Keeping your Baby Safe this Summer
Us pediatric nurses spend a lot of time educating parents on keeping their babies safe during winter’s cold and flu season. Although winter is the time for extra precaution for those nasty viruses, summertime brings a whole new set of health concerns to be aware of. Unfortunately, all of these issues are very common at children’s hospitals in the summer. Here are some tips we have for keeping your newborns and babies safe and out of the hospital.
Never leave children alone in or near the water, even for a second! Watch children with care. Take turns watching with other adults to avoid burn out.
Children can drown in as little as 2 INCHES of standing water! It is imperative they are supervised at all times, even in shallow waters.
Young children need to wear life jackets when playing in or near water and while on docks.
It is never too early to teach your baby how to swim. Baby swimming classes are highly recommended to make both parents and baby more comfortable and safe with water and swimming.
Toys and mattresses that inflate will not keep children safe. If you use any inflatable toy or device for your baby to float on, it MUST only be with direct supervision by an adult only.
If you spend time in boats, learn about boating safety. Call 800-336-BOAT to learn more.
Ponds, five-gallon buckets and wading pools are drowning hazards for very young children. Empty water from buckets and wading pools.
Protect your child from too much sun. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be extra careful during that time.
Whenever your child is outside, use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30 at minimum. Choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours and after being in the water or sweating.
Keep children under 1 out of the sun as much as you can. Dress your baby in lightweight, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Always cover their head.
Children under 6 months of age can have small amounts of sunscreen put on their faces and the backs of their hands, but be careful not to get it in their eyes or mouth.
Most of the sun's burning rays go right through clouds, so use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
Select sunglasses for babies and children that provide 100% UV protection.
For infants, direct sun exposure should be avoided. Always stay in the shade.
Overheating and Hydration
Here are a few summer temperature facts every parent should know:
The body temperatures of children can increase three to five times faster than adults.
The Heat Index = the temperature the body feels from the combined effect of heat and humidity. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15° F.
More than 70% of heat stroke deaths occur in children under age 2. Heat stroke can occur when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
A car can reach 110 degrees when temperatures are only in the 60s. More than half of heat stroke deaths occur because a caregiver forgot the child in the car.
Infants are not able to regulate their temperature as well as older children and adults, so it is important to avoid overdressing. Use light fitting clothing and know that your infant will typically need one light layer more than you have on. When in the house, avoid over-bundling as well. During heat waves, stay in a cool air conditioned space. This will help avoid overheating and will keep your baby cool and comfortable.
It is very important to make sure babies are drinking enough, especially on hot days. Children under 6 months should not drink water, so make sure to breastfeed them or give them formula frequently. Keep in mind if you are a nursing mom, you will want to stay hydrated yourself and make sure you are drinking extra water.
Always strap children in a properly fitted car seat, booster seat or seat belt when traveling by car or airplane.
The back seat is the safest place for children to ride. Always make sure to follow your state’s guidelines for child passenger safety.
Children in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in the front seat if it has an air bag.
Check the owner's guide for your child's car seat to make sure it is approved for airplane travel.
Reserve a car seat or booster seat, or bring your own, when renting a car, riding with friends and family, or using a car share service.
Never leave an infant or child in a car unattended, even for one minute! The inside of a car can reach dangerous temperatures very quickly. When traveling with children, always check the back seat to make sure that your little one is out of the car seat. If you want to be cautious, you can put your cell phone or wallet in the back seat as a reminder.
Of course, newborns and infants aren’t the only ones needing safety precautions during the summer. Even more safety hazards come around when your child starts walking! For more information on keeping your toddler and kiddos safe this summer, check out our wonderful sources below.
Summer is so much fun, and we hope these tips help keep your family safe.
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Jeri Ford, RN, BSN, CPN
Thanks so much to our helpful sources!