By Melissa Fiorenza
During the summertime, there are a slew of tips out there regarding the well-being of kids at the beach, the pool, on the Fourth of July, etc. But for those of us whose kids spend much of their time at daycare, what do parents need to know? I asked around to find out.
1. Sunscreen and bug spray are must-haves. “Since infant and toddler skin is much more permeable than adults’, make sure you send your children to daycare with sunscreen,” says Morgan Statt, Health & Consumer Safety Advocate at ConsumerSafety.org. Look for sunscreen that is 30 SPF or higher, is water resistant, and has broad spectrum coverage, shesuggests. And in case you haven’t heard: mosquito season has officially arrived. Statt recommends packing a bug spray that has no more than 10% DEET.
2. Confirm staff-to-child ratios. If your center is big on taking the kiddos outdoors, ask about the staff-to-child ratio—really to give you peace of mind that your little ones will be looked after as they’re running about, says Statt. Ratios vary depending on age, she adds. For birth to 15 months, for example, it may be 1:4; whereas if it’s 4 years and up, it could be 1:10.
3. Pack the right accessories… Christine Stevens, founder of Sleepy Tots Consulting (and a daycare mom), advises sending kids in with a hat and sunglasses for extra sun protection if your daycare’s play areas aren’t very well shaded. And while it’s best to send them in closed-toe shoes to help avoid tripping injuries, she adds, some daycares are fine with sandals. “Just make sure the shoes are well fitting and stay on their feet so they don’t injure themselves while playing and running.”
4. …and the right clothes. This time of the year, the ACs are cranking. “One important thing to remember is daycares are required to keep the center between 68-72 degrees year round,” says Holly Flanders, founder and CEO of Choice Parenting Childcare Consulting Services. Flanders, who has also served as a daycare director, suggests stashing layers of clothes at school so that your child is prepared for both indoor and outdoor temperatures.
5. Ask the right questions. Consider this a catch-all tip that can fill you in on anything else you should know for peace of mind, but also for pre- and post-school to-dos. Ask your daycare (or check their handbook) these questions that Flanders shared, that I wouldn’t have thought to ask myself: In what conditions do they refrain from going outside? (e.g. temps above 90, rain, air quality alerts) Does the staff check the children over for ticks, or can you request they do so? Do they have access to drinking water outside, or do they bring their sippy cups with them? Do kids wash hands when returning to the center? And lastly, do teachers check the temps of playground equipment, like slides? (I try to pack longer shorts, just in case!)
Happy summering, parents!!!
Melissa Fiorenza is a writer, author, and ever-worrying mom with two kids in daycare. She has been published in/on Health, Prevention.com, Ladies’ Home Journal, and All You magazine, among others. She currently works full-time at a higher education marketing agency in Troy, New York.