How Newton’s Law of Cooling Affects Babywearers
Well, not really. But I liked how the title sounded. What this post is really about is preventing heat-related illness or injury while babywearing in warm weather. Heat-related illness claims about 334 lives per year.6
Heat exhaustion results from dehydration and is more common in the early summer months. Symptoms include:
- Tired, dizzy, anxious
- Nausea and vomiting
Treat by moving to a cool space, rest and have the child drink cool water. 3
Heatstroke is a medical emergency. This happens when someone’s body temperature rises to greater than 104 degrees F. Symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
If you suspect heatstroke, CALL 911, remove clothes, apply cool water to the body, and use fans. People who have experienced heatstroke remain at a higher risk for recurrence later in life.3
Certain populations are at higher risk of heatstroke:
- Children younger than 4 and adults older than 65
- People with a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis, heart disease or lung disease
- People who take certain medications such as beta-blockers, sedatives, antipsychotics, water pills, medications to treat Parkinson’s (inhibits sweating),5 and stimulants (ADHD medications)4.
- BMI greater than 25
- People with sunburns 5
Effective ways to dissipate body heat when babywearing in warm weather
Evaporative (heat loss) – As perspiration or moisture on the skin evaporates into the air, the body is cooled. Stand in cool misters. Drip water on your head and on baby’s head. Keep yourself and your baby well hydrated, but do not overhydrate. Evaporative cooling is not as effective in very humid conditions.
Conductive – Being in contact with cooler surfaces. The area of the human body and the thermal conductivity of the air surrounding the body. Unclothed skin cools more easily than clothed skin. Stay in the shade. Adult bodies cool more easily than a child’s. Monitor behavior closely.
Convective – The movement of air or water over the skin. Use fans, stand in a breeze. Movement of water over the skin can cool someone 25 times faster than air. Sit in a puddle, put your legs in the pool, etc.
Radiation – People with higher metabolisms generate higher body temperatures (young people). People with higher percentages of fatty tissues may not radiate heat as well and are at higher risk of overheating and require more water to stay hydrated. Reducing physical activity in the heat will help you stay cooler.1, 2
Infants and children are at higher risk for heat-related illness (King, 1995 pg. 1839). It takes longer for children to acclimate to hot conditions and children do not have the sweating capacity that adults do.
In conclusion, you CAN babywear in the summertime! But take precautions to ensure everyone stays healthy and enjoys the summer months.
- King, Patricia L., (1995). The child with musculoskeletal or articular dysfunction. In Donna L. Wong & David Wilson (5th), Whaley & Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children (1794-1867). St. Louis: Mosby, 1995