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For a new mom, summer is a great time of year. Once the weather warms up, there are so many more options for activities to get you and your little one out of the house. While a little sunshine is needed at all ages to help the body produce vitamin D, taking your baby outside in the summer months requires some extra steps to make sure their first outdoor adventures are safe.

The first thing to do when planning for a day outside is to think about protecting their skin. While everyone needs to be wearing sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays, your baby’s skin is especially sensitive. Make sure to use sunscreen approved for young children and apply it from head to toe once your child is six months or older. If you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time, make sure to reapply as needed, especially if you’ll be holding your baby in the pool.

The next thing to be mindful of is overheating. Babies can quickly overheat from being exposed to high temperatures for too long, which can lead to a fever and rapid heart beat, also known as heat stroke. The best way to prevent this is to make sure they’re properly outfitted for whatever outdoor activity you have planned. Pick clothing that is made from a light, breathable fabric and avoid any dark colors. A hat is also a smart option to further block out the sun’s rays and prevent sunburn as well. Once they’re dressed, make sure to keep them in the shade as much as possible by using a cover on their stroller or simply picking a spot under a tree or awning.

While you’re out and about, dehydration is another summer danger to be mindful of. The symptoms of dehydration include flushed skin, sweating, skin that is warm to the touch and rapid or strained breathing. Make sure to bring along plenty of extra formula or breastmilk to make up for any fluids lost due to perspiration.

If you have exposed your baby to the summer sun, this can cause skin irritations like heat rash or sunburn. A heat rash will show as small, red bumps, typically in the joint areas or in the folds of skin, while a sunburn will result in red skin, swelling and possibly blisters. If you notice these symptoms, bring them indoors and change them into comfortable, breathable clothing. Use lotion to calm irritation and help the skin heal.

Pay attention to how your little one is acting and how they look. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s time to get inside right away. If their symptoms don’t improve or worsen, seek medical attention immediately. And NEVER leave a baby or small child in a confined space like a parked car during the summer months unattended. The rapidly increasing temperature can prove fatal.  Sunshades will help to protect your baby when you are out and about in the car.

Getting your child outside in the summer for walks around the neighborhood, picnics in the park and first dips in the water with you and your partner can make for some wonderful memories. Remember, the sun’s peak hours are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which may be hours to avoid, depending on your baby’s age.  Keep these summer safety tips in mind and you’ll be all set for a great time.

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