Now that you're parents, will summer be all music classes and stroller boot camps? That stuff's fine and dandy, but there's no need to cut out your usual grown-up fun. "You can essentially do everything that was in your prebaby life," says parenting expert Tammy Gold, founder of Gold Parent Coaching (and Bump expert!). "You just have to prepare." Read on for some great summer tips from Gold and other real-life moms.
For long treks with baby, timing is key. "If you can get them in their pj's and do a big chunk of the trip while they sleep, that would be perfect," says Gold. If baby is snoozing, she's not bored and screaming. Otherwise, focus on comfort to keep the peace. Gold recommends dressing baby in loose cotton clothing, using socks and a light blanket as layers. No matter what time of day, put baby in an overnight diaper loaded up with the creams and powders that you'd use for bedtime. (Rashes and leaks are the enemy.) On that note, bring more than you think you'll need. More diapers, wipes, creams, pacis, food...and by all means, more toys. Distractions are golden. And if baby gets into a crying fit and nothing seems to help? "Try pulling over and burping her," says Gold. "Chances are it's trapped gas from the bumps on the road."
When taking baby into the wild (or the local campground), arm yourself with plenty of snacks, formula, and water; a first-aid kit; bug protection; and a big blanket to spread on the ground (aka a barrier between baby and the billions of things he could stick in his mouth). "There wasn't much of an adjustment to camping with baby; we just have extra stuff to pack," says mrsmikey. One of her must-haves: a canopy. "Having shade has gone from being a luxury to a necessity." If hiking is on the agenda, bring a good baby carrier (look for one with a supportive metal frame for long hikes) or an all-terrain stroller, like the BOB Sport Utility Stroller ($299 at REI.com). Gold also recommends mapping out the nearest medical facility before you set off and putting a plan in place for emergencies.
Family outing to the beach? Again, pack plenty of baby-care goodies, including sun protection. "Put sunblock on baby a half an hour BEFORE you'll be in the sun," says Gold. "This is virgin skin. It will fry in 15 minutes." In fact, it's best to keep a small baby's skin under cover with breathable, long-sleeved clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and even teeny sunglasses. Shy away from the hottest times of day; hit the beach in the early morning or late afternoon. (This leaves a nice gap for lunch and naptime, anyway.) If baby takes a dip, Gold insists on super-quick changes. "Don't let them sit in their wet suits," she says. "They'll get yeast infections." And when it's time to head home and there's sand in every crevice? Gold swears by baby powder or cornstarch to get rid of the stuff. "Sprinkle it on and the sand will be totally taken away."
It isn't safe for infants to come aboard (life vests don't even fit babies under 18 pounds). But for bigger babes, just pay special attention to safety. Make sure the captain isn't drinking, request a smooth ride (the back of the boat tends to bounce the least), and keep yourself and baby in life vests at all times. Try the vest in a swimming pool first so you know it works before you're out in open water. It should keep baby's face above water and facing the sky. Also, never bring an infant seat on a boat (they don't float) and always do a baby hand-off before climbing on or off — whoever is holding baby should have super-steady footing. One non-safety note: Remember that tiny hands will be tugging on your swimsuit, so wear one that stays in place!
"Festivals are great as long as they're not too loud," says Gold. Just steer clear of big speakers (and drunk crazies). "We found that it helps to look for other people hanging out in the back with kids and sit near them," says CleoKitty. Even the smallest tots can help entertain each other. (They probably won't be enthralled by the band for quite as long as you.) And do you have to skip the fun if it's a nighttime gig? Nah. "You just have to know your baby," Gold says. "If it's a 9 p.m. festival and baby can sleep outside in the car seat, great. Dress them in their pajamas." (If baby isn’t great at sleeping in an infant seat or stroller, though, it may be best to stick to afternoon festivities.)
The same basic rules apply to nearly any sort of summer fun: Stay safe, keep cool, and pack extras of everything you’d need. Oh, and don't forget the camera!
— Erin van Vuuren