Tag Archives: outdoor activities

Summer Sun Safety for Kids

Sun protectionWith summer rapidly approaching, everyone is thinking about fun under the sun. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, getting ready for camp, or simply playing in the backyard or park, everyone needs to know how to protect their family from the sun. The simplest solution—staying inside—has obvious drawbacks, but you should do all you can to limit exposure to harmful sunlight. Here are some helpful tips for safe summer fun:

Try to be indoors or in shaded areas between 10am-4pm, when the sun’s UV rays are strongest.

Use sunscreen. Remember, you can get sunburn even on cloudy days. Use enough to cover all exposed areas, especially the face, nose, ears, feet, hands, and even backs of the knees—and rub it in well. Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors.  This allows it time to absorb into the top layers of the skin. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, as well as after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Also, while we are focused on the summer, be aware that one can get sunburn even in winter.

What is SPF? A sunscreen’s efficacy is measured by its sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is not an amount of protection, but instead indicates how long it will take for UVB rays to redden skin when using a sunscreen, compared to how long skin would take to redden without any protection. For example, if it takes 10 minutes for skin to redden on its own, it will take 15x longer with a sunscreen of SPF 15 applied.  An SPF 15 sunscreen screens 93 percent of the sun’s UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; and SPF 50, 98 percent. But regardless of an SPF number, sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.

How to choose? The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) recommend that all sunscreen you use should provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, have an SPF of 30 or higher, and be water resistant.

Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight and under shade. If an infant is out in the sun and protective clothing and shade are not available, use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face.  For babies older than 6 months, apply sunscreen to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes.

When possible, dress yourself and your children in cool, dark colored, and loose clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.  Good examples include lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and broad brimmed hats. Select clothes made with a tight weave; they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better. Or you can look for protective clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The higher the UPF number the better. For a good comparison, a white cotton t-shirt has a UPF rating of 6.

Look for child-sized sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.

If all your protection efforts fail and your child gets sunburn: most sunburns are mild, but ALL are real burns, if only superficial. Cool compresses, pain relief medication, rehydration (with water or 100% fruit juice), and staying out of the sun are usually all that is needed for care of 1st degree burns. Severe sunburns are classified as 2nd degree, and can be accompanied by severe blistering and pain. Any child who develops fever and severe blistering or cracking of the skin should call their pediatrician and/or seek immediate medical attention.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

David Shipman, MD, is a pediatrician and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Medical Center. He sees patients at NYU Langone at Trinity.


The Best Summer Activities for NYC Kids

While many people think of summer as a time to escape the NYC heat and head for greener pastures (literally!), summer in the city can actually be a real treat—especially if you have kids. Beyond the tall buildings and bustling streets there are hidden amusement parks, water spraying playgrounds, and free concerts you and your little ones can enjoy almost any day of the week. So next time you’re racking for brain for things to do on your next free afternoon, try out one of the best summer activities in NYC!

Victoria Gardens. Hidden away in Central Park is Victoria Gardens at Wollman Rink, a kiddie amusement park that only operates during the summer. Perfect for preschoolers, the park has a variety of gentle rides (only a few have height limits), local performers, and lots of fun snacks. The under five set will probably need a little help handling rides like the Aeromax and the Rockin’ Tug, but all ages will love a day here nonetheless. To find Victoria Gardens, enter the park at 59th Street and Sixth Avenue and follow the path until you find the fun!

Water Playgrounds
Play in Water
. At first look, NYC playgrounds seem like normal play areas—a few slides, swings, climbing equipment, and some monkey bars. But when summer arrives, these playgrounds transform into water spraying entertainment areas, with sprinklers squirting water in every direction, and little ones frolicking happily through the spray. You can find these playgrounds in almost every corner of NYC, but for the ultimate spot, check out the Pier 25 play area, which has eight seasonal water features designed for kids age 2–12. You can even make a day of it here—there’s an 18-hole mini golf course, sand volleyball courts, and a snack bar.

