With the warm weather approaching and the long winter behind us, we can all now socially distance in the safety of our own yards. This goes for babies, too — whom we can provide a little fresh air and sunshine. If you’re a new parent and experiencing your first summer with your baby, here are some ways to gear-up and safely celebrate the season.
What’s the first thing that pops into your mind in summer? Pools, of course. Not only are backyard baby pools relaxing, but they’re also a good way to prevent your baby from overheating. Plus, they are great for bonding. You can hold your baby while splashing around in the pool. If you’re thinking about buying a baby pool, keep these factors in mind.
First, the material of the pool: Do you want the ease of a plastic pool or the comfort of an inflatable pool?
The second thing to consider is durability. Make sure the pool is shallow enough and strong enough to support your baby.
Third is sun protection. Many baby pools now have built-in awnings so your baby can enjoy his or her rubber duckies in the water without being directly in the sun.
Emma McCoy, of West Park, has two children, Finnegan, 3, and 5-month-old Claire.
“We are like fish,” McCoy says. “Any time it’s warm we find some type of water to be in.”
McCoy says it seems as though her family buys a slightly bigger inflatable pool every year.
“This summer we will probably buy another pool for our toddler, but for babies, I highly recommend getting a baby pool that has a little shaded top to it,” McCoy says. “We have an inflatable one with a little palm tree to keep them out of the sun.”
Also, a big trend this year is buying a baby float with a canopy. No matter how big the pool, your baby can stay protected from the sun with a covered baby float.
Remember to supervise children at all times, whether they are spending time in a floatation device or in a swimming pool.
If your baby is going to be in the pool, make sure you’re prepared with reusable swim diapers. This trend has really taken off for two reasons. They’re reusable, so parents can simply throw them in the washer, and they help with pool rules. Many public pools require babies to wear at least two layers in the water. Some parents even go with three layers. First a diaper, then the reusable swim diaper, then the swimsuit.
When it’s time to get out of the water, it’s important to still keep babies protected. Summer tents are a perfect way to do that.
McCoy says she uses a playpen with a tent for her daughter, Claire.
“We have one that folds, so we take it everywhere,” McCoy says. “It’s perfect to take down to the beach.”
This year, anti-UV pop-up sun shelters, such as the Babymoov Tent, are popular. It has a UV shield and a mosquito net to keep the bugs out.
For many parents, making sure your baby doesn’t miss a nap is extremely important. Products such as The Slumberpod are portable blackout tents. Whether you’re traveling or out at a pool, quickly pop them up to give your little one that much-needed power nap.
Now let’s talk safety. As new parents, we worry about everything. Am I buying the right products? Is my baby happy? Most importantly, is my baby healthy and safe?
While the summer brings a lot of fun, it also brings more worry.
“Being a mom has taught me so much in life already,” says Kristy Gulcin, of Cleveland, whose daughter, Everly, is 4 months old. “Everly changes every day, and I love watching her grow.”
The Gulcin family just bought a boat and Everly’s grandparents have a pool, so they are excited to take her swimming for the first time. But, just like many moms, Gulcin has concerns. She says her biggest concern is making sure Everly doesn’t get sunburned.
Dr. Joan Tamburro, a pediatric dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, says there are many ways to protect your baby. First and foremost is ensuring you stay inside when the sun is strongest.
“It’s best not to go outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Tamburro says. “Try to do morning hours or late afternoon hours.”
Tamburro says any baby 6 months and younger should not be exposed to the sun. For older babies, she recommends applying sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to exposed skin.
There are also many safety products you can buy for your baby. One trend is buying Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) baby clothing.
“This is very specific sun protective clothing,” Tamburro says. “It is woven in a way that it doesn’t make the child hot, but it is also protective against the sun.”
There is a wide-range of UPF baby clothing — from swimsuits to shirts and pants.
Also, Tamburro says hats and sunglasses are a must.
“The younger we start putting hats and sunglasses on our kids, the better,” Tamburro says. “It’s similar to fruits and veggies. Start them young and get them understanding that this is just what we do.”
Gulcin says she already has summer baby clothes picked out, and she purchased a summer hat with UPF 50+ sun protection.
Don’t forget their cute little feet. You can even buy UV Protection socks and shoes for your baby.
As for bug spray, the current American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation is to use a product with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET for babies 2 months and older.
This summer, there are some must-have free phone apps and websites for new parents who want to stay connected.
Make sure you have an ultraviolet (UV) radiation app downloaded on your phone. Even when it’s not sunny out, the UV levels can still cause sunburn. For example, the UV Index Widget – Worldwide app checks the current radiation level and lets you know when the UV Index will be the highest that day.
What does a baby love to do? Sleep and eat. Parents know how important maintaining a daily schedule is, but how do you do that when you’re buzzing all around in the summer? How do you keep a routine when you’re on summer vacation?
Phone apps like the Sprout Baby or Huckleberry help parents track their baby’s schedule. The apps suggest times for you to feed your baby and predict good napping times.
Quickly mark what time your baby woke up, and the app will remind you when it’s time to put them back down to sleep. Spend more time having fun and less time trying to remember when you last fed your baby.
Remember, we are all in this together. Online parenting groups help remind new parents they’re not alone.
Social media platforms like Facebook are covered in mom and dad groups. Have a question about what baby pool you should purchase? Write it in a Facebook group and wait for dozens of recommendations.
Another group, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” is an online community. You will be matched with moms across the world who have a baby the same age as your baby. It’s a great place to congregate with parents going through the same baby stage you are in. Whether it’s to ask questions, share baby photos or trade funny sleep deprivation stories, you’ll always have someone to talk with, even at 2 a.m. on that hot summer morning.
Jessica Dill is a broadcast journalist turned blogger. The award-winning TV news anchor and reporter is taking a quick break from television to be home with her husband, Michael, and their new baby, Vivian. She writes about everything, including family, food, travel, fashion, motherhood, and of course — Baby Vivian. She uses her blog to spread love and cheer with a little humor sprinkled in. Jessica grew up on the west side of Cleveland while her husband grew up on the east side, so the pair loves to spend time all over Northeast Ohio. jessicalynndill.com