“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” – John Steinbeck
I love summer.
It is by far my favorite season (sorry, Autumn lovers…).
My birthday is in the summer. There is no school. And there’s the beach, literally my favorite place to be.
Oh, and how I love the feeling of the warm summer sun on my skin just warming my soul!
But this summer is especially sweet! It is finally a break from that frigid winter we all endured!
I think the whole country was a little shocked by the intensity of the cold this year.
I am going to be honest with you, I live in Florida so I am not really one to be complaining about the winter, but it did snow here this year (and stuck to the ground) which is basically unheard of in this part of the country. Anyways, I still love summer!
And you know who else loves summer? Your kids! No school. Endless hours of playing outside. Going swimming.
Every child’s dream!
So let’s let them have the summer of their dreams while keeping them safe.
Nothing puts a damper on the summer spirit like a trip to the emergency room.
Ouch! These are the worst. And they can sneak up so fast on even the most diligent parents.
Not only do sunburns cause pain, they increase your risk of getting skin cancer when you are older. The sunburns you get as a child increase your risk of melanoma (the deadly skin cancer) in adulthood.
That’s a pretty scary thought… I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that kind of guilt in my life. You better believe I use sunscreen on the kids.
Let’s talk about ways to prevent sunburns.
1. Use Sunscreens as Recommended
Sunscreen. Not everyone is a fan. I get it. It’s laden with chemicals and everything, but it works and prevents sunburn, which can be very serious.
Remember, sunscreen needs to be applied at least 15 minutes before you go out in the sun. I often find that applying it at home works best.
Whenever we get to the beach, my kids just want to feel the water, build that sandcastle, bury themselves in sand, etc.
Try telling them that they need to wait and let you apply sunscreen.
First of all, they can’t wait, so you will be applying sunscreen over sandy legs and arms. Secondly, they will be whining and crying about waiting. Thirdly, good luck keeping them still while the sunscreen needs to dry.
Oh, and I forgot, getting their whole bodies lathered up in sunscreen is near impossible with all that going on. Being the struggle bus that I am, I have missed ears, around their eyes, and parts of their backs.
Try explaining that to questioning perfectionists.
“Oh, what happened to his eyes? Is that a rash?”
“No, I missed a spot with the sunscreen yesterday.”
So let’s save ourselves some embarrassment and just apply at home (Sometimes when I forget to follow my own advice, I find applying in the car is a better option than the beach- but not while you are driving!).
Okay, back to basics. Every sunscreen has a time limit for when it needs to be reapplied. Every one that I have says 80 minutes after activity or playing in the water.
Best practice would be every hour at the top of the hour. It’s easier to remember that way.
Quick side note. Use aerosol versions cautiously. There has been some research that shows that children and babies can inhale it as it is sprayed.
I have also found it does not cover up as well. I prefer to just use the regular lotion and call it a day.
2. Avoid Going Out At the Peak Of the Day
This actually is pretty easy to do with little kids. They are up early in the morning, nap in the early afternoon, and are rearing to go again around three.
Peak time (highest UV index) is 10-2.
As a family, we love the beach but either go early in the morning or after three, especially if we have a baby in tow.
Bonus, you can avoid a lot of traffic and crowds if you go at these times.
3. Don’t Be Tricked By the Cloudy Day
A cloudy day… not as hot… but still a chance for a sunburn! What?! Yup, I think a lot of us realize this now, but we still aren’t always as vigilant about applying that sunscreen.
A sunburn hurts…
4. Cover Up as Much as You Can
We already discussed how difficult it is to apply sunscreen to kids, so why not just cover them up more?!
Buy those bathing suits with the long sleeves. Throw a sun hat on that head.
Going to the park? Consider short sleeves instead of sleeveless.
Minimize the amount of that writhing body that you have to lather up. Every little bit counts. Win for you. Win for them.
5. Don’t Forget the Babies
Babies 6 months old or younger cannot use sunscreen.
