“I really love it when families get outside,” said Dr. Jeremy Granger, a pediatrician with Boys Town Pediatrics and a dad of two with an active lifestyle. “Good habits start early.”
An essential one is protecting skin from the sun.
“Sunscreen is a must,” the physician said. “The earlier in life you get your first sunburn, the higher your risk of skin cancer in your lifetime.”
His recommendation: Apply sunscreen to exposed skin before heading out the door and repeat every two hours while outside.
But not just any sunscreen. “Some sunscreens contain chemicals that are bad for kids,” the physician said. (Find product ratings from the Environmental Working Group at ewg.org).
Granger also recommends avoiding outdoor walks between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays can do the most damage. And dress your child in loose-fitting clothing that blocks the sun’s rays but isn’t too hot.
“Children get warm riding in a stroller.” Check on your little passenger every 15 or 20 minutes,” Granger said.
Offer your child a drink and look for red blotches on his or her skin that might indicate the start of a sunburn and the need to head indoors. Slow responsiveness, dry mouth and dry lips are signs that your child is dehydrated and needs a cool drink.
“I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to safety,” said Granger, who takes his 3-year-old and 1-year-old on stroller outings to Chalco Hills and Zorinsky Lake recreation areas several times a week, weather permitting.
Pedestrians and motorists know when they’re in their path, thanks to reflector tape and a small flashing light on the stroller. “If you think about it, you’re putting your child out front” in the stroller, he said. “Buckle up and be safe!”
WHAT TO TOTE
Don’t leave home without these doctor-recommended essentials in your day pack.
• Sunscreen, SPF 50 or higher
• Sunglasses, especially if you’ll be near water
• Hat, to protect against heat and sunburn
• Hydration (iced formula or breast milk, or water, depending on your child’s age)
• Light blanket or muslin for shade
• Diapers and changing wipes, if you’ll be out more than an hour. Make sure to have a small garbage bag handy if waste receptacles aren’t nearby.
• Small toy or book, in case your travel buddy gets antsy
• Fresh fruit, vegetables or a non-carb snack