As the weather warms up, we’re all excited to head outdoors for some fun in the sun. Fresh air, the sights and sounds of nature and new activities are all great for babies. But outdoor safety must be an important part of your plans this spring and summer. Along with all of the enjoyment of the season comes a few dangers that every parent should keep in mind. Today we’re discussing outdoor safety and precautions for babies while playing outside.
Babies should avoid sun exposure until at least 6 months old. That doesn’t mean your baby can never go outside, but he should remain in the shade as much as possible. Be sure to find covered areas at the park and playground and bring an umbrella or tent to the beach. Always dress your baby in sun-protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat to cover his face and neck. Babies over two months old should wear a baby-specific sunscreen of SPF 30 to 50. These formulas are gentler for a baby’s skin. Remember to reapply every 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Beyond sunburn, heat stroke and rashes can occur in hot weather as babies and toddlers are not able to regulate their own body temperature like adults. This makes it even more important to avoid the prime hours of direct sun (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and to remain in the shade as much as possible. Ensure your baby is well-hydrated by breastfeeding before, during and after periods of time outdoors. If your baby does show signs of over-heating, remove him from the sun immediately, remove his clothes and sponge him down with cool water. Rashes occur when sweat glands are blocked causing bumps to pop up in moist folds of skin. A cold bath with cornstarch powder usually relieves rashes quickly. Call your doctor if heat stroke or rashes do not clear up rapidly or if your child’s fever is extremely high.
Babies and toddlers are highly attracted to water. Many of them have not developed a sense of caution around water yet and their fearlessness can be a big problem. Parents should be extremely vigilant of their babies around water. If you have a particularly rambunctious child, require him to wear a floating safety vest that buckles at the chest and around the legs. If you own a pool, make sure it is gated and locked at all times.
You know your child best but usually children up to three years old should be shadowed by an adult on the playground. Check the safety of playground equipment before your child starts to use it to ensure it is not too hot, it is stable and it is age-appropriate for your child. Playgrounds are a great place to challenge your baby’s physical abilities, but within reason. Abide by the age guidelines marked on the equipment. Also look out for older children who may play too rough around your little one. Never take your eyes off your baby on the playground as accidents can happen in an instant. It’s a good idea to find playgrounds with soft turfs for these early years of playing outdoors.
Bites and Stings
Not only are bites annoying to babies and toddlers, they can be dangerous too as many mosquitoes, flies and other insects carry disease. Babies over 2 months can wear a low DEET insect repellent to avoid bites. Treat bites topically to reduce painfulness and further irritation from itching. If bites look unusual, see the pediatrician immediately. Remove bee stingers by scraping the area with a credit card until you are able to push it out in the direction it came.
With these precautions and awareness for outdoor safety, you and your little ones can enjoy a season full of fun outside. Happy Spring!
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