According to national statistics, more babies are born in July, August and September than other months. What’s that mean to you? Well, you can consider yourself lucky if you’re not carrying around a bun in the oven during the summer! It also means that if you have a new baby, you should consider some summer-specific hints to keep your baby (and you) comfortable and safe when it’s hot outside.
1. If you feel hot, chances are so does your baby. Keep the warm temperatures in mind, especially if you’re carrying your baby in a soft front carrier. Remember, the fabric of the carrier is a thick layer of insulation, so dress your baby lightly, in layers, and keep her shoes and socks off. Put her footwear, extra clothing and a receiving blanket in your diaper bag for when you take her out of the carrier or it gets chilly. Aden + anais makes beautiful muslin blankets that double as swaddlers ($35; Target.com)
2. Use sunscreen. You, of course, should always use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. For babies six months and older, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the same and advise that sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours. But for babies younger than six months, what’s a mother to do? The FDA recommends not using any sunscreen on babies younger than six months, but if there is no way to stay away from the sun, try to keep your baby in the shade as much as possible with an umbrella or canopy of a stroller. The AAP and American Cancer Society caution that the sun is harshest between the hours of 10am and 2pm, so limit exposure during those hours, and cover your baby as thoroughly as possible with a hat, UV clothing and sunglasses. Also, the Mayo Clinic advises you to avoid using products that combine sunscreen and the insect repellent DEET, since DEET does not require frequent application.
3. Create shade. One of the best things about using a stroller is that it gives your baby an instant shade cover. Find one with a really big canopy and good cross ventilation. The Combi Lightweight Stroller ($159; diapers.com) has both; so does the Bob Revolution SE Single Jogger Stroller ($370; target.com). Again, be mindful of the temperature and don’t pile on blankets unless you feel your baby needs them.
4. Stay hydrated. Be sure to bring along plenty of fresh, cool water for yourself. If your baby is breastfeeding, he won’t need any extra liquids. But if he’s formula-fed, weaned or an older baby, he’ll need to drink water throughout the day, too. Keep bottles of cool water in the insulated pocket of your diaper bag. Avoid sweet juices (unless they’re highly diluted), and never give your baby soda to drink.
5. Tent away. Portable play tents offer cozy relief from the sun and other elements (think dogs and Frisbees) when you’re at the beach or park. Look for one that is easy to assemble (some literally pop up), and offers protection from UV rays. Schilling makes one that has an SPF rating of 50 ($45; amazon.com). The Kel-Gar Kids Sun Dome is a nice small size, has UV protection and plenty of mesh for ventilation and bug protection, and it’s a great value ($25; Walmart.com).
6. Get out! Studies have shown that getting out in nature – even if it’s just your neighborhood park or backyard– it’s essential to our wellbeing. Take off your shoes and let your baby go barefoot, too; some people believe that just touching the earth or grass with your feet can reduce stress.
7. Chill in the kitchen. Back away from the stove! Have your family participate in no-cook meals: Make salads a complete dinner by topping with avocado and marinated tofu or pre-cooked grilled chicken strips. Have the kids pick out the perfect watermelon for dessert. Teach them how to eat a papaya on sprouted wheat toast for breakfast.
8. The times, they are a changin’. If you can swing it, come home for lunch and take your baby for a quick stroll or even pull a vacation day and spend it hiking with your baby in a front- or backpack; you’ll return to work more energized and calm. If you are a stay at home mom (working or not), what are you waiting for?