I'm not really sure why people refer to summer as the "lazy days." Although I may be at the pool with my kids, traveling for "vacation," or spending time outside in the humid jungle of heat, nothing about summer allows me to be lazy. Honestly, summer's the most stressful season of the year. To add to that stress are things you do every day in the summer that aren't safe for your baby and probably didn't even realize may be an issue until you stumble across an article online at 2 a.m.
Although it might seem overwhelming to think of the little things parents do every day that may not be safe, you should take comfort in knowing many of them are easy fixes or potentially things you've already heard about on the latest summer segment of your local news. Either way, there's no reason to be too alarmed, but do take note if you find yourself in some of these situations on a day to day basis.
When it comes to a hot summer in the sun, it's best to reduce stress and err on the side of caution with a baby in tow. So look through the items listed out below, and if need be, adjust accordingly to help cutdown on this season's chaos.
1. Cover Your Stroller Or Carrier
It may seem logical to cover up your stroller or carrier to keep the sun away from your little one, but it can actually cause your baby to overheat or increase SIDS risks. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson told the website for The Today Show that a greenhouse effect in an enclosed space could occur, even if you're using breathable materials or fabrics. Especially on scorching hot days, utilize an umbrella or sunscreen (if your baby's old enough) instead of keeping your baby covered.
2. Play In The Sand
Whether you have a sandbox in your backyard or live near a beach, letting your baby crawl around or walk in the sand barefoot can burn their skin and even irritate their mouth and eyes when it becomes airborne, according to Parenting. So when it's extra hot, make sure your baby keeps their shoes on, has skin coverage if they're crawling in the sand, and keeps hands away from their face after playing in it.
3. Head To The Park
Although the park can be a great relief on an average or mildly hot day, the aforementioned Parenting article noted that some equipment can quickly overheat and burn a baby's skin on an extra hot day. If you notice a playground has a lot of metal or plastic equipment, do a touch test before placing your baby in the swing or helping them down the slide. You may even want to bring some water along to pour and cool down hot surfaces.
4. Wear Fragrances Or Floral-Patterned Clothes
This one may seem a little out there, but if you're extra concerned with bee stings or want to play it safe to avoid them, the previously shared Parents article suggested avoiding fragrances and floral patterns. This is because bees are drawn to flowers, and either of those two things may make you or your baby more susceptible to attracting bees and bee stings.
5. Use Products With DEET
It's safe to say the mosquitos, ticks, and other bugs are bad enough during summer that parents generally apply bug spray to their kids heading outside. Did you know, however, that products with DEET (an ingredient in many bug sprays) are not actually safe for babies under a certain age? According to the previously mentioned Parenting article, DEET isn't safe for babies under 2 months, and only products with a DEET concentration under 30 percent are safe for babies over 2 months old. DEET is often listed as N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or diethyltoluamide on an ingredient list.
6. Go Out In The Sun
Vitamin D is great for those who are older, but according to Care.com, it's vital to keep infants out of direct sunlight at all times. (To clarify, that means babies under 6 months old.) According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an infant's skin is especially susceptible to the sun's damaging effects because it possesses very little melanin (the pigment that gives color to skin). It's also a good idea to use removable mesh window shields or get UV window film to keep the sun from directly hitting your baby in the vehicle.
7. Stay In The Shade
If you're not supposed to be in direct sunlight, shade may seem like the obvious answer for your baby. According to the aforementioned Care.com article though, shade offers a false sense of security about UVR protection. Although it may provide some relief from heat, sunburn is still possible in the shade. In just under an hour, a fair-skinned adult could sunburn sitting in the shade.
8. Use Sunscreen
When you are in the sun, you're probably slathering on the sunscreen. You may not realize, however, that babies under 6 months old shouldn't use sunscreen, according to the aforementioned Skin Cancer Foundation article. This is because their skin is too sensitive. It's also a good idea to be aware of holding your baby while sweating and wearing sunscreen, as their skin may be sensitive to the sunscreen on yours. You might want to consider a light barrier between their skin and yours, whether that be clothing, a blanket, or even a breathable towel.
Additionally, if your baby is old enough for sunscreen, apply it 30 minutes before going outside and every two hours after that.
9. Get In Water
Although going for a swim is in no way harmful, when you're submerging a body in water for long periods of time daily it can actually start to be bad for the skin. According to The Washington Post, babies are born with a natural skin protectant which is also full of immune properties. Because baby skin is delicate, submerging it in water daily (baths, pools, and especially chlorine) can dry it out, cause eczema or create rough, itchy patches of skin. Additionally, Pediatrician Dr. David Geller told The Washington Post that a swim in a pool or lake counts as a bath. So, unless visibly dirty or stinky, wiping with a wet cloth around the neck and diaper area should be sufficient to keep your baby clean. Especially if you're swimming often, this way you can avoid a daily bath and potential skin issues for your little one.