Monday, May 02, 2005

Summertime Safety for Baby

As your baby becomes more mobile, his world will expand. He will become more and more interested in the environment around him, and this includes the outdoors. While you want your baby to enjoy new experiences and learn about the world around him, you also want to ensure that he remains as safe as possible. Once you begin taking your baby outside and allowing him more freedom to explore, you will need to be ever vigilant and watchful over all of his activities.

Before you ever head for the door, the first thing you need to do is make sure that your little one is adequately protected from the sun. Most pediatricians recommend that you limit the time your baby is outside during the peak sunlight hours, which are generally between 11:00 and 4:00. However, this can be difficult to do, especially if you have other children who need your supervision.

If you and your baby are outside during this time, you need to take several precautions. First, you should always use sunscreen on your child, and this sunscreen needs to contain at least a minimum SPF 15, if not more. You should liberally apply the sunscreen to all of your child's skin, even the skin that is covered by clothing. Clothing may not provide enough protection to protect your baby from sun damage. You will need to reapply the sunscreen frequently, especially if your child has gotten wet or has perspired very much.

Next, you should dress your baby appropriately to protect her from the sun's harmful rays. Long-sleeved, light cotton shirts and pants can provide additional protection. Cotton is breathable material, so it shouldn't make her too hot.

Don't forget to protect your baby's head. You should purchase a hat that sufficiently covers your baby's face and the back of his neck. A baseball styled hat will only offer limited protection. Instead, purchase a hat that has a large rim that surrounds the entire hat, protecting his face, ears, and neck. While it may be difficult to keep glasses on your little one, sunglasses, especially those which offer UV protection, can protect your baby's eyes. If your baby doesn't want to wear them, you should make sure her hat is large enough to help shade her eyes, also.

Now that you have finally readied your child to begin her venture outdoors, you need to take a good look around your home or the area where your baby will be playing. Try to look at your yard or play area with a new awareness of danger. What may seem like fun to a toddler can actually be a dangerous hazard, and it is your job to make certain that your baby has a fun and safe time outside.

Because mobile babies can move rather quickly, you will need to pay attention to how confining her play area actually is. If she is playing in your yard, do you have a fence around it? If you and she are at a local park, how close is the play area to the road? Remember, now that your baby is able to walk, she can quickly run out of sight and into danger. Small children and babies are difficult for drivers to see, and accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

If you don't have a fenced-in yard, you might want to seriously consider remedying that situation. There is a variety of fencing available, and if you install it yourself, you can save some money. If you don't have fencing, you will probably want to encourage your baby to play in the backyard. If you begin to set boundaries for your child to adhere to, eventually those boundaries will become a habit that your child will likely follow.

If you are at a park, keep in mind that everything will most likely catch your baby's eye. The more fascinated she becomes with people, animals, and things, the more apt she will be to venture off on her own to explore. You shouldn't plan on bringing along any distractions, such as head phones, books, magazines, or work that could distract your attention from your little one. Instead, plan on being as interactive with her as possible and keep her within arm's reach at all times.

Unfortunately, child abductions are just another worry that parents must consider when they take their children anywhere. Parks can be a prime area for sexual predators and child molesters to congregate. No matter how harmless a stranger might appear to be, you cannot be certain that he will not harm or try to take your child. This is another reason that you should stay close beside your baby as he plays and explores parks and other areas.

Playground equipment can also pose a hazard to small children. Whether the equipment is in your backyard or in a local park, you should always do a thorough inspection of it. Swing sets should be anchored to the ground, and s-rings should be covered to reduce the risk of them coming undone. Swing sets should also be set away from fences, walls, and buildings to reduce the risk of injury. You should also be on the lookout for hardware that can poke or scratch your child's tender skin.

Teach your baby not to walk in front of or directly behind a child that is swinging to prevent her from being hit. You should also put your baby only on playground equipment that is suitable for her age. Don't encourage her to climb tall slides, and don't put her on monkey bars and other high equipment. A fall could result in a serious injury. Instead, encourage her to play on equipment that is suitable for her size and age.

One of the most serious dangers that may be present outside is water. A small child can drown in a small bucket of water, so be ever vigilant in watching out for your child's safety. Fish ponds, streams, creeks, wading pools, and swimming pools are all objects of fascination for your child. Keep in mind that it only takes a few minutes for a child to drown. Many people are now installing small fish ponds, and these are both decorative and beautiful. Even if you don't have one in your yard, your child may be enamored by a small pond in your neighbor's yard. Keep in mind that she may learn how to open the door and walk outside without your knowledge. She might then venture into the neighbor's yard to examine the pool.
If you are having problems keeping your little one in the house, you should place safety locks and door alarms on all of the doors. It is imperative that you learn CPR in the event that your child does fall into a body of water. Don't ever assume that your baby won't go into an area of water. You should also monitor your baby closely if she is around any area of water, whether at home, at a neighbor's, or at a local water park.

If you are planning a visit to a local pool or water park, you should keep a life jacket on your toddler at all times. While life jackets cannot take the place of adult supervision, they may save your toddler's life. It is also important that your child's life jacket is appropriately sized for her body. A life jacket that is too large can slip off of your baby, putting her life at risk.

Babies love the outdoors, and it is important for them to explore and learn about the world around them. However, parents should always be aware of the potential dangers that could occur and do their best to keep their children safe. Baby's tender skin should be protected with adequate sunscreen and light, cotton clothing. Your baby should always wear a hat to protect his face, eyes, ears, and neck. You should monitor your child's activities at all times, whether it is in the backyard or at a local park. Parents should always remember that children are fascinated by water. Most toddlers don't understand how to be cautious or fearful, so it is the parents' responsibility to vigilantly watch over their little ones.

By Susie McGee

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