Insect repellents containing DEET are most effective against ticks (transmitters of Lyme disease) and mosquitoes (carriers of West Nile virus), and they’re safe for babies 2 months and older, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Use a product with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET, and wash it off once inside. Another option: Cutter insect repellent. It contains picaridin, an odorless and nontoxic chemical that has been proven nearly as effective as DEET.
Remove a stinger by scraping it horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail, making sure not to squeeze, then apply a cold pack or ice to minimize swelling. If there are large areas of swelling or redness, or your baby has difficulty breathing, take him to the ER or call 911, says Dorothy A. Drago, M.P.H., author of From Crib to Kindergarten: The Essential Child Safety Guide (The Johns Hopkins University Press). To avoid attracting insects, don’t use perfumed lotions on your baby or dress her in flowery prints.
Heat stroke and sunburn
Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible, well hydrated and dressed in lightweight clothing. And don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, says Omaha, Neb.-based pediatrician Laura Jana, M.D., co-author of Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality (American Academy of Pediatrics). “Children who are exposed to these items as young babies are more tolerant of them,” she says. On areas that can’t be covered, such as the face and backs of hands, sunscreen is OK— even for babies 6 months and younger. Make sure it has an SPF 15 or higher and protects against UVA and UVB rays.
Protect those Peepers
A baby who is old enough to go outdoors is old enough to wear sunglasses. “The earlier you protect babies’ eyes, the lower the risk for cataracts or macular degeneration later in life,” says Stuart Dankner, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist in Baltimore and chairman of the Maryland Society for Sight’s Eye Safety Committee. Look for styles that comfortably stay on your baby’s head and are labeled 100 percent UV protective or 100 percent UVA and UVB protective.