Summer hasn’t even started and weather is getting very hot already. According to The Weather Channel, some areas of the U.S. have to wait until September to reach their highest temperatures. This means there’s plenty of time for fun left, but it’s also important to keep summer safety in mind. Here’s how to keep your child cool and cute:
Grab a light wardrobe
Kids’ fashion has come a long way, so you have the chance to get really creative. You can dress your toddler like a super-chic Anna Wintour in the making, or grab a sleeveless flannel shirt and some baby Doc Martens for a mini-punk look. Just make sure the clothes you choose are summer-appropriate. The right cuts and fabric keep your child cool and help prevent heat-related illnesses.
When shopping for a summer wardrobe, choose loose, breezy fabrics made from 100 percent cotton. Avoid dark colors like black and navy; such hues absorb heat, increasing your little one’s body temperature. Opt for sturdy footwear with thick soles, especially if your toddler likes to climb and explore.
Also, if you plan to stay home all day and aren’t expecting any visitors, feel free to let your child run around naked! Just make sure to lather your baby up with sunscreen before going into the backyard – clothes or no clothes. The Environmental Working Group has a list of 19 baby sunscreen products with top ratings, so your summer safety regimen won’t include any harsh chemicals.
Guard against bugs and poisonous plants
Bug bites and the itchy, inflamed skin they leave behind are probably the least-liked aspect of summer. What’s worse, the number of insects infected with diseases is on the rise. This past June, a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an increased number of disease-carrying mosquitoes were seen across the southern U.S. this year. These insects are known for spreading Zika virus, West Nile virus, Dengue fever and many other illnesses.
If you live in a grassy or wooded area, you must also look out for ticks. These pesky bloodsuckers are notorious for spreading Lyme disease, which affects the joints, heart and nervous system if left untreated. Additionally, toddlers that are allergic to bee stings need to be exceptionally careful in spring and summer.
To keep your toddler safe from insects, coat your child with an insect repellant. The brand you choose doesn’t matter, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repellant with at least 10 percent DEET, the active ingredient. A higher concentration doesn’t increase your child’s protection; the repellant just lasts longer. A product with 10 percent DEET lasts for about two hours, while one with 30 percent lasts around five hours.
Below are a few other bug safety tips:
- Ditch scented soaps and sprays, which might attract insects, for fragrance-free versions.
- Avoid areas where bugs tend to nest, including pools of water (mosquitos), summer-blooming flowers (bees) and wooded areas (ticks).
- Stay inside during mornings and evenings when gnats and mosquitos are most active.
Prevent heat-related illnesses
According to the CDC, children under 4 are most at risk for developing a heat-related illness. These ailments include heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and symptoms range from small red blisters to nausea, headaches and possible loss of consciousness.
Of course, as with any medical condition, prevention is always best. Use the following tips to improve your toddler’s summer safety and avoid heat-related illnesses:
- Dress your toddler in breathable, lightweight clothing that’s light in color.
- Use cool, but not cold, water when bathing your child.
- Stay indoors when it’s overly sunny and warm. Sunlight is strongest at noon, but the temperature doesn’t reach its peak until about 3 p.m.
- Give your toddler plenty of access to cool (not cold) water.
- Never leave your child in a parked car, even if the window is open.
Enjoying the last bit of summer
Summer is officially over by the end of September. Choose the right clothes, grab a bottle of baby sunscreen, protect yourselves from bugs and heat, and you’re all set to enjoy the season safely.
Even though some of my mothering skills came naturally, like realizing I could nurse my newborn son, Conrad, while walking up the spiral staircase, my confidence as a new mom was hard-won. I always assumed there was a book, or a gadget, or one of Angelina Jolie’s nannies, who knew how to do everything better than I could. Worse, I thought my lack of mothering-nerve was a blemish on the image of the perfect mom I wanted to be. (I hadn’t yet realized that trying to be perfect was ridiculous.) I kept my insecurities to myself and continued to shop for stuff I didn’t need and buy tomes that were better used as stacking blocks.
Then I got a card from an older family friend, and all she wrote was this: “One day you will feel like you know what you’re doing.” Six years, many mistakes, and another baby boy later, I do. But that card let me start to trust myself more every day. Well, dear reader, consider this your own card from an old friend. We’ve gathered the best, most ingenious it-worked-for-me tips from moms and childcare experts to help you sail, not sob, through all the small but significant day-to-day acts of being a mom. Confidence, here you come.
3 Insta-Soothers You Can Count On
Try The Triple Play Rub lavender essential oil on the back of your neck for a calming scent (feel free to swipe your kid’s Johnson & Johnson lotion). Then wrap your baby in a blanket and gently bounce on a fitness ball or the edge of the bed, suggests Jill Wodnick, a doula in Montclair, NJ, and mother of Nathaniel, 7, Sebastian, 4, and Emerson, 2.
