- on April 4, 2011
Yesterday, it was ninety degrees in Lawrence, KS. And that, my friends, combined with a lunch at Johnny's and a trip to the park, is about as close to nirvana as I get.
We've longed for months to take our toddler outside and let him run free, explore the neighborhood swings and slide, and soak up a little vitamin D. What could be better than a little free fun a block from home, especially on one of the first warm and sunny days of the year?
Later that day I visited a friend with a sweet 3 week old baby and while I held her and fought off urges to run home and demand that my husband agree to another kid or four, we talked about the sun. She wanted to know how old Johnny was when I first took him to a pool, and I guessed he was probably about nine months old, seeing as he was born at the end of August and didn't have a pool season until the following May. She was worried about exposing her baby daughter to the sun too early, and said she'd read somewhere to wait until she's one.
ONE? Really? I couldn't imagine. I mean, we all know that babies have very sensitive skin and we have to be super careful not to allow them to be out without heavy duty sunblock, a hat, and good shade, nd even then we need to make sure it's not too long, or too hot. But to just avoid the whole thing until the baby is one? That seems like just one more rule on the laundry list of rules that the world has conspired to create to make the lives of new moms hellish and restrictive.
Sorry, Mom! No pool or park or walks for you! Keep that baby inside!
I did some research of my own and learned that most experts suggest being very conservative about sunlight until the baby is six months old, which seemed reasonable to me. But even then, it doesn't mean that your infant can't go outdoors. She just needs proper clothing, sunscreen, and full shade.
Vitamin D is important for babies, and especially for breast fed babies who don't get formula supplements. This does not mean that I think you should strip your newborn down and lay her on the sidewalk to roast, but, like everything, some common sense and moderation can go a long way. If she is in the shopping cart for a few minutes while you load your groceries into your car, or if you go for a short walk with sunscreen and a shaded stroller, or later go for a short swing in the park, covered as usual with the proper protections, I can't help but think the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Everyone, even a baby, feels better after having had some fresh air and light. All of us need to get outside, whether we're two months or two hundred months old.