Summer heat can be rough on all of us, but your baby can't tell you that it's the heat that's making her uncomfortable and cranky. Summer can be a dangerous time for babies. They run the risk of developing a heat rash, sunburn on their delicate skin, and dehydration. When it comes to keeping your baby safe, your best bet is to be prepared.

Clothing

Dressing your baby in the right clothing is a good way to help her stay cool in the hot months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lightweight, loose-fitted clothing preferably made of a natural fiber such as cotton. For babies 6 months and under, those clothes should be long, covering the arms and legs. In addition, a wide-brimmed summer hat helps protect her face and head from the sun. Babies under 6 months can't use sunscreen, so it's important to use clothing strategically and safely.

Hydration

Babies should drink about twice as much as usual during the hot summer. However, babies under 6 months should not have water, and those from 6 months to age 1 should only have it in tiny amounts. It is important to breastfeed your baby more often or feed her more formula throughout the day. Discuss the best options for your baby with her doctor.

Baby Carrier

The confinement of the baby carrier plus your body heat can make a baby heat up quickly. Your best choice is to avoid using one in the summer. If you have no other option, opt for a lightweight fabric and check your baby frequently. If you notice that her face is flushed, she is hot to the touch, or seems uncomfortable, remove her immediately.

Right Timing

The hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. are notorious for being the hottest part of the day. Stay inside in the air conditioning during these peak heat hours. It is best to head outdoors with your baby either early in the morning, late in the afternoon, or in the early evening. If you must be outdoors in the middle of the day, stay in the shade. There are tents made for the beach, as well as umbrellas, and of course trees — nature's sun blockers. Just make sure that there is good ventilation wherever you keep your baby.

Frequent Cleansing

Check your baby often for heat rash in areas that are not noticeable, such as the neck, arms, and thighs. Give her baths to clean those areas especially, as this is where she will be the sweatiest and stickiest.

Summer time is fun, but can be dangerous for newborns and infants. Take precautions and, of course, don't ever leave your baby in an unventilated area such as a car or a hot room. Stay in the shade, use sunscreen on any child over 6 months of age, and be sure to talk to your doctor about any additional steps you can take to protect your baby.