Summer Safety Lessons
It’s cold here for a lot of the year – I love sweaters and quilts and being cozy. But when it’s nice out, we all love to be out and about! Here’s some Mom-to-Mom info about keeping your baby safe in the summer.
I’ve heard there’s more Lyme Disease in this area. Is that true? How do I keep my baby safe?
Last year there were 755 cases of confirmed, possible or suspect Lyme Disease in Vermont, and here in southern Vermont we have a higher number of cases than up north. (Figures and Information)
Early summer – June and July – is prime tick season.
We are so used to having our babies outside and enjoying the world – but use common sense. Don’t let your baby sit in the grass without a blanket underneath. At the end of a day outside – get your baby ready for a bath, and before the bath do a little “inspection” – look for new dark freckles and little tiny specks of dirt. That’s how a deer tick looks – the size of a pencil point.
If you find a tick – remove it. See the State of Vermont’s website for good information.
The State of Vermont also has a Tick Identification Card and a Tick booklet available at no cost.
Take tick warnings seriously. Lyme Disease can change your life forever – and not for the good.
I’m worried about my baby getting too hot in the summer months. What can I do to avoid this?
There are several steps you can take.
- Do not overdress your baby. Dress her in light-colored clothing to prevent soaking up heat.
- Have your baby drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. For breastfed babies, that may mean nursing often – but not for a long time. The fat content of your milk goes up as the feed gets longer. Babies may not want that warm Ben & Jerry’s at the end of the feed!
- Keep your baby in the shade whenever possible. Keep babies 6 months and under out of the sun.
- There were thirty three deaths of children in hot vehicles in 2011 – three already this year in 2012! Danger days can be milder than you think – a car in the sun can be 30 degrees warmer on the inside than it is outside. That means vehicles can reach life-threatening temperatures very rapidly. So if your baby falls asleep in the carseat – put down the windows and pull into a shady spot.
Some babies are very happy to get extra baths to help them cool down.
FUN IN THE SUN
For Little Ones:
- Babies under six months of age should be kept out of the direct sunlight. Move your baby to the shade or under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy. If you’re going to the beach, consider borrowing a little cabana – or go shopping between 10 and 4!
- Dress babies in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and use brimmed hats.
- It is okay to apply a small amount of sunscreen on infants under 6 months if there is no way to avoid the sun. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF (sun protection factor) should be at least 15.
As Time goes on:
- The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of ultraviolet rays) and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
- Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours — between 10am and 4pm The risk of tanning and burning also increases at higher altitude.
- Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 should be effective for most people. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
My partner has started called our baby “Little Bug Bait” – what can we do to help?
- Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your baby.
- See the separate section about DEET for info on repellants
- Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
- Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
- To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail, wash the area with soap and water, and then apply a cold compress. If swelling increases or other symptoms develop, call your doctor.
Do infant bicycle seats provide a safe travel seat for my baby?
Some do, some don’t. A safe infant seat should shield the feet and hands from the spokes, and have a safety belt to safely restrain the child. The seat must be properly installed, and all nuts and bolts should be secured. A seat used ten years ago or longer is not safe, and should not be used. Keep in mind that a child in an infant seat makes a bike more unstable for the driver.
Any tips on keeping formula and breastmilk safe?
Remember that formula is a terrific breeding ground for bacteria. Use cold packs if you’re out, and be careful to use up any formula within an hour after a bottle is made if it’s at room temperature (70 degrees). A lot of moms just decide to use powdered formula and bring a bottle of water to make it on site when they are out. Just don’t use powdered formula if your baby is under a month old (it is not sterilized at the factory and can contain bacteria that make our littlest babies sick).
Breastmilk is good up to 6 hours at 70 degrees. (It will smell spoiled if it’s gone bad. Fortunately most moms keep it in the original containers and your breasts keep milk safe even on a very hot day!) Again, remember it’s not unusual for breastfed babies to want to nurse more often but not as long a time in the summer – they get more water and less cream that way!
We hike and are used to using DEET to keep ourselves safe from bugs and ticks. Can we use it on our baby?
Experts agree that insect repellants containing DEET are the most effective. Years of DEET use have resulted in relatively few reports of adverse reactions. Most reported incidents have not been serious.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that a 30 percent concentration is safe for both children and adults, but that 10 percent can be used for children if parents are concerned about the potential risks or if the threat of disease-carrying mosquitoes is small.
In 2001 the Environmental Protection Agency made the following recommendations regarding the safe use of insect repellant with DEET for children:
- Do not apply to infants under two months of age. (Skin permeability becomes similar to an adult by the second month of life.)
- Read and follow all directions and precautions on the product label.
- Do not apply to young children’s hands or near eyes or mouth.
- Use just enough to cover the exposed skin and/or clothing.
- Do not use under clothing.
- Avoid over-application.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
- Wash treated clothing before wearing again.
- For use on face, apply to adult hands and then rub on face. Do not spray face. Avoid areas around eyes and mouth.
Even when the insect repellent you select does not contain DEET, citronella and other more “natural” repellents could cause problems in a young child if used liberally on the skin. Look into clothing that is both light for summer weather but also long to cover the skin, and use insect repellent sparingly.