The sun has arrived at last, but hurry, it may not last long! On a hot day, with beating sunshine, it's so important to keep the children covered up and protected from the sun. Here are 10 important things to remember on a scorching day:-
- Cover up with sun cream before going into the sun
- Remember waterproof nappies for little ones looking forward to a dip in the sea or a paddling pool
- Reapply suncream throughout the day, especially after emerging from water
- Wear a sun hat; sun glasses are more cosmetic but they're cute too
- Wear UV SPF protective clothing, wear clothes in water if you're really exposed to the sun
- Drink lots and keep hydrated - water is best
- Keep in the shade whenever possible
- Beware of biting or stinging insects, if insects are a pest where you are, use a natural repellant
- To help with hydration, eat lots of fruit, especially high water content tropical fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, melon and mango
- Eat lots of ice-cream!
In the old days, babies were bathed once a week in an old tin bath in front of the fire - if there were older brothers and sisters they may get the bath after everyone else had washed and so it was not a fun (or safe!) activity. Nowadays there are all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to entertain baby and keep them safe and bath time is often used as part of the bed time routine to lull baby into a restful sleep.
So, what do you need? Surely just a bath and a wash cloth! Not at all! There are some fabulous, new accessories that are worth a look at.
- Agua Pod: a slip mat with a back support and handle so baby can sit unaided on a non slip surface and slash around. Suitable for 6 moths plus, it costs around £25.
- Foam bath support: a huge spongy support for babies to lie back and enjoy a splashy time without needing full parental support. Suitable from birth to six months, priced around £10.
- Thermometer: To test the heat of the water, ideally the water should be 36-38 degrees centigrade; costs £3 - £15 for a digital version.
- Baby bather: a deckchair for baby to lie back in and feel supported while in the bath, suitable from birth. Costs around £10 for a toweling version, £20 for a more substantial fabric version.
- Ergonomic baby bather: all plastic, ergonomically shaped bather. Suitable from birth, costing around £16.
- Tummy Tub Baby Bath: looking like a large bucket for baby to bath in! Suitable from birth and costs in the region of £20.
- Dry Eyes Shampoo Shield: an ideal way to keep shampoo from children's eyes. Hold the shield during washing and it helps keep it from going in their eyes. Suitable from age 2, this will cost about £5.
When the weather is hot, it is relatively easy to encourage little ones to take in plenty of fluids with cold drinks, ice cream and lollies to keep them hydrated; but in the cooler weather, it's less obvious that your child may be getting dehydrated. Consuming water is so important, more so than eating food.
Water is vital for life.
- It regulates the body temperature
- It helps flush body waste in the form of urine
- It is required for transporting nutrients throughout the body
- It helps maintain a good weight
- It helps avoid constipation and urinary infections
- It helps digest food and absorb the nutrients from your food
- It increases your energy levels
How much to drink:
- Children aged 1-3 need just under 1 1/2 litres each day, although not exclusively in drink form as this includes the liquid consumed in food
How to encourage them to drink:
- Encourage little and often. Offer them cups of water each time you have a drink.
- Drink in front of them to show you do it too!
- Give older children a little plastic jug to pour their own drinks.
- Try new drinks: peach or grape juice (watered down by 1/2) is unusual and tasty.
- Make sure there is water and milk available at pre-school or nursery. Encourage your child to have a drink while away from home too.
- Find some fun 'sippy' cups or drinking straws to make it more fun for toddlers.
- Offer warm milk, chilled water, cool juice so vary the temperature.
- Feed liquid based foods: yoghurt, soups, etc.
- Eat juicy fruits like watermelon and pears.
Messy Play is a fun and important part of play - babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are always delighted to get their hands stuck in to some messy play. They get to feel and touch items and substances they wouldn't normally handle. But, it is also useful for the beginnings of mark-making and ideal for observing their world and how different ingredients change when mixed up. Most importantly - it is fun!
Get a large tray such as a baking tray with fairly deep sides to use when doing messy play. Add some ingredients to the tray and encourage the little ones to mix and feel and play with the substances.
- Flour: Place some flour on the tray. Get some small toys to drive through the flour to make tracks. Mix with spoons and sprinkle with glitter to make it sparkly.
- Flour and water: Add some water to make it slushy and really messy! Great fun!
- Oats: Add three spoon and bowls and some washable teddies and act out the tree bears story!
- Shaving foam: A cheap can of shaving foam can be sprayed on the tray and used to make patterns and marks with spoons and tools etc.