Madison Square Park Concerts. Not only is Madison Square Park a fun place to go with kids because of its huge playground and every child’s favorite eatery Shake Shack (who doesn’t love a burger and ice cream?!), but it’s also the perfect summer spot because of its Thursday morning FREE concerts for kids. Favorites such as Songs for Seeds, WeBop Family Jazz Party, and more perform rain or shine starting at 10:30am—the lawn opens at 10am so get there early to reserve your spot!

Public PoolsMother and baby playing in a swimming pool. Besides swimming lessons, there’s nothing better than splashing around freely in a pool on a hot day. Luckily NYC has a bunch of great public pools, where little ones can spend a morning or afternoon cooling off with other city kids. We love John Jay Pool because of its proximity to the river and the adjacent John Jay Park playground, but there are tons of other convenient pools throughout NYC depending on where you live.

Drop-in Classes. When your little one needs a break from the summer sun—as well as some learning and structure during the day—there are awesome drop-in classes throughout NYC, where you can pop in without having to plan too far ahead. Whether you live uptown, downtown, or anywhere in between, you can search Kidz Central Station by drop-in classes, location, and whatever type of class you’d like (music, cooking, dance, open play, and more!) and you can sign up in a minute and be on your way to class.

And when all else fails, load up on sunscreen, walk out your door, and grab a couple of cones from your nearest Mr. Softee truck—it’s sure to do the trick!

3 Essential Sun Safety Tips for Kids

Sun protection
Now that spring is here and summer is around the corner, it’s time for kids to spend more time outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather. As we finally shed heavy winter coats and scarves, it’s also time for parents to think about sun safety, and how to best protect children’s skin from sun damage, because we know that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can lead to skin cancer later in life. In fact, there is no such thing as a “healthy tan,” and a history of sunburn increases one’s risk of skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, will cause 10,000 deaths this year.

There’s no need to hide your children indoors during the day like vampires. You can take your family on vacation, go to the beach, and enjoy all kinds of healthy outdoor activities. The important thing is to have an overall sun protection plan in place. More than just sunscreen, a total sun protection program includes the following three strategies:

1. Avoid the midday sun. Because harmful UV rays are at their strongest between 10 am and 4 pm, plan outdoor activities, such as bike riding or playtime in the park, earlier or later in the day when the sun is not right overhead. Of course, you can’t always control the timing of outdoor activities (for example, your neighbor’s noon-time barbecue), so when your kids do need to be outside during the sun’s peak, seek a shady spot or put up an umbrella to shield them from the sun.

2. Wear protective clothing. Generally, the tighter the weave and darker the color, the more protection clothing will provide. However, it’s most important to find clothing children like and will actually wear. The chest and shoulders are particularly vulnerable to sun exposure, so even kids who are wearing sunscreen should cover those areas. For trips to the beach or pool, special swim shirts now come in all different styles and price points. Don’t forget to protect the face and ears with a wide-brimmed hat, and eyes with sunglasses.

3. Use sunscreen. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation that can damage the skin. UVB rays cause sunburn, and UVA rays cause tanning and premature skin aging.

It’s important to choose a sunscreen labeled “Broad Spectrum,” which will protect against both kinds of rays. Here are some additional tips for effective sunscreen use:

– Choose sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (SPF indicates the level of protection against UVB rays only).
– For babies and children with sensitive skin, use sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as its active ingredients. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical filters that provide good broad-spectrum coverage and can be less irritating than chemical ingredients, such as oxybenzone or avobenzone.
– Use “water resistant” sunscreen for swimming or activities that will cause heavy sweating.
– Apply sunscreen before going outdoors.
– Be generous! For adults, dermatologists recommend using enough to fill a shot glass—about 1 ounce. Use a proportional amount for kids.
– Cover all exposed skin.
– Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or as soon as kids get out of the water, towel off, or sweat heavily.
– If it’s hard for little ones to sit still while you rub in sunscreen lotion, try a spray sunscreen instead, which can be applied more quickly; just be sure you don’t spray it into their faces. A sunscreen stick may also be more convenient for kids.
– To help sunscreen apply more easily, pick a product with a smell and texture you think your child might like.

