During the summer season it is important that parents consider a series of care for their children that can prevent unwanted circumstances and at the same time, expand the comfort, care and enjoyment of all those moments spent with their babies in summer.
Summer is a time of the year that makes it possible to change habits and enjoy family time more. During these months, there are a series of tips that all parents should take into account to prevent unwanted circumstances and at the same time, expand the comfort, care and enjoyment of moments spent with their babies.
Sun and heat protection
Although the protection of the skin against the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays should be taken into account throughout the year, it is in summer when children may be even more exposed to their effects. It should be borne in mind that sand, asphalt…, act as a reflection of these rays between 10 and 25% and can enhance their harmful effects. Young children and, above all, those under the age of 3 are the most sensitive to the possible negative effects of prolonged exposure to the sun. In order to avoid, from the earliest age, skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays A or B throughout life (skin cancer, photo-aging, burns, solar itching, etc.) and also in the eyes, it is very important to be clear about the measures recommended for this.
In babies younger than 6 months, the use of creams with sun protection factor (with chemical, physical or mixed filters) is not indicated, due to the sensitivity of the skin in these initial months of life. To protect these babies from the sun, it is recommended not to expose and always protect them with physical measures such as umbrellas, hats, clothing, etc. Only if the baby of this age is irremediably going to have to be exposed for a long period to the sun, in addition to all these measures, you can use a sunscreen in small amounts and in the most exposed areas and smaller extension such as the face.
From the age of 6 months onward, the above-mentioned advice is valid in terms of protecting babies with physical measures and minimizing the time they are exposed to the sun, especially avoiding the hours when there is the greatest incidence of solar radiation (from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). If the baby is going to be exposed to the sun, until the age of 3 and especially in children under 1 year old, it is recommended to use sun protection cream with physical filters (mineral) with at least one protection factor 30, being recommended the factor 50. The cream should be applied at least 15 minutes before exposure to the sun and not forget its application every two hours and after each bath, even with creams resistant to water. In addition, it is recommended on beaches, swimming pools, rivers etc., keep children always under a shadow as long as possible and do not forget to use caps, hats and sunglasses with UV protection, and even the use of clothing in periods when the child is not going to bathe.
It is also important to bear in mind that babies are very sensitive to the increase in temperature, since the mechanisms for regulating the body’s temperature in newborns have yet to develop. For this reason, babies are exposed to dehydration and heatstroke more often. This fact should not be forgotten when exposing them to high temperatures, always avoiding risky situations such as keeping children in a non-ventilated vehicle. It is also important to encourage the entry of air and ventilation in baby carriages, pushchairs and carts, avoiding covering them with fabrics added to the hoods of the pushchairs, which can create an increase in temperature inside the car. In addition, it is important that comfortable, clear cotton or linen clothes are worn on the clothing.
Hydration and nutrition
In the first few months of life, the breastfeeding baby takes in all the nutrients he or she needs from breast milk or through artificial feeding. This diet ensures proper nutrition and hydration, with no need for extra water. From the introduction of the complementary and solid feeding, the baby must be offered gradually the water intake, trying to be more vigilant during the summer to avoid the dehydration since its lower corporal water content, makes them more sensitive to it. Water, together with the milk and liquid contained in the food itself, is the baby’s main source of hydration according to his age, and he should not be given any other type of drink for this purpose.
The diet introduced according to the age of the child, should be varied and healthy, always being recommended the greatest contribution of fruits and vegetables, with appetizing and fresh dishes that help to support the hottest days. It is also important to take into account the appropriate conservation of food in these times of high temperatures, to avoid food intoxicating infections.
There are some basic precautions when traveling with babies. First of all, it is essential to use homologized car seats for journeys adapted to age and weight (group O, O+, I, II, etc.), and whenever possible, in the upwind position.
When starting the trips, it is advisable to make a previous forecast of possible stopping places to take breaks, necessary both for parents or caregivers and for the child himself, and thus be able to offer adequate nutrition and hydration, diaper change if necessary and also a postural change (get out of the chair, etc.), which will also help you relax and rest.
You should always take with you the basic documentation, such as the health card, the health booklet with the vaccination carried out, the ID card (if the baby has been vaccinated) and if you are traveling abroad as well, don’t forget the passport or the European health card, for example.
