Here are a some important things to keep in mind:
- Stay out of the sun. (User suggestion: particularly during the peak hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) Babies under six months should never get direct rays, and older kids should still avoid as much as possible. This means hats (look for one with a flap that covers the neck), sunglasses, an umbrella on the stroller, and lots and lots of shade.
- Watch the sunscreen. Babies under six months of age also shouldn't wear sunscreen — although, if you know you're going to be out on the beach all day, you may want to make an exception. (Give baby a good bath after!) Once baby is old enough, look for sunscreen with inorganic filters (like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide), which may be less irritating to baby’s skin and eyes.
- User suggestion: Buy clothing for baby that will do double duty. Whether you purchase items with built-in UV protection or do it yourself with a dye kit, this can be another great source of sun protection.
- If you have a pool outside, empty it every night — no exceptions. Even the tiniest bit of water can spell serious danger for a baby. And, make sure you or another present adult knows CPR and life-saving techniques when you're around water.
- When you're in or around water, keep baby within arms reach... because no, babies can't swim. For kids under four, swim classes don't count as a way to decrease drowning risk.
- Don't put insect repellent on babies under two months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. After that, check the labels carefully — older kids (and adults!) should never use repellent with more than 30 percent DEET* or picaridin concentration. For reference, Off! Deep woods has a 25 percent DEET concentration. Oil of lemon eucalyptus shouldn't be used on kids under three years. If you pick a natural repellent, look for age restrictions printed on the bottle.
- When you do apply repellent, do so sparingly, and only on exposed skin. Don't put it on hands, areas around the eyes and mouth, or any irritated skin or wounds. If you're spraying, do it outside and away from food. Once you're back inside, use soap and water to wash away the repellent.
- Stay away from areas that attract bugs, including open foods, blooming gardens and stagnant water. And, save the bright, flower-print clothes for an indoor day.
- Having a picnic? Don't let the food sit outside for more than two hours, or if the temp is over 90°F, one hour. Also, try packing the picnic the night before and refrigerating it—this way, it'll stay cold longer once outside.
- Chug the fluids! When it's hot outside, baby needs more breast milk or formula than usual. (Not water, though! This can mess with electrolytes.)
- Look over the playground before you let the little one loose. Metal equipment — especially slides — can really heat up under the sun. And a burned bottom isn't fun for baby or you!
*Pregnant women are temporarily encouraged to use insect repellents with DEET for stronger mosquito protection in light of Zika concerns.