Staying out of the sun during peak hours, wearing protective clothing, and using sunscreen as part of an overall sun protection strategy will not only help your kids enjoy the outdoors safely today, but also will help protect their health in the future—and maybe even save their lives.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Jennifer A. Stein, MD, PhDis the director of the transplant dermatology unit and the associate director of the pigmented lesion service of The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Stein has a particular interest in atypical moles and early detection of melanoma. Her research focuses on early detection and treatment of melanomas of special sites, such as the hands and feet and the face. Dr. Stein holds the academic appointment of assistant professor in the Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone. She earned both her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from NYU School of Medicine and completed her residency at NYU Langone. A Board-certified dermatologist, She has authored or co-authored over 40 published studies on skin cancer and other dermatologic conditions.

Get Outdoors this Fall! Fun Family Activities in and Around NYC

Fall is definitely my favorite season. Although I’m always a little sad to put my flip-flops away, there is something about the brisk air, beautiful leaves and trees, and new energy of the season that makes it seem ok that summer’s over. What I also love about fall is spending weekends with family—and the weather is perfect for running around outdoors and taking it all in before winter is here. If you’re looking for some great ways to spend your upcoming fall weekends, here are a few fun family activities from my own personal fall schedule.

Kids playing in an apple gardenApple picking. If you have lots of friends with kids like I do, I’m sure your Facebook newsfeed looks similar to mine—happy families posing together in apple orchards, as well as action shots of adorable toddlers dragging huge bags of apples behind them. I’m not usually the jump-on-the-bandwagon type, but my family is joining the craze next weekend, because apple picking is a pretty fun excuse to get out of the city. A few suggestions nearby: Harvest Moon, Masker Orchards, Wightman’s Farm, and Demarest Farms.

Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is one of my (and my toddler’s) favorite weekend activities. With tons of animals to visit (including a children’s petting zoo) and beautiful tree-lined paths to walk along for hours, it’s close to the city and can be reached by car, bus, or train. A great tip for city families: Check out the Family Premium Zoo pass—it’s a great deal if you plan on going a few times a year. It’s $189 for the year, which includes parking; admission for two adults, children up to age 18, and one guest; plus unlimited access to the area’s four zoos and one aquarium.

Woodbury Commons. Hands down the best outlets I’ve ever been to, Woodbury Commons has every store you can possibly imagine. You’ll find lots of great shopping for kids, as well as a great mix of high-end brands and every day staples for yourself. And since the season is changing (and little ones grow really quickly) there’s a good chance you’ll need to pick up some new things for the cooler weather. It’s also about an hour from the city, so it’s the perfect length of time for a good car nap there and another one on the way back.

Smorgasburg. If you live in Brooklyn, Smorgasburg may be as ordinary as going to your local grocery store, but I’ve never been—and I’m totally intrigued. Each weekend, “Brooklyn’s Flea Food Market” sets up shop on Saturday on the Williamsburg waterfront and on Sunday in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5, with over 75 delicious vendors of the best food, drink, and more Brooklyn has to offer. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems like the perfect place to eat, drink, and stroll around with my family on a beautiful fall afternoon. One thing to note: Sunday Smorgasburg will temporarily move to Pier 2 until October 5.

5summertimeplaygroundsnycParks and Playtime. There are great  playgrounds and parks in almost every NYC neighborhood, so you don’t necessarily have to leave the city to make the most of fall. One of my favorite parts about living in New York City is having so many outdoor places to play just a quick walk from my apartment. Head to Central Park for running, playing, and tossing around a ball; visit Washington Square Park for some time on the swings and a stroll; or try out Riverside Park for views of the Hudson while your kids climb on the playground jungle gyms. Don’t underestimate all of the fun fall activities right outside your door.

One quick tip: For just about all of the above activities, get an early start—as in, the minute these places open. You’ll avoid long lines, crowds of people, and impatient kiddies, and you’ll enjoy your time as a family much, much more. Take my word for it!