Summer Baby Basics
Sun and Skin
The sun is out, the mercury is rising, and families are packing up their cars and flooding beaches, campgrounds, and parks. Summertime is filled with fun, cookouts, camping, and tons of exciting activities. It is a favorite time of year for young and old—but also one of the most dangerous. To ensure that your baby’s summer is both fun-filled and safe, be sure to abide by these summertime safety rules.
Summer is all about being outside, and that invariably means dealing with heat and sun. During the next couple of months, be sure to watch any child who’s been in the sun and comes home with a sunburn. If you notice dizziness, faintness, or cool, pale, clammy skin—or if your child experiences nausea, fever, and/or chills, seek out medical attention immediately.
The best prevention for sunburn is simply to keep your infant out of the sun. Dr. Vincent Iannelli, MD, says, “It used to be advised that you should not use sunscreen on babies less than six months old, but the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a new policy statement a few years ago stating that sunscreen was probably safe to use on younger children, especially if you just use it on small areas of your baby’s skin that is exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing, such as the infant’s hands and face.”
However, Dr. Iannelli continues, “Younger children should be kept out of direct sunlight because they can burn easily and may not be able to handle getting overheated as well as older children. So even though it is likely safe to use sunscreen on kids less than six months old, it is safer to keep them out of the sun.”
Heat is a killer this time of year, and keeping your baby cool is of utmost importance. During the evening, when temperatures refuse to go down, dress your baby in the bare minimum. Don’t be afraid to let her drift off in just a diaper. Many pediatricians believe that sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is due in part to a child overheating—so clear your baby’s crib of blankets and stuffed animals, or anything that could contribute to her body temperature rising.
Some of summer’s most dangerous problems come from three types of heat-related emergencies:
- Heat cramps: Muscle aches due to loss of salt as the body sweats to regulate temperature.
- Heat exhaustion: The prequel to dehydration.
- Heat stroke: Hot, red, dry skin accompanied by disorientation, irregular breathing, and pulse.
To avoid all three, be sure your baby gets plenty of fluids and seek out cool places when the mercury rises. Breastfeed infants often (but try placing toweling between you and your child to keep both of you cool and dry) and make sure toddlers and older kids drink plenty of water.
You can also give your child a tepid bath (avoid baby powders during the summer, though, as they can contribute to heat rash) or let her play in a small, shallow kiddy pool with adult supervision. Placing a cool, damp cloth on the forehead and one on the back of the neck is another age-old remedy for cooling off your child.
If you run errands with your baby during the summer months, keep in mind that car temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. In 40 minutes, a car becomes a furnace surpassing 140 degrees. Never leave your child unattended in a car—even if it is just for a minute.
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