreen with an SPF factor of 50 on children before they go outside.
  • Find ways to cool off, like water games and baby pools. Put these in the shade and supervise children at all times. Change the water every day.
  • If there is an outdoor sports day, it is a good idea to cut the programme short and take more breaks. Make sure plenty of drinking water is available. Instead of vigorous exercise or games, have children play water games in the shade.
  • To make sure the youngest children get enough to drink, you can add extra water to their dairy products. Offer foods with a high water content, such as fresh fruits (melon) and vegetables (cucumber, tomato).
  • At naptime, let children sleep in just their diaper and romper suit under a sheet.

What symptoms due to heat can children get?

When it is hot, children may tire faster than usual. They may also complain of a headache or they might find it more difficult to concentrate. Sometimes they can start to pant or seem short of breath. In serious situations, the body can become dehydrated and overheated when too much moisture is lost and the body temperature rises. Pay extra attention to signs of dehydration in young children, such as:

  • excessive sweating;
  • dry mouth;
  • fewer trips to the toilet/fewer wet nappies (and dark urine);
  • dizziness, nausea/vomiting or muscle cramps;
  • crying (in more serious cases, without tears);
  • reduced physical activity, seeming lethargic or sleepy. At worst, children may lose consciousness.

If a child shows these signs, move them to a cool place and give them something to drink if they are able to drink. Contact a doctor if the symptoms are serious or the child’s condition does not improve.