All Things Sunny and Swimmy

Time to greet the unofficial beginning of summer with some important sunny and swimmy tips.


Do not forget sunscreen! Here is the list of particular favorites from Consumer Reports (via WebMD.) I don’t care what you use... I just want you to use your sunscreen liberally, frequently, and frequently. Did I mention, frequently?

I have heard many parents concerned of the chemical content of sunscreens, therefore choose not to apply it to their children. Sunscreen decreases the risk of cancer; it’s proven benefits outweigh potential risks. Period. For more information about chemical vs. physical sunscreen barriers, check out this post from Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson.

While we are mentioning sun safety, we have to talk about the recent campaign against melanoma (skin cancer.) Please take the time to watch this amazing video about the risks of sun exposure. It just might change how you wear your sunscreen this summer.

Bug spray

Yes, kids need to be protected from insect bites. Insects in our area of the country (and most areas) can spread diseases. In addition, I see many insect bites that become infected over a short period of time. I hate to have to give antibiotics as a result of being in the great outdoors!

There are a ton of choices when walking down the insect repellent aisle. Here is some information about different types of repellants.

In general, I recommend a repellent that contains a low percentage of the chemical DEET for best protection (30% or less.) Remember, bug spray is a lot like sunscreen. I would rather have a lower percentage of DEET in my product and frequently apply, then get a higher percentage DEET product. In addition, lots of my families have used “clip-on” repellants applied to strollers, swim bags, and waist bands with reasonable success.

I, unfortunately, have not heard of many “greener” options that are effective against the tough bugs we have in our neck of the woods. But, if you have suggestions, please feel free to add them to the comments below.

Swim lessons

Great! I love swim lessons! Kids need to know how to swim in order to be more comfortable around water. However, having a kid graduate from swim lessons does not allow parents to lessen their keen watch at the pool.

Although drowning rates have been decreasing in the United States, drowning does still remain one of the top 3 causes of death for children. In the past, swimming lessons were recommended for children over the age of 4. Now, there is some evidence to suggest that swimming lessons for kids aged 1-4 years does decrease the risk of death due to drowning. At this point in time, infant water survival classes are not recommended.

The ability to learn and enjoy swim lessons varies greatly from child to child based upon physical ability, willingness, and emotional development. Determine your child’s readiness with a local instructor in your area to decide when your child should enroll.

For a great website about water safety, please check here.

Swimmer's ear

Swimmer’s ear is the common name for an external ear infection. It is due to bacteria in the ear canal. Swimmer’s ear is very different than an ear infection that an infant or toddler may get when they have a cold virus. Different location, different bacteria.

We increasing see swimmer’s ear in the office during the summer, although some kids are prone to this infection year round. Most families just want to know how to prevent it.

So, how can you prevent swimmer’s ear? Go back to the advice your grandmother told you - Don’t put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear. This includes Q-Tips. Putting anything inside the ear canal increase the risk of minor trauma or scratches to that sensitive skin. If skin is scratched, it is easier for bacteria to take residence and cause infection.

If you need to drain water our of an ear, use something absorbent (cotton ball or towel, for instance) and hold it up to your ear while tipping your head to one side. Alternatively, use swimmer's ear drops (available over the counter) after each time you swim. You can make your own swimmer's ear drops by combining white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.

I hope this advice gets you excited, and prepared, for the start of summer. Now, get the grill hot and the ice tea cold... it’s summertime!!