All medical reports specifying the diagnosis and the possible treatments needed should always be taken if the child suffers from any illness. Also, never forget the medication that the baby needs to take and other hygiene tools such as diapers, protective creams or moisturizers, wipes and other specific hygiene materials for babies.
Children should follow the immunization schedule indicated by public health systems. If the baby is going to travel abroad, it is advisable to be examined a few weeks before the trip by your pediatrician, who will depend on the vaccination status and age of the child, as well as the destination and possible risks of acquiring preventable diseases. The doctor may indicate if necessary, an additional or advanced vaccination, taking into account the requirements of the Foreign Health Regulations or those of the country of destination. The doctor will also inform the parents if it is necessary to go to the international vaccination center for more specific vaccinations.
Related pathological processes
During the summer, some conditions related to the environment to which children may be exposed may appear more frequently. Thus, it is relatively common that skin lesions may occur due to insect bites (mosquitoes etc.), which can be prevented with the use of mosquito nets, mosquito repellents in lotion or electrical (depending on the age of the child), use of light clothing, etc. Also, skin reactions related to humidity and heat can appear, especially in the areas of the body joints (eczema, diaper rash, etc.). To avoid their appearance, it is advisable to bathe the baby daily, use breathable fabrics, change clothes frequently if the child sweats a lot, or diaper, trying to keep the skin dry at all times.
Other diseases that may appear with greater incidence at this time, are food toxic infections by contamination of food with inadequate conservation, germs, which produces the appearance of acute gastroenteritis with vomiting, fever, diarrhea, etc. It is therefore essential to monitor the conservation of food and maintain adequate hygiene to prevent these episodes.
In addition, the humid environment, water, heat, contact with swimming pools favor the appearance of infections such as external otitis, or other infections of the upper respiratory tract. Avoiding as much as possible direct contact with sick people, maintaining hygiene measures such as frequent hand washing, avoiding sudden changes in temperature (air conditioners, etc.), carrying out exhaustive drying of babies’ skin when bathing, not maintaining wet clothes or bathing suits, etc. are measures that can contribute to preventing this type of pathology.
Childhood accidents are common causes of preventable injury and death, and it is in summer, where one in four childhood accidents occur.
Drownings are in early childhood unfortunately common every year in swimming pools and beaches around the world in summer, and it is, in a high percentage, avoidable with basic surveillance measures. For a baby to drown, it is not necessary that the water level in which it is submerged is very deep, and in a few minutes, the lives of the little ones are in danger. It is advisable that babies younger than 6 months do not bathe in swimming pools and beaches because of the immaturity of their immune system, the sensitivity of their skin to products such as chlorine, etc. Parents should be especially cautious with babies who are already crawling or wandering in these types of spaces, especially in those homes where they enjoy swimming pool facilities with easy access and close proximity.
Other dangers that can exist for babies who start crawling and wandering are windows, balconies and open terraces without gratings or other protective mechanisms. Children’s innate curiosity and encouragement to discover the world leads them to explore and try challenges that their caregivers sometimes do not believe they will be able to accomplish. Climbing to a nearby table, chair, or sidewalk and “leaning out” to discover what it is that they can see, can lead them to risky situations that in seconds become equally great tragedies.
On the other hand, summer is a period when vehicle journeys increase and it is essential to transport babies in them in correctly approved car seats, adapted to the age and weight of the baby and better placed upwind, in such a way as to minimize the possible impact of high energy on the baby’s body in the event of a traffic accident.
Outdoor activities can always be used during the summer to stimulate the child’s psychomotor skills. Bearing in mind all the above-mentioned advice regarding protection from ultraviolet rays, hydration, vigilance, etc. The exercises and free games are fundamental for the baby’s proper development. Take advantage of environments in which children can experiment with different textures: walking barefoot on sand, grass, for example, stimulates the proprioceptive system of their nervous system, their locomotor system, vision and attention, and so on. To be able to crawl in wide spaces, to take their first steps, to maintain a stimulus in the next games of siblings and other children, are activities that can be carried out with the smallest in the summer, being a motive of enjoyment for them and the whole family.