Head To the Loo Need help fast? Run the bathroom fan and faucet. Low, droning noises remind your little one of hearing your heartbeat in utero, says Dr. Altmann, mother of Avrick, 4, and Collen, 2.
Create a Toddler Cocoon “When toddlers throw tantrums, they often need to block out stimulation in order to calm down,” says Corinne G. Catalano, school psychologist at the Ben Samuels Children’s Center at Montclair State University. So instead of picking up your tot, make a “cave” or cocoonlike space by throwing a blanket over a small table and allowing him to climb under it. If you’ve got a pop-up kid tent, that will work, too. Give him his lovey and a pillow, and he’ll have the soothing sanctuary he needs to regroup.
Help the Medicine Go Down (or In)
Who hasn’t squirted Motrin into her toddler’s ear when he’s putting up a feverish fight? Take a cue from Mary Poppins and mix a dose of medicine with chocolate syrup, suggests Tanya Altmann, M.D., author of Mommy Calls. For toddlers and older babies on solid foods, medicine will seem like a treat! Another option: Refrigerate OTC meds. Cold can mask the taste. For eyedrops, lay your baby on her back and put a toy on her belly so she’ll look down. If she’s old enough to follow directions, just tell her to close her eyes. Place a drop on the inner corner of the eye, right by her nose. When she looks up or opens her eye, the drop will fall right in. (Works for drowsing pets, too!)
10 Things You Never Knew You Could Do With One Hand
feed a pet
wrap a present using a mini-shopping bag, tissue, and a stick-on bow
brush an older child’s hair
fold baby clothes and put back in drawers
repot a plant
write thank-you notes
whip up a smoothie
tend to husband’s personal needs (if you know what we mean)
Happier Hair Washing
Turn this often torturous process into something your toddler will look forward to: Treat her to a salon visit right in your own home, suggests Parenting Mom Squad expert Denene Millner, of Snellville, GA. What to do:
1. Talk in a fancy voice and ask her to lie down on the kitchen counter, with her head hanging over the sink, just like she would if she were sitting in the shampoo chair at a salon.
2. Roll Up a towel and ut it under her neck for support.
3. Let her lean back and enjoy. Use your fingers to give her a head massage while you shampoo.
4. Rinse, wrap hair up in a turban.
5. Accept kisses as tips.
Better Bangs: The unfortunate hallmark of an at-home trim is poorly cut bangs. The secret? Don’t cut them from ear to ear. Instead, trim them in from the outside edge of each eyebrow.
Car Seats on the Fly
Many a parent has suffered a long flight with a crying baby only to discover that she can’t get the car seat out of the airplane seat. Because airline seatbelts open with a pull lever, the belt can easily get wedged in the car-seat back once it has been tightened. If you can’t pull the lever, well, you’re stuck. Avoid this problem with two solutions that are FAA compliant: Ask your airline attendant for a seat-belt extender, suggests Troy Lanier, coauthor of DadLabs Guide to Fatherhood. The extender attaches to and lengthens the belt so you can reach the buckle when deplaning. If you can’t get their attention in time, simply turn the buckle over so that the clasp opens in a different direction.
How to Defuse Road Rage
We’ve all been there: You’re making great time on a trip home from the mall and then, bam!, traffic. Your child, who was happy moving at 50 miles per hour, is hysterical when your speedometer drops below 10. Some quick tricks to avoid crying jags.
Turn on cool tunes As soon as you see a stream of brake lights ahead, pop in a customized CD that sings your child’s name in every stanza ($14.95 to $19.95; mymusiccd.com). “When my girls hear their names in a song, they instantly stop crying,” says Tomlin, who’s the author of Chaos 2 Calm: The Moms of Multiples’ Guide to an Organized Family and mom of 3-year-old twins, Peyton and Sydney.
Dial it in Low-tone cell-phone ringtones can be calming, says Catalano. And that’s why when Nancy Caron’s 18-month-old son, Parker, is inconsolable, she whips out her cell phone and plays tones that are heavy on the drum and bass. (If she’s in the driver’s seat, she pulls over first!)
Stash some magnets Dig out an old metal cake pan or small cookie sheet and load it up with large magnetic pictures or letters (they should be larger than 1 3/4 inches in diameter). The magic of magnetism can keep them entertained for hours (okay…many, many minutes).
3 Nighttime Tips
Think Big To avoid 2 a.m. diaper leaks, Brooke Harmon of Phoenix puts her son in a diaper one size up: “It absorbs all the pee and never makes a mess.”
Go Backward Tonia Tomlin of Plano, TX, got so tired of her twin daughters’ late-night ritual of ripping off their pj’s that she put their footless zip-up sleepers on backward.
Do Diaper Prep Pre-fill newborn dipes with ointment before bed to save time during middle-of-the-night changes.
Better Mothering Through Technology
Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss, authors of The Rookie Mom’s Handbook, offer up four ways to convert your iPhone into the ultimate mother’s helper.
