As the Water Babies mini-series draws to a close, I have to give a bit thank you and shout out to all the amazing individuals and businesses who have shared their stories, products and tips for promoting water safety with our little ones. The increase in child drownings in NSW alone over the last couple of months have really hit home for me personally – and for so many other families I know – that we really can’t underestimate the importance of remaining vigilant and reinforcing this “common sense” information.
For our second last post of the series, the amazing Founder of Rashoodz Swimwear, Laura Furiosi, shares her tips for keeping our kids sun and water safe no matter where they are (or what time of year it is!). Thanks for sharing your tips with us, Laura!
Sun safety and water safety go hand in hand and it is important to consider how one affects the other. When spending time around pools, oceans, lakes, rivers or any large bodies of water, it is important to consider how you are going to protect your bub from sun and water dangers. This blog will specifically discuss tips for keeping your child safe from the harsh Aussie sun, including the use of sunscreen on young children, water safety around pools, boats and open water, and preventing heat stress in babies and toddlers.
As a parent, it is important to ensure your child is safe from the sun on those family fun days out. Regardless of weather, the UV rays are already causing damage to your child’s skin. However, to avoid harmful damage to your baby or toddler, we have listed some handy tips for you. These includes staying in the shade or shelter wherever possible, sun safe clothing and UPF swimwear, large sun protective hats, UV eye wear, and sunscreen.
Sunscreen, protective clothing and your baby
As a baby’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than adult skin we must consider limiting what we put on them and therefore limiting what their little body absorbs. Instead of covering your baby in sunscreen, it is much more ideal to cover your baby in a breathable material that protects them from the sun. Then it is okay to apply “small” amounts of sunscreen to the area’s that are impossible to cover. This ensures that your baby is protected from the sun and only has a chance to absorb a small amount of the sunscreen.
The American Academy of Dermatology, The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Australian Cancer Council all agree that it is considered safe to use small amounts of sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months of age when they can’t be completely protected by shade and clothing. The baby and toddler swimwear brand Rashoodz Swimwear is designed so you only need to apply small amounts of sunscreen to their face, hands and below their knees. The baby rashsuit and attachable hat is made from UPF50+ material and takes away that worry of your babies delicate skin absorbing too much sunscreen. The attachable hat also allows the neck to be completely covered and therefore eliminating the need for sunscreen on their necks and ears. Skin cancer is a real and dangerous threat to all Aussies and because of this it is so important to look after your babies skin. That’s why Rashoodz Swimwear has designed a swimsuit to help parents look after their bub in the sun. We encourage, that when using sunscreen in conjunction with sun safe swimwear, parents make sure to read the directions and labels provided by that brand of sunscreen. As a general rule, apply 30 minutes before you are in direct sun. If you are swimming with your baby make sure to re-apply every hour or two as it will wash off.
Another safety concern when at the beach or pool is being prepared and vigilant with our young ones around water. We have listed some tips for water safety and encourage you to discuss these with your family, friends and neighbours. It is important to be aware of the potential hazards and dangers when in and around water.
Pool, Boat and Open Water Safety
- Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, close supervision by a responsible adult or/and a Life Guard is a must.
- Know how to swim yourself and perform CPR.
- Keep fence gates securely shut.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
- Enroll your baby and children in formal swimming instruction.
- If a child is missing, look for them in the pool or spa first.
- Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats, docks or near bodies of water.
- Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose and should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
- Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
- Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
- Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
- Never let your child swim in canals or any fast-moving water.
- Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
- Teach children about rip currents. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.
- When spending time around water be aware of the reflectiveness from the sun’s rays bouncing off the water and causing sunburn to the face or other areas.
As parents, we need to not only consider the overt safety risks but also the comfortability of our babies during these hot conditions. Babies and Toddlers are very sensitive to high temperatures. It is important to keep in mind that they rely on us to control what they are wearing, when they are drinking and the overall temperature. Listed is signs of heat stress, as well as tips on keeping bub cool during hot to extreme temperatures.
Some Signs of Heat Stress
- They may just look unwell or be more irritable than usual.
- Babies may seem floppy.
- They may have drier skin.
- Refusal to drink.
- Fewer wet nappies.
- The soft spot on top of a baby’s head (fontanelle) may also be lower than usual.
Tips on keeping baby cool in extreme temperatures
- Breast fed babies may need extra breast feeds.
- Bottle fed babies may need extra bottle feeds.
- Give toddlers extra drinks throughout the day (water is best).
- Dress babies in light coloured and light weight cool material (singlets and a nappy).
- Try and place them in the coolest spot in the house.
- Avoid traveling in the car as cars can heat up easily.
- Have a daytime bath (but always supervise).
- Stay out of the sun.
- Place a wet washer on their body but don’t let them get too cold.
So much has been discussed in this blog and it can be overwhelming, even daunting to take your baby or toddler to the beach or pool. But it would be un-Australian to stay away from a day by the water and we believe many amazing memories are made on days like these. Now you are informed and have all the tools to be prepared you can enjoy a relaxed time, knowing you’ve got your child covered and safe. Always stay informed with new information around sun and water safety and make sure to demonstrate and model these practices to your children. Don’t forget to come visit us at www.rashoodz.com.au for more on sun safety and great products for protecting your bub!