We’ve gotten the house and the car ready for the arrival of our newborns! After your little one arrives, you’ll be spending a lot of time together and in the warm summer months, that means spending time outdoors! Sun and water can be especially dangerous for babies and toddlers. Follow these expert tips to ensure the time you spend with your little one in the sun and around water is safe.
Swim Safety Tips
Keeping your child safe near the pool, ocean, or any other body of water can be a matter of life and death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1–14 years.
Parents.com recommends the following tips to keep babies safe based on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Stay near. "Always be close enough to lay a hand on your child," explains Jeffrey Weiss, M.D., lead author of the AAP's latest policy statement on drowning prevention. Keep him within arm's reach when near water. Babies can drown in very little water, so be vigilant.
- Beware inflatable pools. It's easy for a tot to lean over and tumble headfirst into these soft-sided water spots. Supervise carefully, empty smaller pools after use, and fence off large dunking pools.
- Hit the books. Parents should have CPR and basic water-safety training, advises Connie Harvey, manager of aquatics technical development at the American Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services. Get trained through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.
- Skip the floaties. Both the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against air-filled swim aids. They give a false sense of security and can easily be punctured or deflate.
- Fence it in. Make sure your home swimming pool is surrounded by four-sided fencing that is at least 4 feet high and a childproof gate, Dr. Weiss says.
- Hold off on lessons until 12 months. The AAP does not recommend formal water safety programs for children younger than 1 year of age.
Following these steps and making sure your village knows too, will help keep your little ones safe.
Sun Safety Tips
Starting safe sun habits at a young age will help children maintain them as they grow. If you protect your child’s skin from the sun’s rays, you’ll help decrease the likelihood of them developing skin cancer as they get older.
The CDC recommends these tips:
- Seek shade. UV rays are strongest and most harmful during midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities then. If this is not possible, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, or a pop-up tent. Use these options to prevent sunburn, not to seek relief after it’s happened.
- Cover up. When possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can provide protection from UV rays. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. A wet T-shirt offers much less UV protection than a dry one, and darker colors may offer more protection than lighter colors. Some clothing certified under international standards comes with information on its ultraviolet protection factor.
- Get a hat. Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection.
- Wear sunglasses. They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.
- Apply sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every time your child goes outside. For the best protection, apply sunscreen generously 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
Remember, the best way to enjoy the sun is to do it safely!