It's not the visible rays of the sun that are dangerous for young children. It's the invisible ultraviolet rays that are harmful. These rays shine down on foggy and hazy days too. The best solution is to try to keep children out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Daylight Savings Time). Here are guidelines to follow if that's just not possible.

 

  • For children over 6 months old, use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Children with very fair skin need a higher SPF. Apply sunscreen half an hour before going outside.
  • Children should dress in lightweight cotton clothing, preferably long sleeves and pants.
  • Children need comfortable hats with wide brims.

Preventing Dehydration

Warm weather or not, it's important to make sure children do not get dehydrated. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are symptoms to check for:

Mildly or moderately dehydrated:

  • Urinates less frequently
  • Plays less than usual
  • Mouth is parched and dry
  • Fewer tears when crying
  • Sunken soft spot on the head

Severe dehydration

In addition to the symptoms above:

  • Extra fussy
  • Very sleepy
  • Eyes look sunken
  • Hands and feet are cool and discolored
  • Skin is wrinkled
  • Hasn't urinated in several hours

Dehydration can also be caused by diarrhea. If you think a child is moderately or severely dehydrated, call the parent and/or pediatrician immediately. This is an emergency health situation. The child should go to the emergency room where, in some cases, a commercial electrolyte solution will be given.

This article originally appeared in the May, 2001 issue of Early Childhood Today.