- Jelly: Make up some different colours and cut them up with blunt knives, mix them and squelch them together.
- Pasta: Different shaped pasta and rice can be mixed, sorted and sprinkled. Let the children use their imagination. Make necklace by threading onto string if you have time.
- Cornflour: Mix cornflour and water to make a heavenly gloopy, sticky messy substance to play with.
- Sand: Make a beach, add water in a bowl for sea and mix it all together. Make letter shapes and patterns in the sand or drive through some favourite toys or cars.
- Water play: Put some water in a sink or old baby bath and use it to play! Fill containers, make showers, sprinkle with glitter, use spoons and ladles and have fun! Add ducks or some dolls to wash.
Remember to protect clothing, floor, tables and keep any valuables away from the mess. Have fun!
It seems that just as many children begin to find themselves really mucky by the end of the day: food, paint, sand, mud all over them, that they develop a fear of the bath! Between the age of 1 and 2 it is common to hear of toddlers who cry, scream and refuse to get into their lovely, warm, foaming water despite lots of encouragement. There are various things that might scare children about bathing - even if they cannot necessarily articulate the problem, bear the following in mind.
- They may be fearful of the soap in their eyes when they wash with soap or wash their hair.
- They may not like the sound of the water filling the bath - it may be loud for them.
- They may not like the gurgling water going down the drain at the end of the bath.
- They may be scared of going under water or slipping.
- They may not like the coldness as they undress and when they get out all wet.
Try to reduce the fears by:-
- Not using slippy soap and ensuring you wash faces without soap on the cloth, just water.
- Filling the bath before they come in and emptying it after they have gone.
- Using baby shampoo and concentrate on the back of the head rather than the scalp so to avoid dripping.
- Wrapping them up nice and warmly in a dry towel as soon as they come out.
If they really refuse, don't force them. Try a stand up wash, then progress to a stand-up wash in the bath. Then with a little water and gradually build up the water over a couple of weeks, if that's what it takes.
Make bath time fun with a few toys to play with and calm lighting. Even try getting in yourself! That might be fun!
It's great to get outside whatever the weather, and winter outdoor activities take on a whole new meaning as we are wrapped up warm and have different things to focus on and play with. However, there are still dangers at large and here are a few pointers when it comes to making outside play safe and fun for children.
- Even if it's chilly and you don't fancy going outside into the garden with the children, do go out and check first that the garden is safe and free from any animal debris or faeces. Foxes can bring in all sorts of things (other people's shoes, rags, soft toys) that they have found in neighbouring gardens. So clean up any mess first using disposable gloves.
- When going out in the country, make sure children avoid any fresh manure. It may be interesting (!) but it should not be touched or dug up.
- Similarly, don't let the children wander too far into ditches or boggy land that may lead to problems.
- Be aware of what may have been put on the park flowers or indeed your own garden (manure, fertilizer, animal repellent etc.) Even though you may not be able to see the chemicals/treatment, they may still be present and can be dangerous if consumed.
- Make sure that kids know they can play in mud, but they must NOT touch their faces and MUST wash their hands thoroughly afterwards. If they are too young to understand these rules, they cannot be allowed to play in mud.
- Keep children away from water such as streams, ponds and lakes, especially when it becomes colder and they freeze over.
- Keep an eye on them, even if it's your familiar garden they are playing in.
Have, good, clean and safe fun!
We're all used to keeping height measurements for our little ones, but how about something a bit more unusual - here's a great science experiment you can do at bathtime and log growth over time! How large are your toddlers lungs?!
Get hold of a plastic measuring jug (don't be tempted to use a glass jug) and a straw for bathtime. Bendy straws that bend towards one end are perfect for this experiment.
Fill the jug completely with water by submersing it in the bath. Now turn it upside down and slowly lift it out of the water until it is almost completely proud of the water level. You'll notice that pressure keeps the jug full of water even though the column of water rises higher than the water level in the bath. The only way that the water will fall is if you lift the rim of the jug above the water level, at which point the water will cascade out very quickly!
Get the jug to a position where it is filled with water and standing above the water level with the rim still just submerged. Take the straw and place it so that the one end of the straw is under the mouth of the jug with the other out of the water. If you have a 'bendy' straw, bend the end and point the short end up into the jug, and hold the long end clear of the water.
Have your children take a deep breath in and then blow as much air as they can from their lungs into the straw. Younger children may need to practice a bit to master the technique of blowing out fully.
