Monthly Archives: July 2011

Cooling Down After Fun In The Sun

daycare_readingWe’ve had a fun time so far, learning about how to teach children good health habits for playing outside. We have also taken these good health habits and demonstrated ourselves that even though we are parents and daycare providers we are not above or outside of the rules of good habits when playing in the sun. As much fun as it is playing outside it can be very harmful to anyone who doesn’t practice these. This is very important to know and to learn and if you can imbue these good habits in your children then you have given them a valuable life lesson indeed.

Coming in out of the Sun

First and foremost you should praise and thank every single child for their own healthy outdoor habits. Make sure they know how proud you are of them for keeping their sunglasses and hats on. Tell them it was great that they all listened when it was time for a drinking break. Perhaps you can reward them and their great healthy habits by allowing them to play longer outside next time.

As they come in make sure that the children all put their hats and glasses where they belong. If children just toss them any old place, they are sure to get lost or broken. Talk to the children about putting their hats and sunglasses away in the right cubby or place, so that they will have more time playing outside if they don’t have to search around and look for any missing items .

Cool Them Down

Alphabet Bingo Game
Playing games can keep the kids resting and entertained.

Once their outside gear is stowed away, you may want to get a cool, wet washcloth and wipe down the children. Wipe where you put sunscreen on them with the cool washcloth. This not only can clean off the sunscreen they no longer need but will also get some of the dirt and grime off they were sure to get while playing outside. And the third and best reason for this is that it is cool and refreshing and will help the child cool down.

After the children have come in from playing outside, this is a time you want to have them sit for a while quietly. This is an excellent time to work on a craft or to read them a story. This will help them to stay still and calm down after their time in the sun.

Go around and refill their cups with water and make sure they all drink the water. It is easy for them to forget about their water if they are doing a craft or in the middle of a story so make sure to prompt them during this quiet time.

Check for Signs of Heat Exhaustion

While the children are calmed down and resting, make sure you check each of them, looking for signs of heat exposure. Did they all get their color back? Have the children all calmed down and are breathing normally? Is there any child that is still sweating? Are any of them shivering and pale? If you find any signs of heat exposure and the signs do not fade quickly in the cool indoors, you should seek out medical attention for the child. Heat exposure can lead to heat stroke, causing severe problems such as brain damage and even death. Do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if this is the case.

Fun in the Sun

If you and your daycare follow these steps, you and your child can have a safe and healthy time outside. You will also be demonstrating how important it is to be safe in the sun. Parents and daycare providers help teach healthy life habits that will stay with the children their whole lives. These simple steps, when taken each time you head outdoors, will help you, and your children lead healthy lives. These lessons should be reflected in your daycare provider’s care of the children. There is no reason we can’t enjoy the great weather, we just need to make sure we do it right.

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Outside at Daycare and Home

daycare_beachWe just covered about how you should prepare to spend time outside with your children. It is important to teach them all the proper things needed before they head outside. The goal is to not only to teach them and make sure they have good habits while outside, but to get the children to do this on their own. If you’re dedicated and consistent with the rules, you will help keep them protected during their many hours of outside play time. In doing this you will also get your children to insist on safe habits at your daycare. This ensures a happy and healthy time outside, at home, at daycare, at other people’s houses.

The Children’s Play Time

As the children head out into the sun for play time, make sure to take note of the time. Check the Daycare Heat Index Safety Chart to see if it is hot or humid enough to limit your time outside. If it is, make sure to bring the children inside after that time limit has been reached in order to avoid any heat- related health issues.

It is very important to stick to the rule of keeping sunglasses and hats on at all times, unless the activity prevents it, such as swimming. If a child takes their hat or sunglasses off, they need to be done outside. If they cannot go inside, then they can sit in the shade and watch the other children play. They most likely will put on their hat and sunglasses to get back to the fun.

Drink Water, Lots of Water

16 Ounce Chugger Water Bottle
Let the kids pick their own colors.

The very best thing that you or your daycare provider can do with the children’s play time outside is to make sure they drink plenty of water. Every 15 minutes or so prompt the children to get a drink of water from their sports cups. If the kids are taking a drink every once in awhile on their own, that is great, and you should praise them for such behavior. However, this shouldn’t stop you from making sure everyone is getting a drink every 15 minutes or so. Have them drink as much as they want and if they run out, praise them for drinking lots of water and then happily refill it. When they are playing out in the sun it is almost impossible to drink too much water.

Watch for Signs of Heat Exhaustion

No matter what the weather is like it is a good idea to keep an eye on the children for signs of heat exposure. Children often play hard and this can bring on the symptoms of head exhaustion faster than temperature alone can. Watch for any of the children getting flush, very red, and unable to catch their breath, even when resting. If the children are playing hard use the 15 minute drinking breaks as a time to have them all sit down in the shade for a minute or two while they drink. Ask them about the game they are playing or talk to them for a few minutes about games they could play. This will help to get their attention and keep them at rest in the shade while they drink. Just a little time to stop in the shade is all that most will need. Then they can go back out to play.

If you notice that a few minutes, shade and a little water is not helping one of the children keep them a bit longer. Don’t let them go back to playing if they have not “recovered”. If they do not seem like they are recovering it may be time to call play time quits and all head back inside. If one child is having issues with heat exposure then the others are surely close.

A Long Day in the Sun

Play & Shade Pool
Toddler play in the shade pool.

If you are out on a trip or activity that will keep you out in the sun for many hours it is very important to make sure that you keep everyone hydrated and have plenty of water along with you. Keep the children, and yourself, drinking at regular intervals. Make sure that whatever the activity you are doing you plan to have access to bathrooms during the entire thing. It may seem like a hassle but you want the children going to the bathroom often. That means they are getting enough water.

