Summer is finally upon us. It’s time to slow down, relax, and enjoy some family time. Here are a few tips to ensure we stay safe and healthy this season.
- Sunscreen: It can be used on children of all ages. Many sunscreens say ‘not for use in babies under 6 months’, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that it is okay to apply to areas exposed to the sun. I certainly recommend keeping your baby’s skin covered in lightweight clothing and a hat, keeping your baby in the shade, and staying inside during peak sun hours (10:00 am – 2:00 pm), but if you are going to be outside, apply the sunscreen first. For older children, slather it on 20 minutes before going outside (not just before they jump in the pool) and re-apply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Pool Safety: Whether you have an in-ground pool, a small kiddy pool, or a large inflatable above-ground pool, children must ALWAYS be supervised around water. Ideally, a 4 foot self-closing, self-latching gate should surround a pool, even if it’s a portable one. Otherwise, drain the water each day because it’s too enticing for young tots. Practice ‘touch-supervision’ which means that an adult should always be within arms reach of a child in the water.
- Swim Lessons: Many parents ask me when to start their children in swimming lessons. Is it important to enroll them at 6 months so they get used to the water and learn how to blow bubbles? Do lessons help prevent drowning? There is interesting research on this very question and as of now, studies show that children between the ages of 1 and 4 years may have a lower risk of drowning if they have had formal swimming lessons. However this hasn’t been shown to hold for babies younger than one year of age. Bottom line, if you love to be in the water and this is a fun way for you to bond with your infant, then jump on in. And if not, that’s okay too. But, if you do plan to spend a lot of time with your toddler near water, it may be a good idea to check out the local swim classes in your area.
- Insect Bites: Prevention here goes a long way. Dress your little ones in long clothing during the evening hours when the bugs are most likely to be out in full force. Be sure to avoid scented soaps and perfumes. Use insect repellant when needed-look for ones that contain DEET (up to a maximum of 30%) for children 6 months and older. Avoid the combination suncreen and insect repellant products because sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours and DEET only once per day. If your child does get bitten, a cool compress and a mild 1% hydrocortisone for the itch is all that’s needed. If you are concerned the bite looks infected, call your pediatrician.
- Coxsackie Virus: Coxsackie is one of the common summertime viruses. It is also called hand foot and mouth disease. It causes fever, sores on the mouth, and sometimes a rash on the palms and soles. The good news is that it goes away on it’s own and only lasts a few days. A homemade remedy for making the mouth sores feel better is called ‘magic mouth wash’. It’s made by mixing equal parts of liquid Maalox and liquid Benadryl. Apply it to the mouth sores either with a q-tip or a small medicine syringe. It coats and numbs and makes eating and drinking much easier!
Wishing everyone a great summer!!