Summertime is all about fun in the sun. For young families, this could mean festivals, barbeques, strolls in the park, and days by the pool. But, for nursing mothers and their babies, it can be challenging to beat the heat while breastfeeding. We’ve prepped six essential tips and tricks for staying cool while breastfeeding in the summer heat so you and your baby can stay comfortable while bonding through all the seasons together.
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but is critically important for you and your newborn. As a nursing mother, you should be consuming about 16 cups of water per day. In the heat of summer, you might find that you want more, and there’s no reason to hold back. You’re drinking for two, after all!
In hot weather, you might feel concerned about your baby getting enough liquids, and it’s important to remember that breast milk is all your little one needs before the age of 6 months! In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for your baby’s first six months of life – and that means plenty of your liquid gold, but no other foods or liquids (including water). Breast milk is actually composed of 80% water and contains all the nutrients and liquid your baby needs to stay healthy and strong. When it comes to hydration in summer, focus on making sure you’re drinking enough water and that your little one is able to nurse on demand and/or get all the breast milk they want.
Keep Cool with Summer Breastfeeding Clothes
Another excellent way to stay cool in the summer is to dress for the occasion. Light, breathable, and loose clothing can all help you stay cool and make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, neck, and shoulders from the sun, and wear layers you can easily shed as the temperature changes.
There’s nothing cuter or more fun than buying your baby new outfits, so be sure their summer wardrobe is ready too! Choosing the wrong outfit for a hot summer day can leave your baby uncomfortable and cranky – plus, they can overheat much faster than an adult. Consider choosing natural, breathable fabrics like cotton for summer outfits, and if the weather is right, let their arms and legs breathe with a bodysuit. Short sleeves will help them regulate their temperature naturally while baby sunscreen can help protect their sensitive skin from sun damage. Just be sure to come prepared with extra layers, in case of unexpected weather changes!
It’s important to be prepared for travel when nursing in the summer. In addition to the countless must-haves you already carry with you when traveling with your baby, it’s important to take special care to avoid the hot summer sun. Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun as much as possible, so make sure that you’ve brought along some form of shade for them, such as a large sun hat. If you’re concerned that you might have to breastfeed in a sunny location, bring a light blanket to cover the baby and protect your exposed skin if desired. Leave grandma’s quilt at home and instead take something thin and breathable to keep your baby comfortable while breastfeeding. Excess heat can make your baby cranky, uncomfortable, and reluctant to nurse. Bringing everything you need to keep them cool and comfortable is the best way to ensure that breastfeeding goes as smoothly as possible.
If you find that the heat is proving too much for you or your baby, consider shortening your nursing sessions. Focus on breastfeeding in shorter, more frequent intervals that will allow you both to cool off in between. While this is easier said than done in certain settings and situations, it is a great idea to do so whenever you can.
It can also be beneficial to keep in mind the hottest periods of the day. Timing your feedings to avoid the heat of the day (as much as possible) can help make life easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable during the peak hours of heat each day.
Location is Key
When breastfeeding in the heat of summer, choosing the ideal location can make all the difference. You might find yourself in any number of settings this summer, whether you’re attending barbeques, pool parties, or town festivals. You might not know exactly where you’ll be when your little one gets hungry, but if you keep a keen eye on your surroundings, you might find helpful areas where you can escape the heat when it comes time to breastfeed.
Considering that you’ll likely be breastfeeding for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, getting comfortable is important. Whenever possible, find yourself a place indoors in the air conditioning for a little respite from the heat. When the luxury of air conditioning isn’t an option, find a shaded, breezy location. You can even put your feet in the pool while you do it! Finding a comfortable place for breastfeeding is essential if you want to stay happy and cool this summer.
Reduce Body Heat Naturally
Dipping your feet in the cool waters of a pool is just one of many ways that you can naturally cool your body while breastfeeding. You could also enjoy a cold beverage, use a fan, or have some ice cream. Misting your baby’s hands and feet with a little bit of water throughout the day can help them stay cool too! If your baby feels as though he or she is becoming too warm, however, be sure to get them indoors or in a cooler, shaded spot right away. There are countless ways that you can reduce your body temperature before or during breastfeeding, and all are fair game so long as they’re safe and keep you both comfortable.
Interested in more summertime breastfeeding tips? Check out Medela’s Summertime Breastfeeding Tips. Using these tips can help ensure that you and your baby share some happy, beautiful, and comfortable memories of your first summer together.