The weather is gorgeous, but you’ve got a new baby. Going outside helps your baby and your physical and mental health, helps bodies create Vitamin D for strong bones and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. But you still wonder – Is it safe to bring your baby outdoors? What should you watch for? What kinds of precautions should you take?
Bay Street Pediatrics is here to help you and your baby spend at least an hour outside every day to gain these important health benefits, while staying safe from summer hazards.
Babies and the Heat & Sun
Children, especially babies, process warm temperatures differently than adults, but they don’t need bundling in warm weather. In fact, that can be dangerous. Take these precautions to protect your baby from summer heat and sunlight:
- Avoid being outside between the hours of 10am and 4pm , when the sun is most intense
- Avoid going outside when the heat index is above 90°F
- Play in the shade as much as possible, keeping your baby under six months of age out of direct sunlight.
- Dress your baby in cotton, lightweight clothes that cover as much of their skin as possible. Use lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants, as well as brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect their eyes and face.
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects your child from both UVA and UVB rays:
- infants Under Six Months of Age: Use only on small areas of the body, using mostly clothing and shade to protect your baby.
- Babies Over Six Months of Age: Sunscreen can be applied to all areas of the body.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after any water play. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure to work properly, so apply before you leave the house.
- Remember to take breaks from the heat and cool off indoors periodically throughout the day
Babies and Fluids
When outdoors in summer, everyone should drink more water to ensure that bodies are getting enough fluids to avoid dehydration. Your baby cannot tell you when they are thirsty, so be sure your baby is keeping to their usual schedule and amount of breast milk or formula, producing at least six wet diapers a day. If your baby is wetting fewer diapers than that and has symptoms of weakness or fatigue, it could be mild dehydration.
Do not give babies under the age of six months old water to drink, but encourage your baby to breast or bottle feed. If you suspect your baby has mild dehydration, call our office to discuss offering an electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte.
Severe dehydration will also show weakness, fatigue, tearless crying, sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, discolored feet and hands, and an extremely fussy and tired mood. If you see these symptoms, your baby may need emergency care to have fluids administered through an IV and monitoring for serious side effects. Call us emergently if you see these symptoms.
Babies and Outings & Field Trips
When taking your baby out, practice the safe summer guidelines we’ve just discussed but there are other summer hazards as well. Babies who are still in the process of being fully vaccinated are still building their immune systems, so you should be cautious when going out, especially in light of the recent increase of COVID cases across the US. When going on an outing with your baby, be prepared with alcohol-free disinfectant wipes to clean dropped toys, pacifiers, and surfaces that your baby may touch with their hands – because hands go right into mouths! Be kindly assertive when telling strangers not to come to close or touch your baby, especially unfamiliar toddlers and children. Remember to avoid public indoor spaces and keep a safe distance due to COVID.
Use mosquito netting over strollers, play cribs or car seats to prevent insect bites. Use an insect repellent containing picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, reapplying every two hours, for babies under 2 months of age. Repellents containing no more than 30% DEET can be used on older babies, applying to exposed clothing if possible and not exposed skin unless necessary.
NEVER leave your baby or child alone in the car, whether it’s running or turned off.
When the outside temperature is 80˚or higher, the temperature in your parked car can soar up to 170˚ in just minutes, even in the shade.
When you plan ahead before you bring your baby outside, you can help keep summer fun and at the same time prevent sunburn, insect bites and illness! If you have any questions about your baby’s summer outings, call our office at 203-227-3674. We’ll be happy to help!