Amazing Products (Plus Tips from the Pediatrician!) to Keep Your Baby Cool and Safe this Summer

beach
Image via Flickr/ Eduardo Merille

Summertime means warmth, sunshine, and lots of time outdoors. All that sunshine is glorious for kids, but if parents aren't careful, it can spell trouble in the form of sunburn, rashes, meltdowns from overheating, or even skin cancer later in life.

Since hibernating indoors isn't an option for families, there are some steps that all parents can take to help keep kids safe and comfortable during the summer.

Dr. Jack Maypole, Educational Advisory Board member at The Goddard School and pediatrician for medically complex children at Boston Medical Center, explains why keeping kids safe in the sun is so important: “In the U.S., most kids will have received up to 80% of their lifetime sun exposure (and thus, solar radiation) by the time they are 18, and in any year, about 2/3 of kids get sunburned each summer.”

In the following, you'll learn a few tips from Dr. Maypole regarding how to protect little ones from sunburns and, consequently, long-term sun damage:

sunscreen
Image via Flickr/ Sharon

(re)Apply early and often: Slather a generous application of screen (1-2 ounces) at least 30 minutes before your kids enter then sun to allow for absorption and then reapply at least every two hours.

sunscreen
Image via Flickr/ Pete

Choose well: Choose sunscreens for kids that protect against UVA and UVB rays, and when picking by SPF, use products rated at 30 SPF or higher.

sunscreen
Image via Flickr/ Eve Ma

What about the health effects of sunscreen itself? For parents who may be concerned about absorption of chemical sun quenchers in some products, those with metal in the sunscreens — like zinc or titanium oxide — are most likely to be the safest. 

{ MORE: The Number of Kids Sent to the ER for Doing This Has Gone Up 90% In 20 Years. Know the Risks. }

suprotection
Image via Flickr/ Bilal Kamoon

Sun protection for the youngest: As a guideline, children under 2 shouldn't be out from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. if the sun is strong) unless they are completely protected from the sun. Parents have to remember UV rays pierce clouds on cloudy days and can be reflected off of water, pavement, or snow, making even shady areas less protected.

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How bright is too bright? If you can take a photo without a flash, that's too much sun.

sunburn
Image via Flickr/ Erin Stevenson O'Connor

Cooling off cases of sunburn: For the afflicted, sunburns hurt. Peak redness usually occurs 6-12 hours after sun exposure. Discomfort can get pretty wicked, with the first wave of pain arriving usually the night of the exposure.

For pain, use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, in children over 12 months. Motrin is also appropriate and effective.

Cool, moistened towels or applications of aloe gel may also provide relief. Topical anesthetic sprays may provide a few minutes of relief, but I encourage families to put their dollars and effort elsewhere.

Stroller Cooler: Hot days can be trying on small children in strollers. I was happy to find Geleeo stroller liners that keep the riding baby a few degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

I choose Geleeo because it doesn't require being put in the refrigerator or freezer and maintains constant cooling. I am happy to report that my baby seems happier in his stroller with the Geleeo, which makes a happy mama.

glasses
Image via Jamie Davis

Sunglasses. Little eyes are sensitive and need protection, too. Babiators make glasses that are not just adorable mini versions of aviator glasses, but they will actually stay on your baby and toddler. As a bonus, Babiators will replace glasses that are lost or broken within the first year after purchase. 

{ MORE: How to Survive Your Third-Trimester Summer }

Hat: I wear a hat throughout the summer to keep myself cooler and protect my face from the sun. Kids should do the same! To keep kids protected you can move past the bucket hat. I love mini-versions of the hats I wear. There's nothing cuter than my infant wearing his MudPie fedora. My four year old loves wearing her Snapperrock fedora with a cute pink and white stripped band. Find a hat you and your child love to be sure it actually gets put on her head!

baby carrier
Image via Flickr/ Onya Baby

Baby Carrier. Babies who like to be carried don't suddenly like to be put down just because the weather turns warm. Choosing the right baby carrier can really help. I've found that my Onya Next Step carrier is perfect for warm weather since it's made from a lightweight twill and is lined completely with air mesh to keep it breathable.

