Keeping Baby Safe in the Sun
KEEPING BABY (AND YOURSELF!) SAFE IN THE SUN
Longer days and stronger sun can only mean one thing – summer has arrived! While many revel in the summer sun, it can also be challenging for parents to know how to navigate the dangers of heat and too much sun exposure with their little ones.
The sun can be incredibly strong throughout the summer months, reaching values of 9-10 on the UV index (EPA), which makes it very important to be prepared for any outdoor activity. Here are some tips for keeping baby and yourself safe this summer:
Dress in layers: A slight chill in the morning can quickly turn into sweltering heat in the late morning. Since babies’ self-cooling systems are still developing, be sure to dress them in layers and be ready to peel off an outer layer when it starts getting warm.
Shade: Most strollers and car seats come with retractable sun shades that keep babies cool and comfortable. If your shade doesn’t extend too far, keep a light blanket on hand to protect babies’ legs and toes from the sun. It’s also a good idea to put a shade on the car window that blocks additional UV rays that permeate through the glass.
Sunscreen: It is generally recommended to keep babies under the age of six months out of the sun (FDA). If they do need to be in the sun, a large-brimmed hat can be great for shielding the rays. Babies over the age of six months can have sunscreen, but look for sensitive skin and/or baby-specific sunscreens to avoid skin reactions.
Offer fluids: Most babies rely solely on liquids – breastmilk or formula – for hunger and thirst until about six months. In the summer months, be sure to offer your baby fluids more regularly to ensure she stays well-hydrated. (No water should be offered to babies under six months.)
Hydrate: For baby to stay hydrated, you need to stay hydrated too, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Water consumption is essential during the summer months to replenish lost fluids and stay cool. Keep a water bottle in your diaper bag to ensure water is always at your side.
Use sunscreen: While you’re worrying about your baby getting too much sun exposure, it’s easy to neglect sunscreen for yourself. To make it easier, find a moisturizer or foundation with SPF that you can apply in the morning and forget about. (Just don’t forget to reapply if you’ll be outside for a long time!)
Cover up: Sunscreen is great for protecting your skin, but don’t forget about those shades for your eyes, too. Over time, sun can be harmful for eye health (National Eye Institute) so it’s important to find sunglasses that shield 99-100% of UV rays.
Portable fan: Those triple H days (hazy, hot, humid) can be tough to handle. If you must be outside on those days, get a handheld portable fan to stow in your diaper bag. A little gadget like this can provide much-needed relief for you and your baby during those heat waves.
Take it easy: When you have a newborn, it can be a welcome change of pace to get outside and walk around. But on a super-hot day, a walk could lead to more harm than good when you find yourself two miles away from home. Take it easy and pay attention to the weather to ensure that you and baby are both safe and comfortable.
Summer is a great time to be out and about with your baby! Just a little extra planning and prep is needed to keep everyone comfortable during those dog days of summer.