Please be prepared to protect that baby soft skin in other ways.
Think sun hat, long sleeves, thin blanket over the stroller. Whenever we went to the beach with a baby in tow, we always brought the pack and play and laid a fitted sheet over the top of it.
The sides were still breathable so the baby can feel the breeze. It is open enough so the baby isn’t stuck in the car seat. It is raised so sand isn’t just coming in.
And it blocks out the harsh rays of the sun! I have seen many people use a pop up tent the same way.
Oh popsicles and watermelon. The joys of summer… and a way for kids to stay hydrated.
The risk for dehydration is much greater in the summer because of all the playing going on.
When kids play, they sweat (water loss); they breathe faster and harder (something the medical professionals call “insensible fluid loss”); and they are having too much fun to stop and drink.
1. How Do You Know if Your Child Might Be Dehydrated?
- Not producing any more sweat
- Not urinating enough or Urine is dark
- Feeling more tired or weak
2. How Do You Keep Kids Hydrated?
- Offer water (6 months and up) or breastfeed more
- Fruits with high water content
- Be aware of fluid loss and compensate
Think of the most common ways that kids are losing fluid. Sweating. Breathing fast. Going to the bathroom (both urine and bowel movements). Vomiting.
On a normal day, what goes out should equal what goes in, but sometimes what goes out is greater than what goes in.
Some things outside of the regular summer stuff that can cause this are illnesses. Think of fevers, runny noses, diarrhea, stomach bugs.
If your child has this or is just getting over this type of illness, do not let him go crazy outside in the summer. Don’t plan a full beach day.
The child is probably out of balance. He needs more fluids to make up for the days when he was sick.
As a parent, I know this is so difficult. “I feel fine, Mom.” “I am so bored.” And the truth is, the kid looks fine. He has his energy back up. He is driving you crazy. But you need to be mindful of the risk of dehydration.
I am not saying not to let them play outside. I am just saying to limit their time outside. Provide extra opportunities
for breaks. Bring out popsicles. Let them have second. Bring out some watermelon.
Keep those water bottles filled with ice water. It’s the little things.
3. How Much Fluid Do Kids Need?
There is a really complex formula that we use to figure out the exact amount of fluids children need based on their weight in kilograms, but I am not going there today.
Let’s just keep it generic.
Preschoolers: roughly 5 cups a day
School Age: 5-6 cups a day
Preteens: roughly 7 cups a day
Teens: 8-10 cups a day (like adults)
Now these are just estimates.
Base how much your child needs on how much he wants. And of course, if he is sweating a lot, he will need more for that.
Also, don’t overly stress about their fluid intake. Don’t force them to drink water until they are sick to meet the daily water quota for the day.
First of all, get creative (i.e. popsicles). Secondly, be more attentive to the signs of dehydration. If they appear to be okay, don’t worry too much.
Kids usually do a pretty good job of making sure they have enough to drink as long as they have access to it.
Here is what I typically do when all three of my munchkins are outside playing in the summer. First, I enjoy it. It’s good for them and relaxing for me.
Then I usually fill up their fancy stainless steel water bottles with ice water and bring them out to them – mandatory water break.
I like having the stainless steel water bottles because it keeps the water really cold, just like my kids like it.
Otherwise, they will complain and say the water is “yucky” after just half an hour (which is annoying for me…). After they have their water break, I go inside and start getting a snack ready.
See if we have popsicles. Cut up some fruit (which has water in it). Find something refreshing. So after an hour or so of play, I get their snack together and make them have a picnic.
What kid doesn’t love a picnic? I also will refill their water bottles too if needed. Depending on how long they are outside, I might do another water break and maybe get lunch ready for them outside.
You know how us moms are, always bothering those kids… because we love them!
Little Things You Can Do For Your Kids to Stay Safe
So, moms, enjoy the summer and stay out of the emergency room. It’s time to throw that sunscreen in the diaper bag, stock up on popsicles, and tell that “Mr. Golden Sun to please shine down on me!”