With the arrival of the summer the kids will no doubt be desperate to play outside with their friends and have some fun in the sun. However, there needs to be certain measures taken into account when allowing your children to play outdoors, especially in summertime.
Playing outdoors is important, for toddlers in particular, but so is protecting them from the sun and the heat. It can be difficult, as a parent, on just how much time a child should be allowed to be out in it. There is a danger leaving young children out for extended periods of time in exposure to intense heat. Coupled with their activities it can lead to serious problems.
It's common knowledge that the sun contains harmful ultra violet (UV) rays. However, sometimes it’s easy to overlook this when dealing with your already busy schedules, your children's play-dates and the ever-increasing madness of summer. Summer conditions can end up having a lasting negative effects to a child's health. Now we’re not saying you need to be overly-protective and neurotic when it comes to a child’s outdoor playtime. This is the furthest thing from what we believe.
Children should be able to experience freedom and fun, and no time is better for that than in summer. You just need to supervise them and protect them accordingly.
So the first question is; how long should parents’ allow their children to play outside?
Well, if you’re adequately prepared there are ways in which you can effectively judge playtime length. The amount of time a toddler should spend outside really depends on the parents, the temperature and the amount of effective shade covering.
Have sunscreen with you if you’re taking them to the beach or to the park and be sure to apply it to their skin at least 15 minutes prior to their going out in it. You know the drill – noses, faces, neck and arms, any exposed area that is susceptible to being burnt. Reapply sunscreen every two hours while outside in the sun, more frequently for anyone who has spent time in the water.
Always carry water with you, either in a big bottle or in individual bottles. Children tend to dehydrate quickly and due to their fast-paced energy fail to realise when they have been overdoing it. This is where you need to step in and make sure they drink enough fluids to keep their bodies hydrated.
Get them to wear a hat to help shield their head, forehead and face from direct exposure too, whether they want to or not!
In high heat, try to limit your child’s playtime to short intervals with rests in between in the shade. The sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm, so it’s the time to be most aware. Many outdoor playtimes take place in the morning or early afternoons.
Try and prepare some activities and games to keep toddlers under the cover of shade more often. Parks are good as they have plenty of tree shade but at beaches it’s best to bring a beach umbrella along.
The children are anxious for summer to come into full swing as they get tie off school and more time to play with friends in good weather. Encourage it always, but make sure you are keeping an eye on them and protecting their bodies from sun exposure and the sweltering heat that is to come.