Whether this is your first summer with baby in tow or you’re a seasoned parent looking ahead to the sweltering months in trepidation, you might need to hear this: it’s going to be great. With a new season comes a whole new set of boundaries, cautions, and equipment when babies and toddlers are considered, but with these few things in mind, this summer will be the best your family has ever seen!
1. Loosely Plan
Summer is beloved for the lack of structure, but babies don’t always thrive in constant change of routine. We all want the spontaneity of summer fun but for baby’s (and mom’s!) sanity, a routine is helpful. Balance is that illusive thing we’re all aiming for and probably will never perfectly achieve, but the goal itself leads families to a healthier and happier place, so it’s worth the effort! Try your best to honour baby’s nap and feeding schedule, but aim not to let it tie you down too tightly. This is especially essential if you also have older toddlers or children at home. Plan for naps to be at the park in their covered stroller or tent and find a shady spot for a nursing session or meal. Try to keep baby in rhythm by maintaining her schedule, but do your best to allow for a change of scenery and fun in the sun. Maybe this seems impossible, but even if it’s just a mindset shift, you’re in good shape. Keep the big blocks in place this summer – wake time, feed times, naps – but get out and enjoy the warmth and human interaction that summer allows.
2. Fun Freebies
Especially with the unpredictability of little ones, events that cost little or nothing rank high on our list. Who wants to pay high admission fees for an activity that can be so easily thrown by the younger participants? Look for free activities like wading pools, splash pads, public swimming pools, parks, beaches, museums (most are free general admission or at least have a free day), parades, and food festivals. If no one is teething or gassy, great, but if you find yourself needing to head home earlier than expected due to a toddler tantrum or baby’s fussiness, no worries!
3. Safety First
Staying safe in the summer generally requires three things – sun protection, heat protection, and water safety. Of course, children are brilliant at finding danger so there’s only so much parents can do, but if we’re on top of these three things, we’re off to a great start.
Starting with sunscreen for babies over 6 months, make sure your children are well covered and reapply every hour or after swimming. Hats are essential for keeping their faces protected from the sun and also staying cool. If your baby is hat-averse as mine all were, find one with a chin strap. Full coverage swimsuits are a great option, if not rash guards to go over regular swimsuits.
Always pack extra water bottles for the whole family. Fill them up half way and freeze them to make a giant ice cube so the water isn’t just hydrating but also refreshing as you refill again and again. Don’t offer your toddlers juice in the summer – the sugar dehydrates them, not to mention attracts bees – but always have water as a ready option.
Water safety may not seem urgent if you’re only in a kiddie pool, but the terrifying reality is that babies and young children can drown in very shallow water. Always be within an arms distance from a child in water and never leave unsupervised. Flotation devices bring peace of mind, especially in deeper water such as pools or lakes.
4. Frozen Goodness
To beat the heat we love frozen foods and toys in the summer! Blend up a healthy smoothie (i.e. frozen banana, protein powder, spinach, strawberry, almond milk) and instead of serving in a glass, use popsicle forms to make healthy popsicles. My kids aren’t always in the mood for a smoothie, but they’ve never turned down the frozen counterpart! The same goes for toys. Freeze various objects (plastic toy animals, marbles, sea shells, etc.) in a large container of water. Once completely frozen, have your toddler pick away at the block of ice to “discover” the hidden treasures. This takes hours and is the perfect refreshing game on a humid day!
5. Keep Perspective
The summer months are so special and they fly by. As I write this, we are packing up my oldest child (age 8) for a week at sleepaway camp. It’s her first summer going to camp and I can’t believe we’re already here! Wasn’t she a baby splashing about in the patio water table yesterday? Our family photo albums are thickest in the summer section, and there’s good reason that most of our favourite family memories take place during these hot months too. Summertime is prime time and we can’t hold on to our babies forever. Enjoy these fleeting, warm months with your little one, before you know it, we’ll be cold and they’ll be old!