You or your daycare should make sure that they take along more sunblock so the children can get reapplications every few hours. If you will be on an all-day trip, make sure to plan official stops throughout the day to reapply sunscreen and to do routine checks of all the children to be sure they are not showing signs of heat exposure.

Heat exposure can be a very dangerous, even deadly, health risk. If you see any of the children showing signs of heat exposure take early and immediate steps to help them. Give them water, sit in the shade and make sure they cool down. If they don’t or other children are showing signs of heat exposure, be prepared to call your outing off early. The health of the children is so much more important than any trip or activity you have planned.

Done with the Sun

Whether you have spent the entire day outside or you the children are heading back inside from their morning play time at daycare, it is important to take steps to make sure the children are all fine, especially when it is hot and humid. Next we will talk about how to cool down and relax from playtime outside.


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Healthy Outdoor Habits at Home and Daycare

daycare-kids-in-playgroundSummer is in full swing and it is important to keep your children safe both at daycare and at home. The best way to keep them protected from the heat and sun is to have great hot weather habits yourself! Your children want to emulate everything that you do and this includes how you prepare to spend time in the sun, what you do in the sun, and what to do after you have come inside out of the heat.

There are both short term and long term health issues when a person gets too hot, gets sunburn, or spends time outdoors without eye protection. It should be a rule at home to wear sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat whenever you go outside.

Many parents are shocked when they see my young children with their sun gear on. Even strangers ask how I get my children to wear their sunglasses and hats. It’s simple: If they want to play outside, they must have them on and keep them on. There is no debate, there is no compromise. If they want to go outside and have fun, they must follow the rules. If they don’t want to wear their gear outside, they will need to stay inside. Sure there are some struggles and fights with this, but now my children put their sunglasses and hats on without me even asking. If I say they can go play outside they tell me they can’t because they don’t have sunblock on. When you get to this point, it’s much easier for you, and much healthier for them. And if they do it at home, they will do it daycare. And when they do it at daycare it is likely that the other kids will do the same and they will all have a fun, safe time out in the sun.

Preparing for the Sun


Spray On Children's Sunscreen
Spray on children's sunscreen is easy for daycare.

Sunblock is a must! Scientists have linked many health and skin issues to sun exposure: premature aging, eye damage including cataracts, and skin cancer. It’s too easy to not worry about what will happen later in life but to take care of this threat now you are helping to teach your child good habits and possibly spare them much pain and suffering in the future.

A good rule of thumb is to use at least 45 SPF sunscreens. Anything less than that is not going to effectively block the sun, it will only “slow it down”. Your goal needs to be to block the sun and to keep the sun burns and other problems away. Not only should you apply sunscreen before going out in the sun, but also every hour for each 15 SPF of the sunscreen. So for 45 SPF, you should apply sunscreen every three hours. If the children are swimming or doing other strenuous activities that might wear off their sunscreen, cut that time in half, and reapply much sooner. It is all too easy to forget about re-application when you’re out having fun but it is very important to do.

Make sure to thoroughly cover all exposed skin, and get up underneath sleeves and pant legs a bit so the skin is protected when the child moves around. Make sure to apply sunblock to the ears and face, especially noses. Noses burn easily and ears are one of the most common places for melanoma.


The age of your child will determine what kind of sunglasses they may want or need so take this into consideration. Infants and toddlers can wear goggle-like sunglasses. It can be hard to get them to keep them on but if you put them on and then distract them with a toy or something else, they may forget they are wearing the sunglasses. If you just can’t get this young of a child to wear them, make sure they stay in the shade. By the time they can walk and run around, they are also old enough to learn to keep sunglasses on. For children a little older, take them with you to the store to pick out the sunglasses they want. This will get them excited about their own sunglasses and will make them eager to wear them outside. Be sure to pick up a few pairs as they will get lost and broken—it’s just the nature of kids. You will also want to put a pair in your purse, in the car, at home and a few for your daycare. You don’t want your child to go without protection for their eyes!


Childs wide brim hat
This childs wide brim hat offers lots of protection.

There are many different styles of hats, caps and other head wear. The important thing is to find something your child will like and use. With infants and toddlers it is a good idea to find a soft bucket hat with a brim, and preferably a chin strap to hold the hat on their head! When trying a new hat, use the same method as the sun goggles. When you put the hat on, distract them immediately with their favorite toy. Another useful trick is to have two of the same hat. Often they are not bothered by the hat they just want to see it and play with it. If you have a second one their curiosity may be satisfied. Hats for older children can be a lot of fun. Take them shopping and when you get their sunglasses also pick out some hats for them. Look for their favorite color or their favorite character. Make sure they have something they like and will want to wear. This will make it much easier to stick by the rules that everyone out in the sun must wear a hat. Sunburns on the scalp can be very painful and the top of your head is not something you can easily protect with sunblock!


Last but certainly not least, every child needs to have their own water container to take with them when they go outdoors. Try to pick something with a closed lid, like a sippy cup or a travel mug. It is too easy to spill their water while they are playing in the sun. If you can add a few ice cubes they may really drink it up! Cold water will really help their bodies stave off the heat as they drink when they are playing. Beware that ice may be a choking hazard so keep in mind the container you are using and if the ice can slip through the opening.

Time to Play Outside

Now that you are ready, make sure to praise everyone on a great job getting ready to go outside. Tell the kids that they are ready to go with their sunscreen, shades and a hat. Have them grab their water and head outside. If the kids put their water in the shade it will stay cooler longer. Encourage them to take frequent breaks to drink water, and drink as much as they want. Let them know you will happily refill their water containers if they need.

Now have fun playing with the kids outside!

Next up we will talk about what how to handle your time outside and what to teach the kids.


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