A Safe Summer with your Kids
The winter deep freeze that kept my chatty and spirited two-year-old and myself locked in the clutches of cabin fever is now a distant memory. We can finally go outside! The warm sunshine is cascading down on us and now our little ones won’t have to be poured into bulky snow pants that make them traipse through the snow like miniature robots. Tiny toes won’t be jammed into wooly socks and big bulky boots; instead they’ll be dipping into lakes and splash pads around the city. Here’s a look at some ways to make your summer not only full of frolicking fun, but safe for your little ones:
First of all, experts say it’s best to schedule outdoor summer activities for morning and evening hours as the sun is as its hottest in the afternoon. For our toddler, we usually finish the day off with a lukewarm-to-cool bath to keep her comfortable during these months, especially on those days that are sizzlers.
Sun Protection: Sunscreen and Lids
In the spirit of summer, it’s time to dig out the swim diapers and slather our kids with sunscreen. The thing about sunscreen is that as a busy mom who’s always running out the door with a million things on my mind and in my hand, I always remember the sunscreen AFTER the shoes have been put on and the stroller is outside. Frustratingly, habit has cruelly taught me that I usually remember to put sunscreen on those little limbs only at the precise moment I’m about to leave the house. I found a little trick that works in my absent-mommy-minded favour: I buy three tubes of sunscreen for my little one. One tube I keep upstairs (where I change my toddler’s clothes), the second I keep on a shelf next to the front door. The last tube I keep in my bag because more often than not, I’ll remember it when we’re on the road or already at the park. Remember that you shouldn’t put sunscreen on infants under the age of six months. Instead, dress them in comfortable, loose, light-coloured clothes that cover their skin.
Hats are another item we try not to leave the house without, especially during bright summer scorchers. My kid has multiple lids, just like her daddy and myself. We’re indeed a chapeau loving family. Besides the need for stylish expression, those natty toppers are a great protection against the sun. I always keep an extra cotton hat that folds easily in my diaper bag.
In Toronto, most of the splash pads in the city opened in May, and the wading pools will open closer to the end of June. With those soft, delicate baby feet curiously splashing and padding around on wet concrete in heavily trafficked public areas, I invested in a pair of water shoes for my two-year-old. This was so that she doesn’t get poked by sharp debris. You can pick these up at any retail store or specialty store that sell kids’ shoes.
We didn’t want our little girl to have a fear of water, and these splash pads and wading pools around the city were a great way to get her used to it on the days we couldn’t make it to the swimming pool. We started taking her to the neighbourhood pool when she was around six months old. When we do splash around in the pool, we make sure we put her in a floaty or life jacket, so she gets used to the feeling of having one on and it hopefully becomes second nature.
Epic Safe Summer Walkabouts
Once we have our gear we’re ready to go. My daddy friend, Kiron, who is the father of two kids both under the age of three, has an affordable and fun way to explore the city in the lazy days of summer. His family of four do full-day Epic Walkabouts. The Toronto family plans to leave their house on foot in the morning or afternoon and hit parks and interesting pathways that lead them to a single destination like the AGO or Wychwood Barns. During these marathon walkabouts, it’s a good early opportunity to teach their two-year-old son about red and green stop lights as well as the importance of looking both ways before crossing. All this while exploring their own neighbourhood and new ones on foot.
A day trip like this calls for packing healthy snacks, lots of water, and possibly a small portable picnic lunch to have in the park. It’s also a great reason to invest in some good walking shoes for parents who usually don’t really have time to hit the gym.
Another dad Jason, in Calgary, loves hitting the campsites with his family. During these trips, they make sure they find a camping spot next to the water, and spend the day setting up the campsite. Jason suggests investing in a pair of burn-oculars for some nature trail adventures. His seven-year-old son’s favourite thing to do when he’s not roasting marshmallows at sundown, is to peer through those binoculars during the day. One of the simple joys of childhood is spotting things you’ve never seen before, so with a help of binoculars, bird watching has become a thrill for his little one.
Here are some more tips to keep your child safe and having fun in the sun this summer:
- Summer Safety – SafeKid.org
- Summer Spotlight – Kidshealth.org
- Child Summer Safey Rules – Parents.com