The air blown out will displace the water in the jug and when they are done, you can read off the measurement on the side of the jug to tell the volume of air displaced. Teach older children how to read the quantity by looking at the scale on the side of the jug. You'll be quite surprised at just how much air they can hold! Take a note of measurements and repeat it every couple of months to see how your little ones are growing!
Ponds can look lovely, with neat little reeds growing tall, a few fish swimming around and perhaps a water lily decorating the middle, but, as the parents of the toddler who recently drowned in a garden pond in Cumbria tragically found out, they are also very dangerous for toddlers and young children.
The 23 month old child was discovered by his mother early evening just a few weeks ago. Despite calling for help and being rushed to the local hospital, the little one didn't pull through. He drowned in the pond in the family garden.
Earlier this year, another 2 year old was found drowned in his garden pond in Bristol. In this case, the mother was arrested on suspicion of child neglect, although she was released on police bail.
Every year on average, about ten toddlers and children die in garden ponds. It is tragic and it is an avoidable disaster.
Needless to say, no matter how pretty your pond, none is worth the loss of life, the anguish of the parents, friends and family who will never be able to change the course of events and bring their little children back.
Children and toddlers whether crawling or walking or running move fast. One moment they are there, the next they have scuttled off. That is the nature of children.
Don't bother with fencing, or raising a little wall around the water, or carefully explaining to the kids not to go near the water. Just fill it in, turn it into a sandpit even! It simply isn't worth it!
When you are out and about or running round a school playground, a public drinking fountain can be a welcome sight, a place to rehydrate and for free! But how safe is it to drink from the same fountain that hundreds of others have drunk from? Would you share a water bottle with strangers in the park? I doubt it!
Are you likely to pick-up germs, bacteria and disease from all the other people who have used the fountain before? The answer seems to be unproven! There is plenty of evidence to suggest that germs and bacteria are all over drinking fountains. Some research suggested there were less germs on toilets and door handles than drinking fountains, because they are cleaned and disinfected more often. So there are more micro organisms on water fountains! Shocking.
However, this does not mean that the water is infected. The nature of the water fountain shooting an arc of water means that the water itself should not be contaminated even if the pump is itself covered in germs. So if the water is clean, it remains clean even if it comes through a mucky water fountain. Evidence to prove this fact seems sparse either to confirm the water is safe or to say it is not safe.
I suppose we should take comfort from the fact that there is not an abundance of studies proving they are contaminated. And, indeed, that we never hear of swathes of disease or outbreaks because of water fountains being unclean.
So, should we drink from water fountains and let our little ones drink from them? Yes, probably, but only if they are able to drink from the arc of water and not need to suck, lick or get too close to the spout itself! If they are too little to manage this, use the fountain to top up a water bottle or cup.
Now summer is here, the children can't wait to get outside in the warm sunshine, but what can you do to keep them as cool as possible on the hottest days? Here are a few ideas!
- Squirt - find some water guns and have a water fight! Or, use an old washing-up liquid bottle which are possibly easier for little ones to use... just squeeze rather than pulling a trigger. Or, if you have any water sprays for plants, fill these with water and have fun!
- Set some ice to freeze in the freezer the night before. Colour the ice cubes with food colouring and watch them melt in the paddling pool. Or, use larger containers: ice-cream tubs make huge blocks, or fill sandwich bags with water to make funny shapes. You could float plastic mini beasts in the tubs before freezing so the children can watch the creatures appear as the ice melts! To make clear ice, boil the water in a kettle first to remove the air.
- Fill the paddling pool and have story time with your feet in the cool water! A great idea for calming the children down before nap time and nice and cool for you too!
- Put cartons of juice in the freezer and use them for drinks. If you defrost for a while, before you need them they will be icy cold. Or freeze tubes of yoghurt so they make a creamy icy snack.
- Eating ice lollies can be expensive, so make your own! Make lolly pops by freezing juice in paper cups and pop a lolly pop stick inside.
- Making a crushed ice drink is a fun way of keeping the children hydrated. Make up a juice in a plastic cup and pop in the freezer. Keep stirring to break up the ice crystals as they form and when half way between drink and ice, serve with a straw.
- Cool snacks such as strawberries, watermelon, grapes and cucumber taste refreshing straight from the fridge, so keep some prepared ready for a quick fruit feast.
- Make a den using old sheets and frames such as an ironing board, clothes airer, chairs etc. It will be cooler inside and keep the kids occupied for ages.
Have fun, and keep yourselves as cool as cucumbers!
Once your child becomes a toddler a whole new world of toys are suddenly available to them. They can shake and hold, throw and grasp, walk and run... it's a very exciting (and challenging!) time for parents and carers. But, how should a toddler's home or setting be equipped?
