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How hot is *too* hot for baby to go outside?

3. Don't use blankets as sun blockers.

how hot is too hot for kids

Summer can be so fun, but it can also be so, so hot—and this year, thanks to COVID-19, taking the kids to an enclosed indoor public space with air conditioning is not recommended by public health officials. So parents are spending more time on outdoor and backyard activities this summer even as the temperature rises.

We mamas are feeling the heat, but the CDC warns infants and children are more at prone to developing heat-related illness than adults are.

A heat wave doesn't have to mean an end to all summer family fun, but there are a few important steps parents should take to prevent heat-related illness and injury in little ones.

1. Schedule around the sun

If you've got little kids who have to get outdoors, or you just like to take your baby for a walk in the stroller, you still can if you pick the right time of day. The CDC recommends limiting outdoor activity to when it's coolest, like morning and evening hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) takes it a bit further and cautions against outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.. Basically, midday is a great time to head inside for lunch and a nap.

Beach days are a blast, but check the weather report and the COVID-19 recommendations first. The hottest day of the year might not be the best for beach-going, and crowds aren't recommended in most areas right now.

2. Sunscreen for the whole family

When you do go outside, make sure to slather on the sunscreen first. The CDC recommends an SPF of 15 or more (along with a hat and sunglasses) 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposures. The AAP recommends shade and adequate clothing as the first line of sun defense for babies under 6 months old, but even those little ones should get a small amount of sunscreen on areas like the face and the back of their hands.

3. Don't use blankets as sun blockers

When the sun's rays are intense parents naturally look for ways to keep the sun off a baby's delicate skin, but experts warn the common practice of draping a blanket (even a very thin muslin one) over a stroller or car seat can increase a baby's temperature drastically.

An experiment conducted by a Swedish newspaper found that if it's 71F (22C) outside when a stroller is covered with a blanket, the inside of the stroller can reach a scorching 94F (34C) within about half an hour.

So instead of draping a blanket over the stroller parents can make use of canopies that attach to the stroller but don't trap the heat, and should seek shade for the baby as much as possible.

4. Keep everyone hydrated

According to the World Health Organization, babies under 6 months old do not need water, but older children should be offered plenty on hot days, says the CDC. Bottle fed babies may require more frequent formula feeds in order to stay hydrated in the heat, and breastfeeding babies may want to nurse more than usual during hot weather. That means mama will need to make sure she's well hydrated, too.

With lots of water and a few more indoor activities, we can make it through the heat wave and plan for some more fun in the sun when the temperatures are a little less intense.

[A version of this post was originally published June 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

We've got what you need to safely beat the heat, mama. Shop some of our simple summer favorites.

Bebe au Lait muslin sun hat

Bebe au Lait muslin sun hat

Keep the sun off their face with this oh-so-soft muslin sun hat. It's made from a blend of bamboo and cotton that protects without overheating.

$14

Vivaiodays turmeric broad spectrum sunscreen

Vivaiodays turmeric broad spectrum sunscreen

A formula our kids never complain about having to wear, this non-nano zinc oxide and turmeric sunscreen goes on and absorbs easily. It's suitable for even the most sensitive baby skin but works fabulously for big kids and adults as well.

$24

Welly water bottle 

Welly water bottle

Staying hydrated seems easier with this gorgeous bottle. Not only does it look pretty (#priorities) but it comes equipped with a built in infuser that's perfect for naturally flavoring water with lemon or cucumber.

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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