When it comes to parenting, we try to keep our kids as safe as possible, especially as babies. Not only does that mean making sure they don’t crawl up the stairs or bump their head on the coffee table, but also taking precautions in the summer heat. Between the sun, bugs, and chances of overheating, taking a baby outside safely can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve got you covered.
Watch the heat index
Whether new to parenting or a pro, you know that summer heat can be a lot for a little one. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that babies and toddlers shouldn’t head outside for prolonged periods of time if the heat index is at 90 or above. When it becomes that hot, the chances for overheating or dehydration substantially increase.
Avoid going outside during peak heat hours, which occur during the middle of the day. It’s best to time outings with a baby to catch those fresh breezes in the morning, before 10 a.m., and the nice coolness of the evening, after 6 p.m. Exercise caution between 1 and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its highest point, and it’s HOT. If there isn’t an option to stay inside, such as big sister’s soccer game or a birthday party at the park, it’s essential to find some shade.
Offer plenty of fluids
If your baby is under 6 months of age, no need to bring water into the mix. Just offer plenty of breastmilk or formula to quench their thirst. Babies 6 months of age or older can have tiny sips of water to help them stay hydrated. Don’t forget to bring your own water, too! If you feel uncomfortably hot and sweaty or you need to transition into cool, indoor air, chances are your baby does, too. Always follow your gut.
Babies feel the temperature the same as we do. Even though a newborn looks tiny and fragile, they can still overheat. To avoid overdressing your child, take some extra light clothing with you or even a light blanket to have on hand just in case. A light-colored, short-sleeved onesie might be the best baby outfit in summertime. Pair this with an adorable light-colored, breathable, and brimmed sun hat, and you are ready to go.
It isn’t always easy to sunscreen a slippery baby or toddler, but sun protection is incredibly important for our kids’ health, even on cloudy days. Always apply a small amount of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 to your baby’s nose, cheeks and ears. If you can, try to use sun-protective clothing to avoid the sunscreen dance. Reapply sunscreen every 30 minutes while out, especially if children are playing in water or sweating heavily. For a list of baby-friendly and non-toxic sunscreens, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide.
Bugs be gone
If you love to camp, often head into wooded areas or live on a rural property, you run into a lot of bugs come mid-summer. Bugs aren’t usually dangerous for babies but, sometimes they’re a outright nuisance. And it’s important to protect your baby from ticks, which are dense in wooded areas and high grasses. Check your baby’s clothing and body thoroughly after being outdoors. For annoying bugs, such as mosquitos, a bug net over an outdoor playpen provides some relief. Bug sprays gentle enough for the whole family can be found in most drug stores.
Know the symptoms of overheating
No matter what precautions you take, your child can still overheat when playing outdoors during summer. Look for the following indicators to keep your baby safe from the threat of heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- Warm to the touch
- Reddened skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Acting tired or unresponsive
- Seems dizzy or confused
Enjoying the outdoors as a family is a great way to bond and experience nature this summer. By taking proper precautions, you can assure everyone safely falls in love with this season.