Summer is in full swing and there are some important things to remember when taking care of babies and toddlers. After months of being home and indoors, most families are thrilled to be venturing to outdoor activities! It is exciting, gives the feeling of some normalcy and it can be safe if following certain guidelines.
Here are some summer care basics + additional information for this novel era:
Everyone is at risk for sunburn. It is best for infants to stay in the shade or have their skin physically covered with lightweight clothing. The peak time for sun exposure is from 10am-4pm so there may be less risk for sunburn in the early morning or evening hours. But if adequate shade is not available, the American Academy of Pediatrics now states it is safe to use a barrier sunblock like those made from titanium dioxide or zinc oxide at any age if the infant is exposed to direct sunlight. Try to apply 30 min prior to heading out for full effect.
Along with time outdoors comes insect bites! The recommendation across the board is that newborns under the age of 2 months should not wear insect repellent. It’s best for the caretaker to apply to their hands and spread to the infants exposed skin. Deet concentration between 10-30% is acceptable. The higher the concentration the longer it repels. Picardin between 5-20% is another option. Lemon eucalyptus oil is effective but has only been studied in children > age 3 years. Some essential oils have been useful in insect repellent but while many have been shown to repel mosquitos they are less effective for some other disease causing critters like ticks. Many families are heading to the parks, lakes and are having backyard picnics so it is important to protect our littles from potential lyme, zika, west nile virus and others.
In summer it is important to dress our babies in lightweight breathable clothing. Cotton material is best and lose the blanket. Do not supplement extra water in babies less than 6 months, even if it is hot, as it may affect the concentration of sodium in their small bodies and lead to serious illness. Stick with breastmilk or formula. Stay in the shade or under an umbrella or consider a handheld fan or spray mist bottle to keep the baby cool.
Infants are at higher risk for serious infection on a normal day, especially during the first 3 months. Now with COVID in the picture there is an increased risk for viral illness especially if a parent or household member is exposed. Masks are recommended for children above age 2 years. In these COVID times it is essential for parents to wear their masks and keep diligent about limiting close sustained contact with people outside of their home. Try to maintain a physical distance of 6 feet to avoid exposure from droplets from talking, screaming, singing, coughing or sneezing. In addition, wash hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds several times per day. Keep hand sanitizer and wet wipes handy when on the go! It is important to also keep your child’s regular scheduled appointments with your pediatrician. Vaccinating as close as possible to guidelines can avoid other serious vaccine preventable illness and potential hospitalization.
Most medical practices have implemented Telemedicine appointments so do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor if there are any concerns.
Enjoy the summer and stay safe!
Dr. Amee Kapoor, DO, FACOP, is a board-certified general pediatrician practicing in New Jersey for over 18 years. Caring for babies and school age children her passion!
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