What to Wear
The change of season from winter to spring heralds a change in your baby's wardrobe as well. It's time to put away those thick fleece sleepers and thick nighttime blankets. To keep your baby comfortable as the mercury rises, look for lightweight cotton fabrics for both your baby's wardrobe and crib.
Robyn Brown Surdel, president of The Robyn's Nest, suggests looking for clothing that is cool, but protects your child from direct sun. "Babies are prone to heat rash and sunburn," says Surdel. "So keep them cool as you would yourself ... dress in lightweight, light-colored cottons that tend to breathe better in warm weather."
"Make sure to keep as much of [your baby's] skin covered with clothing as possible," adds Dr. Iannelli.
Spring means not just rising temperatures, but ever-changing, unpredictable weather. This is a good time to invest in a rain fly for your baby stroller (Graco makes an inexpensive rain jacket for under $25). Also, look for a mosquito net for covering your stroller or baby backpack. Skeeta makes a multi-purpose mosquito net that fits most carriages, strollers, baby carriers, and playpens; it sells for under $10.
Prepare yourself for anything when venturing outdoors with your little one. Dress your babe in a cool, cotton, long-sleeved shirt, pants, socks, and don't forget a sun hat or bonnet as well as rain gear. Also, keep in mind that light-colored clothing won't attract bugs and it will also reflect sunlight and heat, keeping your baby cool.
Here Comes the Sun
Eighty percent of a person's lifetime exposure to the sun happens before his or her 21st birthday. Dr. Iannelli writes, "It is now well known that exposure to sun puts people at risk for skin cancer and premature aging and that most of that exposure comes during childhood ... Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer by almost 78 percent."
Until 1999, the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) did not recommend the use of sun block for babies under 6 months of age. Now, though the AAP continues to recommends that babies and young children be shaded from the sun at all times, they state that if shade and proper clothing are temporarily unavailable, a small amount of sunscreen on the face and hands is acceptable.
When looking for sunscreen, pick types that offer UVA and UVB protection and a SPF of 30 or higher. Dr. Patricia Treadwell suggests using a physical sun block made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. "Unlike the stuff of chemical sunscreens that the skin absorbs, which may cause allergic reactions or skin irritation, these ingredients merely sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun's rays. There's no evidence that chemical sunscreens are dangerous or toxic, but we just don't know enough yet about how small children react to the chemicals," she says.