Now that summer weather is upon us, I’m pretty much ready for fall. I suppose we shouldn’t complain — and by we, I mean those of us who have been waiting impatiently (and perhaps obnoxiously) for sunshine and flip flops — but once a humid Hudson Valley summer wraps its clammy arms around you, you can’t help but cry “uncle.” Though I’m not sporting a big ol’ belly this year, I’ve got an even bigger appendage to contend with: a squirmy, 19-pound, almost one year old. There have been a few nights here where I am reminded of our first weeks together, practically shellacked to the bed by perspiration, tears, and breast milk. And the daytime is more or less the same.
It’s hard to know what the best thing to do is when it’s 90 degrees and sunny outside: You want to keep baby out of the sun, but short of hiding away indoors all summer, exposure is unavoidable. So how do you keep them safe and comfortable?
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but babies’ skin is very delicate and should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Bring an umbrella or tent with you to the beach, and try to spread out in the shade at the park or in the yard.
The AAP does not recommend the use of sunscreen at all on babies under six months of age. When we were in Hawaii and Coraline was three months old, this meant she remained under an umbrella in the shade or in the wrap, and wore a rash guard and wide brimmed UV sunhat in the pool.
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If you must, past six months of age, try using a chemical-free sunscreen, like the unscented, PABA-free, SPF 30 one from California Baby. In addition to being gentle on delicate skin (it won’t burn if it gets in the eyes) every strange ingredient is explained on the tube, so you know exactly what you’re putting on your baby.
Hydration, hydration, hydration! This should be a priority for everyone in the family. If you haven’t already purchased a stainless steel water bottle (like Sigg) you may want to do so now — the chemicals in plastic leech out when heated, and so that Nalgene you left in the backseat for 15 minutes while you ran in the store may not be as clean as you think. And Thermos now makes the Foogo, a stainless steel sippy cup that, in addition to being safer, also keeps its contents cold for up to six hours.
Parenting Magazine just ran a scary piece on the danger of forgetting small children in parked cars when temperatures are high. It can take as little as 15 minutes for a child to die from hyperthermia in a car on a 75-degree day. It’s recommended you make a habit of checking the backseat before you lock the car, in case your sleeping baby slips your mind en route. Seems like common sense, but statistics say that over 30 babies a year die under such circumstances.
Clearly a sun hat is a good idea. Unfortunately, if your baby is anything like Coraline, they will rip that hat off their head every time you put it on. Look for hats that snap or tie under the chin to avoid a game of “How many times can Mommy pick the hat up off the ground before she loses her mind?”
While I am a huge proponent of baby-wearing, I think strollers win when it’s super hot. Even if your baby isn’t a stroller fan in general, give it a shot next time it’s 90 and you’re going for a walk — the extra breathing room will likely be more comfortable for both of you.