- Infants are particularly vulnerable to the sun's damaging rays, no matter their complexion. Research shows that early exposure and sunburns actually have a multiplying effect on the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting the use of sunscreen on children under six months. Instead, avoid bright sun on your babies, using lightweight long pants and long-sleeved clothing or sunshades to create a barrier.
- Consider swimwear that covers more of your baby's body, like a long-sleeved rash guard. Bucket hats and baby sunglasses are super cute and protective, if your baby will tolerate them.
- Stroller and car seat covers can be used to shield an infant, and you can drape lightweight blankets over wraps and carriers to provide an extra sun barrier.
- Typical muslin blankets provide only a small amount of sun protection. Consider a special blanket for the summer that provides a higher level of protection without affecting the lightweight fabric, like this.
- If you need to use sunscreen on young babies, use a small amount and focus it on areas that cannot be easily covered, like their faces and hands.
- When children are older than six months, choose a sunscreen that is easy to apply, has a high SPF/UPF rating, and reapply every two hours.
- Children under three years old cannot regulate their body temperatures as effectively as adults.
- Be especially mindful in warm weather, especially when there is a change in routine, so your child is not unintentionally left in a hot vehicle. There are commercial alarms that can help remind you, but a simple practice like a clothespin on your seatbelt or placing your cellphone in the back seat can help remind you when your child is in the car.
- Children under six months old typically get all the hydration they need from breastmilk and/or formula. Older babies may be offered sips of water, and in the summer, offering cool drinks can help keep your babe from overheating.
- When the temperature really rises, you can use extra breastmilk or formula in popsicle molds to create a cold treat for your baby. Be careful that your baby can't choke on any hard or icy bits by using a teething mesh feeder.
- More than just an irritation, parents are also concerned that bug bites transmit disease to their young children. But the AAP recommends not using chemical insect repellent on children younger than two months. For your youngest children, use long pants and long-sleeved shirts, hats, and stroller netting where appropriate.
- For babies older than two months, choose a repellent with the lowest percentage of DEET that will be effective for your situation. Note that the AAP recommends a maximum level of 30% DEET, reporting that higher levels do not offer additional protection. Always consult your baby's pediatrician before use.
- Be careful with aerosol application of insect repellents. Consider spraying the product on your hands and rubbing it on your child to avoid spraying in or around his eyes and mouth..
- After outdoor play, examine your child for ticks or new insect bites. Bath time is a great time to examine your child's full body, and you can wash away the day's sunscreen and insect repellent before putting on pajamas.
- For many families, summer means trips to the pool, beach or lake. Vigilance is key when you have your baby in or around water -- be clear which adult is responsible for keeping eyes-on the kids so there is no doubt that someone is watching.
- Wading pools and splash pads are a great way to introduce your young ones to water play, though they will still need close supervision. At splash pads or spray parks, be sure your baby has protective clothing and shoes when appropriate -- especially for early walkers.
- Water play is possible without a pool or special swimwear. Give your baby a paintbrush and a small bucket of water and let him paint the sidewalk! Spray bottles and large sponges are endless fun for young children, especially when given a grown-up task like cleaning toys. Even muffin tins with ice cubes on a towel in the kitchen can give a baby cool water experience. Be creative and remember everything you offer could be put into his mouth.
Summer is a wonderful time to explore the outdoors with your baby, and these simple precautions will make it safer to get out and play. So get out there and enjoy; before you know it, we will be bundling up again!