Summer is well and truly here, bringing with it summer holidays, warmer weather, and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors.
For parents, this means that extra steps must be taken to keep our children safe and healthy.
For some advice from an expert, we reached out to Dr. Catherine Yue, a Pediatrician at Jiahui Health, for some tips on how to keep our kids healthy throughout the summertime.
In the summertime, the weather becomes hot and humid, bringing with it many seasonal illnesses that can affect your child.
The most common illnesses are caused by viruses and bacteria. It is recommended that parents be aware of gastroenteritis that may be caused by eating outside, or poor hygiene at restaurants. It is important to always be careful about where you eat, and never leave food sitting in the heat.
Other common infections are caused by swimming pools. Swimming in poorly-maintained swimming pools can result in sinusitis and ear infections. Only visit pools that are clean and have been well-maintained.
Additionally, both heatstroke and skin rashes (such as allergic reactions or bug bites) are common in summer. Be careful in the sun, use sunscreen and insect repellent, and ensure you have mosquito screens in your house.
It is recommended that you have the following children's medicines on hand during the summer:
Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (i.e. Motrin, Advil) for fevers or to reduce inflammation and pain.
Cold packs for physical cooling for younger children.
Oral rehydration solutions and probiotics for gastrointestinal disorders.
Montmorillonite to help to stop diarrhea.
Antibiotic ointment for skin infections.
Hydrocortisone cream for itchy bites and rashes.
And, if possible, always carry the following with you:
Band-aids or bandages of assorted sizes for minor cuts.
Children should eat a balanced diet at all times, including vegetables, fruits, protein-based foods, and carbohydrates.
It is recommended to give children more foods and drinks that are rich in vitamin C during the summer months. This includes:
Diluted pure orange juice (50% juice / 50% water)
Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
Children who have an adequate amount of dairy products and protein-based foods in their diet are not likely to be calcium deficient.
However, if children do not get sufficient exposure to sunlight, it is encouraged that children under the age of one year old should take 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, and children over one-year-old should take 600 IU of vitamin D per day.
It is recommended to put sunscreen on children over the age of six months old 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Make sure that children wear a sun hat and long-sleeved top to prevent sunburn when playing outside.
The recommended sunscreen for children is broad-spectrum (i.e. protects against both UVA and UVB light), water-resistant, and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 50.
Infants under six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight, if possible.
Time in the Sun
To ensure that children produce sufficient levels of vitamin D in their skin, infants above the age of six months old and small children should be exposed to sunlight for 30 to 60 minutes a day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants under six months old be kept out of the sun entirely, if possible.
Older infants and toddlers can handle some sun, but only if adequately protected. Between 10am and 4pm, the sun is at its strongest, so it is best to avoid being outdoors with your little one during that time.
When the temperature outside reaches 32 degrees Celsius, it is recommended that children stay indoors until it cools down outside.
Be very careful about taking a baby outside in temperatures above 38 degrees Celsius, because it can be potentially hazardous to little bodies.
To avoid heatstroke...
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
Go outside when the sun is low and the temperature is at its coolest to protect against sunburn.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Keep the temperature inside your home cool.
Find air-conditioned public spaces.
Never leave your child in a parked car.
If your child is suffering from heatstroke...
Take your child to a cooler place indoors, an air-conditioned car, or a shady area.
Remove your child's excess clothing.
Encourage your child to drink water or cool fluids containing salt and sugar, such as sports drinks.
Put a cool, wet cloth or cool water on your child's skin.
If your child has fainted, is having difficulty drinking, or keeps vomiting, they need to be taken to the hospital as soon as possible.
Moles & Sun Spots
If a mole changes shape; looks uneven; changes color or gets darker; starts itching, crusting, flaking, or bleeding; or gets larger or more raised, you need to visit a pediatrician or dermatologist.
Keeping your child's skin clean and moisturized is very important. It is recommended that parents select products that are low in chemical additives and are hypoallergenic.
In most cases, mosquitoes bite people but do not spread germs. Very few mosquitoes are harmful and spread viruses.
However, it is important to note that encephalitis, meningitis, and other diseases can develop from the bites of infected mosquitoes.
Over and above this, mosquitoes are annoying and their bites are uncomfortable.
So, while you shouldn't panic if your child gets bitten, it is recommended to use repellent when outside and use mosquito screens and nets to keep them out of the house.
Safeguard Against Injury
Drowning, burns, and falls are the most common accidents that occur during the summer. Ways to prevent child injuries:
Before children swim or play in the water, make sure they have safety equipment such as life jackets, and select a safe swimming area.
The kitchen can be a dangerous place. Parents should install smoke and gas alarms in the home and make sure their children have a basic knowledge of fire safety and how to escape in case of a fire. Parents and children are also encouraged to participate in fire escape drills to develop children's fire prevention and self-rescue skills.
Immediately after a burn or scald, the injured area should be flushed with cool water, and it is not advisable to pick the blister yourself.
How can we regulate our children’s sleep patterns during the longer days of summer? (And prevent them from waking up too early on sunny mornings!) Here are a few tips...
Stick to the same bedtime schedule every day.
Make the bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.
Keep the temperature in the bedroom cool.
Avoid overstimulation before bedtime, and turn off screens 30 minutes prior to going to bed.
Keep a regular aerobic exercise schedule, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime.
Be active and social during the day rather than late at night.
Children under 5 years old can have a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon.
Summer camps allow children to expand their knowledge and develop their independent living skills.
They help children to become more optimistic, confident, creative, and exploratory, and are also good for developing children’s interpersonal communication and teamwork skills.
Plus, keeping the kids busy might just keep you parents sane!
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[All images courtesy of Jiahui Health]