Make It a Baby Monitor You’re at a dinner party and are worried you won’t hear your sleeping baby in your host’s bedroom. Download the application at codegoo.com/page/baby-monitor($4.99), then stash your phone near the babe. If he stirs, your phone will call a number you’ve chosen (e.g., Daddy’s cell).
Let it Lull Download the white-noise ambient application ($1.99; tmsoft.com/iphone-whitenoise.html) and place the phone in your baby’s car seat or stroller. The app also offers a variety of sounds, including some as quietly calming as lapping waves and rain.
Turn it into a Tracker Log your baby’s diaper changes and feedings with the applications at andesigned.net (99¢, $7.99). Both store a history of your data, in case you need to share it with your doctor.
Have it Wooo Them Download the Wooo Button (iphoneappreviews.net/2008/08/01/wooo-button). It’s simple: You press a button and a man shouts “Wooo!” Kids love it, and it’s so harmlessly addictive that you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Now that you have a kid, you’ll never get to go to the bathroom alone again. How to master the pee-and-feed with ease.
1. Wear elastic-waist pants or a comfy skirt you can lift with one hand.
2. Get the babe happily latched on.
3. Do your business.
4. Flush later—no need to chance a startle.
Tasty Teething Trick
Frozen washcloths are great, but your baby may stay at it longer and get more relief if you add some flavor into the mix. Try putting large chunks of these in a mesh teether:
Sour pickles (surprised? kids adore all things tangy)
Stand-Up Comedy (aka the Vertical Diaper Change)
1. Wrap one arm around your child’s belly to hold him still, then tear off the old dipe.
2. Ask him to touch his toes if he can, then use your free hand to wipe.
3. Place new diaper over the front of his body, push it through his legs, and then over his butt.
4.Secure tabs. Hike it up gently, then adjust tabs again if necessary.
Don’t Give Them An Audience
One thing that helped me when my daughter went through this phase was to make sure she didn’t have an audience for her tantrum. I’d put her in her room. If she screamed for an hour, she screamed for an hour; I would not enter the room or call for her to be quiet. Eventually, she would tire out. At first she would try to come out of her room, but I would pick her up and carry her back. The first time she came out, I’d say, “Stay in your room until I give you permission to come out.” If she came out after that, I would simply pick her up, carry her to her room and place her there without saying a word or giving any sort of facial expression to indicate my frustration. Sometimes it took several times, but eventually, she learned that I could be more stubborn than she is and she gave up.-Maggie
Talk Him Through It
It’s hard for children to understand at this age, but they need to learn that they can’t always have what they want. My 19-month-old has thrown some horrible tantrums. He doesn’t hit or try to hurt me, but he will try to push me away. He gets extremely distressed – there’s nothing fake about it. I’ve found that he’s usually upset because he is trying to get something across to me that he just doesn’t have the words for yet. Most of the time, if I talk to him calmly and start going over things with him, I hit on what he’s trying to communicate and he lets me know that I got it right. Then I go over the word he needs, over and over, until he starts trying to repeat it to me. Sometimes I just can’t let him do or have what he wants and he still gets upset, but not for nearly as long as he would have. At those times that I can’t please him, I tell him why he can’t have or do what he wants, and leave it at that. – Sarah S.
Your son is at an age where he wants to be independent, but physically he just isn’t able to. Try letting him take part in some of the decisions you make for him, like picking out his clothes or which veggies to serve with dinner. If you don’t want him to be totally in charge of these things, let him pick between two choices that you find acceptable. This will make him feel as if he has a voice and some control over what happens to him. Under age 2 is still kind of young to understand what a time-out is, but a minute to cool out can be very effective. – Jessica H.
The Expert Opinion
When it comes to toddler tantrums, one of the most important things to remember is that children are born with a limited ability to control their emotions, especially when they are upset. “They are like tiny cavemen,” says Dr. Harvey Karp, creator of the book and DVD “The Happiest Toddler on The Block.” “We have to teach toddlers how to be civilized and handle their emotions.”
Dr. Karp discourages time-outs for tantrums. “You may need to punish a child’s behavior, but emotions shouldn’t be punished unless the child is being disruptive or aggressive.” Instead, he encourages parents to speak “toddler-ese” to help their little ones navigate through the tantrum. This means speaking like your toddler – using short phrases and repetition, and mirroring the child’s tone of voice and gestures to acknowledge the emotion. Most important, don’t distract, yell or talk overly calmly to the toddler in the midst of a meltdown. “Just like adults, toddlers have a hard time recovering from their upsets until their feelings have been acknowledged,” says Dr. Karp. Talking calmly could frustrate a child, because it does not effectively communicate that you are acknowledging his feelings.
If a toddler continues to tantrum, practice the ‘kind ignore” – after you speak toddler-ese, step away for a few seconds (to take away the audience) and then come back and repeat your words of acknowledgement. Continue the cycle of going away and coming back until the child begins to calm down.