Surviving Summer

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I always loved season changes when my kids were babies. New seasons brought new adventures and different experiences to introduce them to. In the autumn, I loved giving them dry leaves to crumple in their hands. The texture totally freaked them out, and it cracked me up every time. In the winter, snow was a crazy time for new senses. Running their hands through snow or shoving a big fistful into their mouth was something new and amazing to them. In the spring, we explored outdoor festivals, where we listened to loud music and took in all the people and visual stimulation of the event. Not to mention the funnel cakesÖ

But summer had a magic all its own.

Summer in Florida with little ones can be equal parts magical and terrifying. It’s pretty awesome to see kids experience new things like the beach or a pool for the first time, but it can be terrifying to expose such sensitive, tender skin to the sun. Weíve been back in Florida for two years, and in that time I’m proud to say neither of my kids has ever gotten sunburned ñ which is a minor miracle, since they both got my fair skin. Here are some ways we keep the sunshine under control around our house:

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Every morning during the summer, I put sunscreen on the kids as soon as they get dressed. There are very, very few days that we don’t end up outside at some point, and for infants, even just the few minutes spent going from one air-conditioned haven to the next can be too much exposure without protection. I got in the habit of slathering them down in the morning, to give a good base of lotion, and then putting more on whenever we were going to be directly in the sun for a while. A few things to keep in mind about sunscreen use:

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1. For infants, use a sunscreen that is made for babies, and with an SPF of at least 50. For best results (on babies, children, and adults!), apply sunscreen about 20 minutes BEFORE you go out in the sun. As a redhead, this is the single best advice I can give about sun care. It makes the most difference for me and my kids.

2. If you are going to be in the water, be sure you are using a waterproof sunscreen. Reapply sunscreen every hour (or every time the kids get out of the water). I don’t think you have to use it that often, but that’s the rule I stick with for my wee ones. If you can find it, using the spray sunscreen is a lot easier for wiggly babies and toddlers, but for newborns and infants, I always preferred the thick lotion. It wasn’t as shocking to them (that spray stuff can be cold!), and it’s a little easier to rub into their little nooks and crannies.

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Sunscreen will take you far, but there are other precautions you should take with infants in the sun. I limit the kids’ sun exposure to around half-hour increments when I’m able. Especially with newborns and infants under three months old, too much sun can be really harmful to their skin. I don’t necessarily make the kids go inside, but I do try to pull them into the shade for a little break. It’s a good time to get them to drink some water, too. Plus, bringing them in out of the sun for a few minutes every so often also gives me a chance to assess their skin and decide if they need more sunscreen or if we need to call it a day soon.

When I know we’re going to be in direct sunshine for a prolonged period of time (say, over an hour), I make the kids wear protective clothing. They usually always have on a hat and sunglasses (even Gracie wears them – and not just for style!), but I also make them wear sun-protective shirts when we’re out in the pool or at the beach. You can buy them at most places where they sell infant bathing suits. I usually get mine at Target for about $10 each. They make several different kinds of these shirts, but make sure you check for the ones that have UV protection. When I buy the kids a new bathing suit, I go ahead and pick up a matching sun shirt for them, too. One little step can make a big difference in sun exposure.

Summertime is such a great time of adventure and exploring. Just make sure you are doing it safely with your kids. Sunshine is wonderful, but in moderation. Trust my red head on this one!

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