Sun and Water Safety for Babies
Babies enjoy playing outside and cooling off in the water as much as the rest of us do, especially during the hot summer months. But trips to the park, the beach or the pool can be nerve-wracking for moms; babies’ thin, sensitive skin is extra vulnerable to sun damage and burns, and water presents obvious safety hazards for anyone small. The solution? Work these simple precautions into your regular routine to keep your summer-lovin’ baby safe and happy.
Timing Is Everything
The sun is most intense — translation: dangerous — during the middle of the day, or between the hours of 11 AM to 3 PM (also known as: nap time!). Plan your outdoor excursions for morning and evening times instead, and you’ll reduce your little one’s likelihood of overexposure to the sun’s harmful rays.
Cover Up with Clothing
It may be tempting to dress your baby in sleeveless numbers — or, hey, nothing at all — when air temperatures rise, but light, loose-fitting clothing that covers her skin is a better bet. Choose long-sleeved shirts and pants made from tight-weave cotton or linen, which will breathe without letting your baby burn.
Use (UV) Protection
Apply a natural, gentle, high-SPF (45 or 50 is good!) sunblock to your baby’s face, and any other exposed areas, about 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside. This is a good tip to apply to yourself — so to speak — as well, to stave off wrinkles, and more scary skin problems, later.
Incognito Is In
Deck your munchkin out in a hat with a brim — some baby hats are even designed with ear- and neck-protecting flaps — and UVA-protective shades; his eyes and scalp will appreciate it. Who says the undercover agent look can’t also be impossibly adorable?
Aim for Shade
Choose shady locations when settling down for extended picnics or play. You’ll stay cooler out of the direct sun. If you’re going to the beach, or other shade-less areas, don’t forget a portable umbrella. Park your little one under its shadow with a bucket and a shovel, and — voila! Instant (and safe) outdoor entertainment.
Full body, wetsuit-style swimsuits made from UVA-repellant materials are great for kids and babies alike; they keep delicate skin covered up while little ones splash around. If you prefer regular swim duds, simply bring the above-listed sun safety rules with you into the pool: sunblock, shade, a hat and careful timing will help prevent baby’s skin from burning.
Babies and toddlers can drown in less than one inch of water. Never, ever take your eyes off of your baby when she’s playing in, or near, water — even if she’s in a shallow kiddie pool, or sitting several feet from the shore.
Childproof Your Pool
If you have a kiddie pool, empty it immediately after use, and store it upside down. This will prevent even the possibility of an accident. For large, in- or above-ground pools at home, make sure you block their entrance with an enclosed, locked gate at all times. You can even put an alarm on the gate so you’ll be aware if it’s opened without supervision.
Sign Up for Swim Lessons
Signing your little tadpole up for swim lessons (which you’ll be actively involved in, FYI) is a fun way to spend time together in the water; it’ll also help you, and your baby, become more comfortable splashing around together. Keep in mind, though, that your baby won’t learn how to swim solo during these lessons; she’ll still require full, constant supervision when in the water.
Know Your Life-Saving Stuff
Get certified in infant CPR so you’ll be prepared in the case of an emergency. Chances are you won’t need it, but it can be a lifesaver if you do. Check in with your local Red Cross for class schedules, and sign yourself on up.