How to Help Your Baby Beat the Heat, Sweat, and Sun
Summer looks very different than planned for many families this year. Trips have been cancelled. Camps are closed. Indoor establishments are operating under unprecedented restrictions (if at all). But for families with a baby, many things remain the same as they would’ve been in the absence of a pandemic. Balancing your baby’s essential needs with a need to get outside can be a challenge when the heat feels oppressive. Here are some tips to keep you and your baby cool and safe in the dog days of summer.
AVOID PEAK HEAT.
Try to plan any outdoor daytime activities with your baby during the early morning or late afternoon. The four-hour stretch from 10am to 2pm is when the sun is at its highest intensity and UV exposure is the most dangerous. Stick to indoor activities during this timeframe if possible.
Babies can get sweaty and uncomfortable quickly in hot weather. Dress your little one in lightweight, breathable clothing to prevent overheating. Even better, look for options with UPF protective fabric.
Kickee Pants makes some of the softest clothing for babies and children on the planet and now many pieces offer UPF 50+ protection.
Coolibar was one of the first brands to produce sun protective clothing and has been tested and recommended by dermatologists worldwide. Its baby and kid’s line includes a range of protective swimsuits, bodysuits, hats, and everyday separates.
UV Skinz offers full-coverage UPF 50+ play suits and sun hats in adorable prints.
MAKE YOUR OWN SHADE.
Little ones, especially newborns, should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. When venturing out for a walk with your baby in the stroller, pull down the sun canopy as far as it goes and try to create additional coverage with a muslin blanket or towel if your baby’s legs are exposed. When out with your baby in a carrier, bring along an umbrella or wear a large sun hat to protect both of you.
The SnoozeShade Universal Infant Car Seat Cover is designed to protect your baby from the elements and keep naptime on track. Made of soft stretchy mesh fabric that blocks UV light and allows airflow, the cover sports a front panel that unzips to give you quick access to your baby without removing the shade and a sneak-a-peek window that lets you check on your baby without letting in lots of light. This cocoon-like cover also protects your baby from bug bites, grabby strangers, and light rain.
The Balboa Baby 2 in 1 Car Seat Canopy can be velcroed to the handle of any infant car seat to provide instant coverage from sunlight and other elements. Like a blanket, it drapes over the car seat to create a dark, cozy environment for napping on the go. But unlike a blanket, it is secured to the handle (and therefore doesn’t pose a safety risk) and has snaps down the middle that you can open to check on your baby. These snaps also make it easily double as a nursing cover.
The SnoozeShade Stroller Sun Cover is an incredibly versatile, mom-invented stroller sunshade and baby sleep aid. If your baby is lying in a bassinet attachment or the main seat of your stroller, this sun cover can either function as a black-out blind enveloping the entire stroller opening or as a stroller canopy extender.
PACK A SUN HAT.
Slip a sunhat into a pocket of your diaper bag, and you’ll always be prepared to keep the sun’s harmful rays off your baby’s sensitive skin. Besides shade, protective clothing is your baby’s best line of defense against the sun. Look for a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat that shades the neck and has a velcro or tie strap under the chin to keep little fingers from yanking it off.
The iPlay Baby & Toddler Brim Sun Protection Hat provides all-day sun protection for your baby’s head, neck, and eyes. The wicking liner is breathable, the UPF 50+ fabric dries quickly, and the tie strap keeps everything in place. There is even an adjustable toggle on the back to create a custom fit on your baby’s head as it grows.
The BANZ Reversible Feel No Flare Sunhat features a velcro closure in the back of the brim for easy adjustability. Its UPF 50+ fabric is breathable and quick-drying. There is a fun print on one side and a solid color on the other, so you get two looks in one!
The SwimZip Sun Hat has a similar design to iPlay’s version with a few extra features. Both the head strap and break-away chin strap have toggles to easily create the best fit possible. Side venting keeps your baby’s head cool, while an extra-wide sturdy brim provides optimal UPF 50+ protection. This is an ideal sun hat to bring to the beach or pool because it stays secured to your baby’s head on a windy day and floats if it ends up in the water.
BE SUNSCREEN SMART.
Sunscreen is not recommended for babies under the age of six months because their skin is more sensitive, less mature, and thus more susceptible to reactions. Their skin also has a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to children and adults, which means that exposure to the chemicals in sunscreen may be greater. If your baby is younger than six months, be vigilant about protective clothing and shade.
If your baby is older than six months, lather on the sunscreen! Generally, a physical sunblock, which sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays, is preferable to a chemical sunscreen, which is absorbed into the skin. Read the Environmental Working Group's (EWG's) in-depth analysis on sunscreen safety and efficacy, pick the sunscreen for you and your family, and remember to reapply often, especially when it comes to your baby’s delicate skin. Here are some that we recommend (and meet EWG criteria):
ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 provides 80-minute water resistance and broad spectrum coverage using the active ingredient zinc oxide. Free of harmful additives like parabens, phthalates, PABA, and oxybenzone, ThinkBaby’s line of sunscreens are also top-rated by the EWG. The sun stick is especially handy for stashing in a pocket and quickly swiping a squirmy baby. It applies and absorbs easily without a greasy feeling or fragrance.
All Good Kids’ Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is formulated with certified organic ingredients including calendula, chamomile, and olive oil to gently soothe sensitive skin. It provides full UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection for up to 80 minutes in the water and up to two hours outside the water. With zinc oxide as its mineral sun-blocking agent, the formula leaves out chemical UV absorbers and harmful toxins.
Blue Lizard Baby Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30+ combines the power of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to act like thousands of tiny UV-reflecting shields on your baby’s skin. Its paraben-free and fragrance-free formula is gentle on sensitive skin, and it doesn’t leave a greasy or sticky residue. Blue Lizard is the top mineral sunscreen brand recommended by pediatricians and dermatologists alike for good reason.
Even though breast milk and formula provide all the hydration young babies need, hot weather can increase their thirst. Because they can’t tell you when they’re thirsty, it’s important to offer a bottle or breastfeed frequently. When breastfeeding in the heat, place a burp cloth or another layer of fabric between you and your baby to avoid sticky skin contact, and remember to drink plenty of water. Babies over six months can have small amounts of water between their regular milk feedings. A good indicator that your baby is getting enough fluids is six to eight wet diapers in a 24-hour period.
CAR SAFETY FIRST
On a sweltering day, an air-conditioned car ride can feel just as refreshing as a dip in the pool! Always store your infant car seat indoors out of direct sunlight so the metal buckles don’t get burning hot, and make sure to cool down the car before putting your baby inside. It’s also a good idea to install a sun shade on the window next to your baby’s car seat to minimize sun exposure. Car sun shades come in many shapes, sizes, and designs, and newer vehicles often come with built-in rear window shades. It goes without saying that you should never leave your baby unattended in a parked car during the summer.
Now that you are equipped with summer essentials and safety tips, we hope that you embrace the sunshine and enjoy the rest of the summer with your little one and loved ones!
With Warmth and Wellness,
Your EmmaWell Team