Toddlers basically play with whatever is available to them. They need stimulus and an actual 'thing' to play with but at this age it doesn't really matter if it's from an expensive toy shop or your kitchen drawers! They don't know if something has been passed down from an older cousin or if it's brand new.
It is, of course, difficult to put down exactly which toys your toddler needs, because it depends largely on what they like to do and what they already have, but as a rough guide, the types of toys for toddlers should probably fall into the following areas in order to give them a wide ranging and exciting choice.
The Natural World
In order to teach your toddler about nature and the world they need to learn about the natural materials available to us. Whether you live in a house with a garden or a flat without any outside space, there are so many ways to introduce the natural world.
- Go explore the park or woods and find lots of different things made from different materials. Find sticks, stones, leaves, grass.
- Go to the green grocer or market and look at all the different vegetables and fruits on offer. Look at the colours, textures and shapes. Even try one you've not have before and eat it together.
- Talk about your food and where all the things come from.
Fill a basin or an old baby bath and splash around with plain water, water will bubbles, warm water and cold water. Find spoons and sieves and all sorts of things to play with in the water.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to water and play with coloured water. Mix the colours to see what happens.
- Wash a doll or teddy. Splash around with bubbles and soap and have lots of fun. Dry them and at the end wrap them in a towel.
- Get various objects from round the house and see if they sink or float; whether they get wet (like fabric) or go slippery (like plastic). Fill and empty things and see that large beakers have more water in them than small beakers.
Buy some modelling clay or play dough, or make your own (log into ToucanLearn to find recipes) and just have a squidgey time! Make mud pies and mountains and get really messy. (Just make sure you protect your clothes, surfaces and floor!)
- Make shapes and roll the clay into balls. Squash it; pound it; prod it and see what happens.
- Add rice or lentils too and knead it into the clay to make it textured.
- Make pretend clay people, or food or animals. Snip straws and stick them in to make antennae for clay insects or arms for people.
Get a sand pit or go to the beach and build castles, make tunnels or simply add water and change dry sand into sopping wet sand.
- Make some sand mounds and stamp them flat. Count them as you go.
- Build some roads for toy cars or animals and put them in the sand. Drive them around.
- Wrap some stones with silver foil and bury them in the sand. Then try and find the buried treasure!
Try and include some building blocks in your toddler's toy box. They are great for building a make believe train, or a castle.
- Count them; sort them, build with them.
- Make a long line with them, match them and roll them.
Here we've offered just a few basic ideas. Toddlers with even some of the above stimulating equipment will have lots of brilliant experiences. Have fun!
Just because children are smaller, don't think that this means they need only small amounts of water. Water is, without doubt, one of the most important nutrients for children even though when we read about children and nutrition, it's often left out. Water keeps them healthy, keeps them hydrated in order for their body to function and keeps them on form at school and nursery. Dehydration leads to a reduction in mental and physical performance. And, long term chronic dehydration may cause health problems and illnesses later in life.
Many pre-schools and nurseries have inadequate resources for children to have access to water so parents should encourage their children to drink regularly at home and try to encourage lots of good drinking at their nursery too. In hot weather, when exercising or running around in the playground, children should especially drink more. Even a small degree of dehydration can reduce their performance and well-being.
Although children are physically smaller than adults, they need to consume plenty of water. Research states that older children age 11-14 should drink about 3 litres a day. For toddlers it depends on their weight. It is said that they should drink about 1½ ounces of water per pound of body weight.
Children should drink more often and even when they don't feel thirsty. Because their body is less developed than ours, by the time they feel thirsty, dehydration may have already set in. Headaches, irritability and drowsiness are all symptoms.
Why Is Water So Important?
Adults are made up of 50% water and for infants the figure is closer to 75%, so water for toddlers is vital in order to keep healthy. Water also cools down a hot body, lubricates joints and make muscles work more smoothly.
If your child won't drink liquids, make sure they eat lots of water rich foods: soups, vegetables, milky drinks, smoothies etc. Or, add a splash of juice to make it a bit more tasty!
Tips to get your toddler drinking:
- Get a snazzy cup or bottle for them to drink from
- Keep the bottle of water in the fridge so its nice and cold
- Add some ice or slices of orange or lemon and serve from a pretty jug. You can even get fun shapes. (just make sure they don't choke, though!)
- Use special straws
Do anything to get them drinking. It's vital!
