Infant Summer Safety Tips
The summer months are the perfect time to enjoy your new baby. As the temperatures climb, you can look forward to some fun in the sun with your little one. But before you start planning fun activities, it’s important to think about keeping your family safe this summer. Infants are especially vulnerable because they can’t communicate to you that they’re getting hot. The following summer safety tips for infants will help you keep your newborn or young baby safe in the hot months.
How can I keep my baby safe in the summer?
You can do several things to keep your infant safe in the summer heat. A baby’s body temperature can increase 3-5 times faster than adults. Moreover, the combined effect of humidity and heat can raise the heat index by up to 15 degrees. Heat stroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as the 50s. Here are some important tips on keeping your newborn safe this summer:
Practice car safety
You should never leave children unattended in a motor vehicle for even one minute. More than 7 out of 10 deaths from heat stroke occur in children under the age of 2, often when a child is left unattended in a car. The temperature inside a hot car can touch 110 degrees even when the outside temperature is in the 60s.
To help you remember to take the baby out when you park, put something like your purse or wallet in the back seat. Or keep a stuffed animal in the front seat whenever you put the baby in the car seat. Anything that will remind you that baby is in the back.
Additionally, follow these tips when out and about:
- Strap your infant in a properly-fitted car seat.
- The back seat is the safest place for babies to ride.
- Infants in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in a front seat that has an airbag.
- If you’re going on vacation, make sure you bring your car seat or reserve one with your rental car.
Protect your infant from direct sunlight
Children under the age of 1 should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Avoid taking your infant outdoors between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are most intense. Do not keep your infant outdoors for more than 30 minutes when temperatures are over 90 degrees.
Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is the best defense against the harmful UV rays in sunlight. But it’s not safe to apply sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months as it can irritate the baby’s delicate skin. Instead, you need to avoid direct sun exposure for newborns and young infants.
- Dress baby in a single layer of light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants (onesies are best).
- Use a wide-brimmed sun hat and sunglasses to protect the baby’s face and eyes.
- Use a stroller umbrella or shade to block sunlight from the baby’s body.
- Use a car window shade to protect the baby during car rides.
If your baby is 6-12 months old, you can use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic sunscreen formulated for delicate skin. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection. Put a small amount of sunscreen on your infant’s exposed skin, avoiding the eyes and mouth. Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before taking the baby outside and reapply it every 2 hours (sooner if the baby has been sweating or swimming). Remember that the sun’s harmful rays can pass through clouds, so sunscreen is a must even on cloudy days.
Keep baby cool in the summer heat
Here are some tips on helping baby stay cool in the summer months:
- Cool off regularly in a shady place when outdoors on hot days.
- Make sure the baby drinks plenty of fluids during outdoor activities. Water is best. Nursing mothers should drink water to stay hydrated. Carry enough water for yourself, your baby, and the older children in the family when you spend time outdoors.
- Consider carrying damp washcloths in baggies and keep them chilled in an ice cooler for quick heat relief.
- Carry a portable fan, but ensure you hold it far enough from the baby’s face to provide a gentle breeze.
Prevent rashes and bug bites
- Dress your little one in loose-fitting cotton clothing (tight clothes can give babies heat rash).
- Avoid dressing your infant in bright colors and floral prints that attract bugs.
- Avoid using fragrances or scented soaps.
- Change baby’s diaper frequently to prevent diaper rash.
- Sanitize play equipment frequently to avoid attracting ants, etc.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend insect repellents containing DEET in infants younger than 2 months. If your baby is over 2 months of age, you can use an insect repellent with DEET up to 30%. Do not spray it on your baby’s face. Spray a little onto your palm and rub it gently on your infant’s face, avoiding the eyes and mouth. Wash off the insect repellent when you come indoors.
- If you want to avoid chemical insect repellents, you can use the product on clothing instead. You can also use natural insect repellents or mosquito nets.
- Check under decks and eaves for beehives and wasp nests.
- Use window screens to keep bugs out.
- Stay away from stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.
- If you take the baby hiking in fields with long grass or woods, ensure they wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Tuck pants into socks. Onesies are best for babies. Check baby’s entire body for ticks every time you come inside from the outdoors. If you see a tick, remove it as soon as possible.
- Avoid using weed killers in your yard. If you do, keep the baby out of the yard for at least 48 hours.
Practice water safety
- You should always supervise children in or near water. Do not leave children unattended even for a minute, including babies younger than six months that are not yet mobile. Adults should take turns watching the kids.
- The FDA does not recommend using neck floats for babies. These floatation devices can increase the risk of injuries and death, especially in babies with developmental delays or special needs.
- The US Coast Guard does not recommend bringing infants on boats until they weigh at least 18 pounds (around 6 months) because life jackets for younger babies may not fit properly or perform the intended function. If you’re taking a baby on water, purchase a U.S Coast Guard-approved life jacket as a flotation aid.
- Parents should hold their baby while wearing a life jacket on a boat. Car seats are not recommended on a boat as they sink immediately should the boat capsize.
Watch for signs of heat rash and heat stroke
Young babies can’t tell you they’re getting too hot. You need to be watchful for signs like extreme tiredness, excessive drowsiness, a flushed face, sweating, and refusal to feed or drink.
If you think your infant may be overheating, take them to a cool place and apply cool washcloths or give them a cool bath. Change the baby out of sweaty clothes and replace them with a clean, cool, cotton outfit. Give baby some milk or formula to rehydrate.
Seek immediate medical care if your baby has not had a wet diaper for several hours or is breathing quickly, vomiting, or having muscle spasms. These could be signs of dehydration or heat stroke.
We hope you found these summer safety tips for infants useful. Have a great summer with your little one!