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The fabric is also water resistant, so it dries quickly if you plan on wearing your baby to the beach or around an older child's water activities. Other ways Onya recommends to stay cool are putting ice packs in the carrier's pockets and carrying an umbrella to keep yourself and your baby cool.

snapper rock
Image via Snapper Rock

Swimsuit. For many kids, summer means lots of time in the water — whether it's afternoons spent poolside or in the backyard playing with the hose or in sprinklers. To keep kids protected, choose your swimsuit wisely and look for suits with maximum protection, including shirts with long sleeves and suits with UV protection.

Snapperrock has really cute protective styles, including three-piece sets for girls that come with long-sleeve swim shirts for outdoor play and a bikini top for trips to indoor pools where maximum coverage isn't required.

little tikes
Image via Little Tikes

Keep It Shady. Even when all I want to do is be inside, my kids beg me to go outdoors. A good solution I've found to keep them cool and sun-safe for doing crafts outdoors and snacking is to use a kid-sized table with an umbrella like the Little Tikes Easy Store Picnic Table that can seat four little ones comfortably under the shade.

tent
Image via Jamie Davis

Tent. When kids want to be outside but the sun is beating down, set up a tent and let them play inside. The Pacific Play Tents Seaside Beach Cabana is large enough for a few kids or a parent and a child to play safely outside while sheltered from the sun.

Since this tent zips from the outside, I've also found it to be the perfect solution for somewhere cool and safe to put my baby outdoors while his older siblings play nearby. 

{ MORE: Summer Learning: How You Can Boost Your Kid's Brain Power This Summer }

bedding
Image via aden + anais

Bedding. Preschoolers love their blankets, but it can get hot at night under the covers. I took a cue from my baby's lightweight blankets and got a lightweight aden + anais toddler bedding set, complete with a muslin pillow for my toddler.

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sunscreen
Image via Flickr/ Butterbean Organics

Sunscreen. Sunscreen is important, even if it can be a pain to apply at times. For my kids, I use ButterBean Organics because it meets Dr. Maypole's requirements for safety and is made with organic ingredients. I find it easy to apply and reapply.

To help my little ones be more open to the idea of being slathered several times a day, I put sunscreen on them and have a contest to see who can rub theirs in the quickest. To avoid sunscreen in the eyes, I always do their faces for them.

shoes
Image via Kamik

Water Shoes: My kids love playing in the water all summer long, whether it's playing with a sand table in the backyard or if it's taking a trip to a local splash park.

To make sure their feet stay safe and that they don't ruin their shoes, I always put them in playground-style water shoes with closed toes. Kamik shoes are cute and can do double duty, shifting from street shoes to water shoes for kids who can't be bothered to change before splashing.

sprinkler
Image via Melissa and Doug

Waterplay: Even on days when it seems it's too hot to move, kids still enjoy being outside. A great way to keep them cool is to involve lots of water play. 

{ MORE: What to Keep in Your Car for a Fabulous Spontaneous Adventure }

There are nearly endless options here. A favorite water activity of my family's is to use our adorable Melissa and Doug blossom sprinkler. Since we have a new baby this year, we also got a backyard pool large enough for me to sit in with him, a ten foot Intex Easy Set pool that helps keep the whole family cool. A water and sand table, like the Treasure Hunt Sand Table from Little Tikes, is an option that will last kids for years.

mosquito band
Image via Parakito

Bug Band. Bugs–yuk! Nothing can ruin a fun time outside in the summer like mosquitos. For parents and kids who want to avoid sprays, I've found Para'Kito, a cool bracelet-looking band that contains a deet-free, all natural tab that really does work to keep the little biters at bay.

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baby blanket
Image via aden + anis

Stroller/Car Seat Cover: It's important to protect little stroller and car-seat travelers when outside in the summer. No fancy covers are needed. I've found lightweight blankets, like the muslin ones made by aden + anais, are the perfect solution to keep harmful rays off of my baby while still keeping him cool and are big enough to cover the stroller as well.

{ MORE: Are You Expecting Again in the New Year? How Can You Prepare for Baby #2? }

Are you having a good summer? What do you do to keep your family safe and cool?

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Amazing Products (Plus Tips from the Pediatrician!) to Keep Your Baby Cool and Safe this Summer

Jamie is a Beltway Insider who loves channeling her pre-motherhood love of traveling into spending time exploring all D.C. has to offer with her brood of two girls and two boys ages 9, 7,5, and a baby. She is a reformed lawyer turned full-time kid wrangler who enjoys photographing her everyday chaos and anything salted caramel. Since life is never dull, she loves writing about the issues and events going on in her life at any given time, including caring for a daughter with special needs and th ... More

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