Summer is the time for splashing in the pool, feeling the cool grass blades between your toes, and playing outside. If you’re introducing your baby to her first summer, you’ll want to keep her happy, but safe. Make sure that you follow these five tips for the safest summer adventures with your baby.
1. Slather on the Sunscreen
It’s not just older kids that you have to worry about; babies can get sunburned, too. And if your baby does get burned, it’s no fun for you. (Crying, uncomfortable babies are no walks in the park!) There’s another reason you’ll want to prevent sunburn in your baby – one bad sunburn in infancy can increase your child’s risk for a deadly skin cancer called malignant melanoma by 50 percent!
You can prevent your baby from getting burned from the sun by slathering on sunscreen. Sunblock (SPF 15 or higher) that is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide is considered safe for babies over 6 months. (Use sparingly on infants younger than 6 months. It’s best to keep younger babies out of sun if possible.)
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide doesn’t absorb into your baby’s skin; it sits on top of the skin and forms a barrier against UV rays. Make sure that you don’t rub it in completely; the white residue has protective qualities.
Since it can be difficult to tell the difference between sunscreens (which uses chemicals that are absorbed into the bloodstream) and sunblock (which acts as a barrier between your skin and the sun), make sure that you read the ingredients list. Sunblock is often the better choice for babies, since most parents don’t like the idea of chemicals getting absorbed into your baby’s bloodstream.
2. Protective Clothing and Baby Hats
Give your baby extra protection from the sunlight by dressing her in protective clothing. In the summertime, dress your baby in lightweight clothing that’s light colored. Dark colors absorb heat, and will make your baby hot and sweaty. Light colors will reflect heat and keep her more comfortable.
Choose fabrics that have tight weaves, since this protects your baby’s skin even more. (To find out if your baby’s outfit is tightly woven or loosely woven, hold it up to the light and if you can see light coming through, it’s a loose weave.) You can also find baby swimsuits and baby T-shirts that are made specifically to protect your baby from sun exposure. These special baby clothes can be expensive, but they might be worth the price, especially if your baby be out in the sunlight often.
Baby hats are a must-have. It doesn’t matter if your baby only has a few wisps of hair or an entire head of hair. You must protect your baby’s head from harmful UV rays. Make sure that your baby wears a hat with a wide brim to shade her delicate face. Try to find a baby hat with a wide brim that protects both her ears and face.
Sunglasses will also protect your baby’s eyes from the sunlight. Not only are baby sunglasses adorable, but they’re also protective. (Unfortunately, some babies just will refuse to wear them!)
3. Don’t Let Baby Eat Plants
Sometimes babies are like dogs – they will try to nibble and taste grass and plants around them. You can’t blame them. They’re curious about the world, and if they’ve never seen grass before, they might think, “Hey, this feels good on my feet. Maybe it will taste good, too!”
Make sure that you watch your baby carefully when she’s outside. You don’t want her to accidentally eat anything poisonous. Although it’s rare for a baby to have serious complications from ingesting plants, over 55 percent of plant poisonings in the United States involve children under 1 year old.
Poisonous plants can grow in your backyard. For example, azaleas, daffodil bulbs, lily of the valley, foxgloves, wisteria, tansy, oleander, and hydrangeas are all poisonous.
If you find that your baby has nibbled or eaten a plant, take a photo of it and contact Poison Control.
4. Be Aware of Water
Water may seem harmless, since we drink water to stay hydrated and we use water to bathe. But water can be dangerous to a baby. Infants can easily drown in just a few inches of water. Make sure that you’re always nearby when your baby is near swimming pools, kiddie pools, buckets filled with water, fountains, and etc.
Drowning is silent and very quick. Little babies rarely make a big slash or scream. If your baby’s head falls into a tub of water, she can easily drown within a minute. A child who is underwater for four to six minutes can suffer irreversible brain damage.
So, the bottom line – Be vigilant and watch your children when they are near water.
5. Always Be Prepared for an Emergency
It’s also helpful if you know infant CPR. You may consider taking an infant or child CPR class at the local Red Cross to help you prepare for an emergency.
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