Getting your baby used to water is very important - taking them for a swim as soon as you are able can make them more confident in the water, more relaxed and open to learning to swim a few years down the road. It's good exercise for Mums and a great reason to get out of the house when you have a new baby. However, beyond all these benefits (and certainly not belittling them) is the wonderful twenty minutes you can spend with your baby or toddler being really close, playing games and having fun!
Tips for having fun in the pool with a baby
- Have a practice run... play some games and sing songs together in the bath!
- Try to go to the pool off-peak. Avoid loud water aerobics lessons or school swimming lessons.
- When you get in the pool for the first time, start gently by sitting yourself on the side of the pool and do some gentle splashing.
- Once you get in, keep baby close and sprinkle water on his back and arms.
- Keep plenty of eye contact, hold baby close to your body at all times and keep your face near her.
- When you are more confident, move baby through the water, cradling and supporting at all times and keep them close to you. Lots of body contact feels great in the water for you and for baby too!
- The weightlessness of swimming feels lovely for baby too - so enjoy moving through the pool together focusing on the unusual properties of water and how it changes how you both feel!
When to get out
- As soon as your baby begins to shiver, get them out and wrap in a towel.
- Only start with short sessions to begin with - about 10 minutes may be enough. Remember, you're not looking for value for money - you're introducing your little one to swimming! Certainly if your baby is under one don't stay longer than thirty minutes.
- Don't go if your baby is unwell or has a cold.
- Check with your GP if your baby has dry skin or nappy rash. Swimming may help or may irritate some conditions.
Dry your baby well and keep them warm after a swim. Enjoy the time together and be as close and as cuddly you can.
Lucky for us, when we want water, we simply turn on the tap and with a gurgle and a whoosh out shoots fresh, clean drinking water. It's simple, its easy and it's free flowing. However, that doesn't mean we should waste water and its the same for our children. Their instinct is to turn the tap on, and leave it running throughout the duration of washing teeth. But, we should guide them while they are young to respect this valuable commodity.
Bathroom: Turn off the tap when washing teeth! Have a shower instead of a full bath! Don't flush the toilet more than you have to - put paper tissues, cotton buds and cotton wool in the bin!
Kitchen: Don't run the dishwasher or washing machine unless its full. Don't rinse fruit and vegetables in running water, use a bowl. Don't wash dishes under running water, use a bowl. Keep a jug (or reuse a bottle!) of cold water in the fridge instead of running the water until it gets cold each time you want a drink.
Garden: Get a water butt for watering flowers in the garden rather than using a hose.
It can be easy and fun to save water if you do it together! And, did you know:
- only 2.5% of the world's water is freshwater: all the rest is salt water
- only 8% of the world's water is for domestic use: 70% is for agricultural use
- in the developing world, water-borne disease is responsible for 80% of illnesses and death
- we can go without food for about a month, but you won't survive longer than 7 days without water
Water presents a natural hazard for babies and toddlers - if you have a pond in the garden, ask yourself if it is really necessary, and how you can make it safe should you decide to keep it. A toddler can drown in as little as 2 inches of water; their face might fall into shallow water which they ingest, blocking the natural airflow to their lungs. Toddlers falling into water become disorientated and may not be able to pull away. Drowning has become the number one cause of accidental death in children. For every child killed by drowning, 4 more are treated in the emergency room for submersion-related accidents, many suffering permanent brain damage.
A young child can drown in just a few seconds - far quicker than the five minutes you might take your eyes off them in order to make a coffee. Drowning can be quick and quiet - you will not be aware what is going on until it could be too late. Should you discover a child who has fallen into water and has stopped breathing, start CPR immediately - there is a good chance of recovery for some time after breathing has stopped.
Ponds, pools and spa's make for the most dangerous water hazards in the garden. You might consider draining a pond until your children are older, why not turn it into a sand pit for them? If you keep a pond, or have a pool or spa, make sure that they are adequately protected - put up a small fence to keep children away, or consider installing an alarm such as a premiter or gate alarm, to warn you when your child is approaching the hazard.
Even baths pose a danger for babies and toddlers. Water ingested accidentally can lead to 'dry drowning' at a later stage. Before water enters the lungs, it passes through the larynx - this causes involuntary muscle spasms to relieve the water, this interferes with regular breathing and can cause death through a lack of oxygen. This can occur several hours after water is ingested, so be very aware throughout the bathing process and never take your eyes off your baby.
Always take care when your children are near water, and be alert for signs that they may have ingested water - coughing, choking or breathing difficulties. Drowning is a needless waste of life, and the most tragic accident any family can face.
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