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Summer Safety Tips for Babies

By Emily Ramirez
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Remember summer as a kid? Glorious warm days, spread out before you with what felt like unlimited promise and popsicles? Summer as an adult has definitely changed – especially if you now have kids of your own and find yourself thinking about things like heat rash, sunscreen ingredients, and pool safety.

As we trade in our snow shovels and sidewalk salt for sunscreen and sidewalk chalk, here are a few summer safety tips for babies to be mindful of.

1. Sun Protection

We may have begged and pleaded for Mister Golden Sun to shine down on us, but the reality is you’re going to want to limit their direct exposure, ‘cause DAYUM he’s burning bright these days.

Tips to stay safe:

  • Dress your baby in light-weight, long-sleeved, sun-protective clothing.
  • Use a hat and sunglasses to protect their head and face.
  • If they’re older than 6 months, use sunscreen or sunblock over SPF15, and UVA/UVB protective (more on that in our Sun Safety post).
  • If they’re younger than 6 months, try to use shade or protective clothing, but if you’re in a pinch, a bit of sunscreen is better than a burn.

What to avoid:

  • Direct sun. (You’re a smart cookie so I’m not going to explain that it’s fine to walk from your house to the car, but not okay lollygag and meander like a toddler. You get it.) Oh, and don’t forget to put sunscreen on your own body – especially the back of the neck (she types, with a sunburn on the back of her neck). Using your own body as a sunshade seems like a good idea until you do it and cry in the shower.

2. Stay Cool

Unlike that crevasse between your jugs, babies can’t sweat effectively, which makes them less capable of cooling off once hot weather sets in. A baby that overheats is at risk of developing hyperthermia and/or heat exhaustion, which can be life-threatening if not caught in time.

Tips to stay safe:

  • Take advantage of that 5:15am wake-up call, and get outdoors before the heat of the day.
  • Increase their fluid intake (milk or formula only for babies under 6 months), and be sure to increase your own fluids if you’re nursing.
  • Hang out somewhere that’s air-conditioned. Think libraries, bookstores, malls, and oh I don’t know, Target probably has a/c, but I’m just guessing here.

What to avoid:

  • Never leave your baby alone in the car. Even with the windows cracked. Even if you’re standing near-by while they nap. It’s not safe, even in moderate temperatures. And as far as leaving your baby in the car on accident, take precautions and minimize that risk as much as possible. More on that in our post – “Anyone (Even You) Could Forget A Kid in a Hot Car: Here's Why”
  • Skip blankets over your stroller as a way to keep the sun off your baby. Without proper ventilation, the inside of the stroller can reach dangerously high temperatures, even with something as light as a muslin swaddle if there isn’t proper air flow. Instead, use something designed to provide shade safely, like this.
  • That great infant car seat cover that you loved during the windy winter months might be trapping heat in during the summer months so keep an eye on the air flow.

3. Watch for Water

The sad reality is that even a small amount of water can be deadly in a remarkably short period of time.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children, with the highest number of deaths occurring in kids aged 1-4. It is silent, quick, and hard to recognize to the untrained eye (this is a great read about what it actually looks like). It also doesn’t have to occur in a pool or large body of water. Buckets, bathtubs, and even landscape features need to be considered when talking about water safety.

Tips to stay safe

  • Be hypervigilant. What this looks like in your family will depend on your exposure. Pool safety will look different than ocean or bathtub safety, but the baseline rule should be zero water exposure without eyes or hands-on contact.
  • Establish who is watching who before heading into the water.
  • Baby proof your space so doors and gates get locked, preventing unsupervised access to water.
  • Get and use a life jacket.
  • Be serious about monitoring bath time.

What to avoid:

  • Unsupervised water time. Acknowledge that terrible things happen in a blink of an eye (this one has a happy ending but explains just how quickly it can happen), and make a plan about how you are going to prevent it.

4. Prevent Dangerous Falls

Warm weather means open windows and patio playdates. With 15,000 kids ending up in the ER annually from falls, this risk is worth ruling out if you have young kids in the house.

Tips to stay safe:

  • Never put a crib next to a window.
  • Keep furniture and toys that would allow access to a window, or rail of a patio or balcony away.
  • Install window locks or guards. Screens will not keep a child from falling.
  • While we’re on the topic of window safety, keep those pull cords out of reach.

What do avoid:

  • Open windows that can be reached by a curious baby or toddler.
  • Patios or balconies with furniture or toys near the edge.

5. Watch for Certain Foods

Many summer foods are delicious but also register high on the choking hazard list. For babies who are getting used to solid food, it’s worth putting a little extra time into prepping them in a way that minimizes the risk. You can read up on it in our post Surprising (and Not so Surprising) Choking Hazards for Babies.

Tips to stay safe:

  • Cut trachea-sized foods like hotdogs and grapes lengthwise.
  • Avoid the peanuts and popcorn at baby’s first baseball game.
  • Lay off the marshmallows.
  • Familiarize yourself with CPR. Better to know and not use it than not know and need it.
  • Watch your kid around things that tend show up more in the summer, like water bottle caps, and broken water balloons.

What to avoid:

  • Whole foods or objects that are the perfect size to block a tiny little trachea.

Yes, this list is a big old bag of bummer with a side of sad sauce.

But it’s worth being a Debbie Downer every once in a while if it prevents a tragedy. Any summer safety tips for babies we missed? Drop ’em in the comments!

Our next reco: The Ultimate Baby Sun Protection Guide

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