With its long days, warm weather, and slower schedules, summer offers endless opportunities for adventure, exploration, and fun with your little one (if you’ve ever heard an infant’s giggles while swinging for the first time or watched a tot splash around wildly in the kiddie pool, you know what we’re talking about). As you enter a new season with baby in tow, you’ll also want to brush up on any potential safety concerns to ensure that you have the best summer ever. Since knowing how to avoid common dangers and pitfalls doesn’t always come naturally (we’ve been there!), we did the legwork for you and chatted with pediatricians and first responders to gather the best tips for keeping your infant healthy and happy all season long. 

1. Fit Check

Days of fun in the sun have arrived, but before venturing out you’ll want to have a plan for protecting your baby from the bright, summer sunshine. If your first thought is to reach for the sunscreen, think again. Both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend skipping sunscreen until at least 6 months of age. So how do you shield your tiny guy or gal from harmful rays? Stock their closet with UPF clothing and hats, which use a treated fabric that can prevent up to 98% of UV radiation from reaching their delicate skin. Even if your infant is old enough for sunscreen, remember that the sun’s rays can still penetrate most fabrics, leading to sunburns. (The average cotton t-shirt only blocks between 5 and 15 percent of harmful UV rays.) You’ll also want to hang in the shade when possible.

2. (Don’t) Cover Up 

When they’re small enough to be toted around in an infant car seat or stroller, it may seem like a good idea to throw a blanket over the top to keep your babe out of the sun or protect them from noises that could ruin a much-needed nap. But Dr. Aysha Jabbar, a pediatrics specialist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, warns against this common practice. “People use the muslin blankets thinking they are more breathable, but they can still trap heat inside,” she says. “Plus, you can’t see the baby, and if it falls, you pose a suffocation risk.” Instead, she recommends seeking out items made for this purpose, like mesh shields, and keeping them cool with clip-on stroller fans and water-misting sprays. 

3. Heat + Hydration 

Keeping baby hydrated is a year-round must, but in the summer months it’s easier for their tiny bodies to overheat and get dehydrated. “Infants are not able to sweat, which is our body’s way of keeping our internal temperature down, so their temperature goes up considerably faster,” says Jabbar. To keep your little one safe in the heat, follow common summer safety tips, like staying in the shade, giving more frequent feedings, and, for older babies, offering water-rich foods like cucumbers and watermelon. Even with these measures, watch for signs of dehydration, such as clammy skin, inadequate urine production (less than six wet diapers in a 24-hour period), and excessive sleepiness. If you notice any of these signs, get to a cool space immediately and offer breast milk or a formula feeding. Babies who have started solids can have water as well, and those over the age of one can rehydrate with an infant-approved electrolyte drink like Pedialyte (pro tip: they make electrolyte freezies too!).

4. Swim Safe

Babies love playing in water, so the more opportunities to splash around the better, whether it’s in a pool or at the local splash pad. With that in mind, water safety is crucial, and the statistics about drowning deaths are chilling. In the first 12 months of life, they are the second leading cause of “unintentional injury deaths,” and by age one they’re the leading cause.  

First and foremost, you’ll want to be vigilant when your baby is near water and make sure you’re always within arm’s reach—even at a super shallow wading pool (babies and young children can drown in just 2 inches of water). But there’s a lesser-known tip that can help keep them safe. When you’re perusing all the adorable infant swimsuits this year, choose one that is bright and colorful, advise aquatic safety experts ALIVE Solutions, Inc. A neon swimsuit is more easily and quickly spotted than darker options or those in white or light blue, which become virtually invisible when submerged. Because drownings can happen in as little as 30 seconds, picking a suit with better visibility offers another layer of protection around the water.

Related: 15 Kids’ Swimsuits on Amazon in the Safest Colors

5. Bye-Bye Bugs 

Everyone loves summer—including all manner of biting and stinging insects, like mosquitos, wasps, and bees. If your summer plans will take you to an area that is prone to insect activity, be sure to have the proper gear in place to protect baby. The jury is still out on using insect repellants on infants under two, so opt for mosquito nets over strollers, clip-on fans to keep bugs from landing on your tot, and loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants with hats. Just be sure to avoid bright colors and prints, which can actually attract insects.

Forgetting your baby in the car? Unimaginable! And yet, it’s happened to more than a few totally responsible yet totally exhausted parents. Each summer, there are fatalities caused by children being left in hot vehicles. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, the National Safety Council suggests that you leave a personal item next to your baby in the back seat, and make sure it’s one that you’ll need when you get out of the car. Since even a purse or phone can be forgotten, one expert tip is to remove your left shoe and place it by the car seat. “Having that item there gives you another layer of accountability, and a rear-facing mirror can help, too” says Trevor Riddell, a firefighter in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Riddell cautions that forgetfulness isn’t the only reason accidents happen in hot cars. Others stem from intentionally leaving your baby in the car. “Sometimes people think they’ll only be gone for a little while, but on a 95-degree day, the ambient air temperature inside a vehicle can reach 120 degrees,” he explains. “And, things never take ‘just a minute.’” On other occasions, an infant may accidentally be locked in the car, in which case a magnetic hide-a-key holder secured to the underside of the car can be a lifesaver. Once your kiddo gets older, Riddell urges parents to keep vehicles locked at all times and keys placed out of reach to avoid a child entering the car without their knowledge.

7. Play It Cool 

Playgrounds are like mini amusement parks, giving your tot the chance to swing and slide but also the opportunity to watch the big kids at play. In all the excitement, we sometimes forget to feel around for hot surfaces, which can reach upwards of 189 degrees. To play it safe, visit playgrounds early in the morning, before the summer sun has had a chance to heat up the equipment, and always do a touch test before popping baby into a swing or sending them down the slide. Rather than using the palm of your hand, try testing the temperature with your wrist (the same trick you’d use to test the temperature of milk in a bottle). It’s more sensitive, and therefore more likely to provide an accurate read. 

8. Cookout Caution 

It’s baby’s first summer party season! Since you’ve probably got cookouts and barbecues to attend with your mini-me, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that these shindigs often expose infants to new foods—some of which are choking hazards. This is particularly true if your baby’s on the move and can reach up and grab goodies off a table. Look out for seasonal favorites like hot dogs, nuts, popcorn, and grapes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cutting round firm foods into tiny pieces to serve as finger food, and not offering popcorn to children under 4. And you’ll want to watch closely if any parties have balloons as decorations, which are also a choking hazard for kids. 

Now that you’re armed with an arsenal of seasonal safety tips, get out there and make the most of your first summer with baby. It’s going to be the best!

Make sure to capture all your favorite summer memories—and share them with your family and friends near and far—with the Tinybeans app. The secure platform puts parents in total control of who sees and interacts with photos and videos of their kids.

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