by Sarah on 11. July 2012 in
Summer is definitely here, and the heat has undoubtedly arrived! With a three-year-old on my hands, we spend a fair share of our time outside...particularly at the pool. Also in tow on our summertime outings is my infant, whose safety I have worried about when partaking in the fun. So…I looked to several resources for answers…and was surprised by some of the information that I found. I think now my infant can be safer in these conditions, and hopefully yours can, too!
Q: When are babies old enough to get in the pool?
There are a few reasons why it is recommended that young infants stay out of the pool. First, it is important to recognize that chlorine doesn’t kill all bacteria. Infants have a higher vulnerability to illness, and therefore have a higher chance of picking up a yucky bug from the swimming pool. Baby’s skin and eyes are also more sensitive to chlorine, so it’s a good idea to avoid heavily chlorinated pools. Also, an important factor to consider before letting baby take a dip is the temperature of the pool water. It is important that the pool water is warm enough because babies aren’t yet able to fully regulate their body temperature. A pool needs to be somewhere around 84-86 degrees (F) to be comfortable. Also, hot tubs and pools that are more than 100 degrees (F) are off limits to babies and children under five years old.
Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and co-author of Heading Home with Your Newborn has this to say on the matter, "There's no exact age when it becomes safe to take a baby into a swimming pool, and I wouldn't tell parents never to take a young baby swimming, as long as they take these factors into consideration. For a rough guideline, though, 6 months and up is a safer time than infancy to take a baby for a dip."
Q: Can my baby wear sunscreen?
The answer is no…and yes. Let’s explain…
There are baby sunscreens on the market, but it is advised that you do not use them on babies under six months of age. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently suggested that they are probably safe for children younger than six months on small areas, like the face and hands. It is best to choose a non-chemical sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that just sit on top of the skin rather than those that are absorbed. It is not certain that chemical sunscreens will harm babies, but there are still a lot of unknowns about them and their effect on infants- so it’s probably best to avoid them. You may want to check out Neutrogena’s Pure and Free Baby Sunblock Lotion …made to accommodate baby’s sensitive skin while blocking the sun.
Obviously, the best way to protect your baby’s sensitive skin is to keep them in the shade or indoors. However, if your baby is going to be in the sun, there are things other than sunscreen that you can do to keep them protected. Dressing your baby in things like long sleeved swim shirts and large brimmed hats is a good place to start.
Q: What things should I be doing to make sure my baby isn’t overheating?
Because of the inability to fully regulate body temperature, it is vital to take extra precautions to help baby beat the heat. Always remember to provide good ventilation. Babies don’t perspire effectively yet, so never have a baby in a hot room or hot car with poor circulation for very long.
It’s also important to keep your baby hydrated (see below), and if they looked flushed, have warm skin, breathe rapidly, or become restless…it’s time to hydrate and find a cooler place as these could be signs of dehydration.
In the heat, also take extra caution when putting babies in car seats and strollers. Always check them before putting your baby in to avoid burns from hot seat buckles and to prevent overheating.
Keep in mind that you should never let a baby sleep in a room that’s too hot. A fan or air conditioner should always be running with a baby in the house, but remember to never put a fan blowing directly on your baby. Another important fact to be aware of is that, although there are still so many unknowns about SIDS, it has been suggested that when babies are too hot in their sleep, the chance of SIDS is greater. If your baby is exposed to heat, giving them a sponge bath or bathing them in lukewarm water is a great way to help them cool down.
Q: How do I keep my baby properly hydrated?
Although babies don’t sweat much, they still loose fluids in hot weather. It is recommended that baby’s fluids are increased by 50% on hot days. With this said, it is important to know that infants should not drink water until they are at least six months old. Drinking straight water interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients in breast milk/formula, and can also lead to a serious condition called Water Intoxication . Simply replace lost liquids with extra formula or nursing more frequently.
American Academy of Pediatrics
What to Expect