baby pools There's nothing like splish-splashing all day long in your own personal blow-up pool, but even the cutest can turn gross if left too long. After one afternoon's dip, it can become a bacteria hotbed, increasing the risk of urinary, skin, and gastrointestinal infections, says José Villarin, M.D., associate chairman of pediatrics at New York Hospital Queens. And, of course, even a small amount of water can be a potential drowning risk to babies.
play it safe Close supervision -- meaning, close enough to touch -- at any size pool is key. And make it a rule: No drinking the water! Sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many tots consider that plastic tub the ultimate tea party. Those swimmy diapers do a good job at containing waste, but hold off if she's got diarrhea. At day's end, empty the pool and turn it over. Fill and repeat!
bees Think about it: Why wouldn't these buggers zoom right for the sweetest thing around? Babies usually wear jazzy, bright-colored clothes, and they're often coated in some degree of snack-laden dribble. Those two factors alone can create a buzz all over bug land: A Teddy Graham hath fallen -- come one, come all!
play it safe No need to go goth with your little one's wardrobe; promptly wiping her hands and face and cleaning up any spills will suffice. If she does get stung, flick out the stinger with a credit card or something similar like a library card, suggests Dr. McCoy. You can also apply products like Benadryl cream. Getting stung is usually a short-lived problem, unless she's allergic. Serious reactions to look for: breathing problems, wheezing, and severe hives. Any of these warrants a call to 911.
sandboxes You can squeeze hours of fun out of sandboxes -- if you take a couple of precautions.
play it safe Yeah, you let him crawl around in the sand at the beach that's full of who knows what, but at home, it's worth buying sand specially prepared for play. This way you can be sure that it's free of bacteria, fungus, insects, glass, and metals that could injure your baby. You can find it at most toy, hardware, and gardening stores or at SafeSand.com. You'll also want to keep the sandbox covered to prevent animals, bugs, and water from getting in-all of which can turn it into a bacteria breeding ground. The main thing: If an animal has left a buried treasure or should your baby have an accident, it's best to dump the whole box and replace the sand.
mosquitoes These pesky, disease-carrying guests are often on the scene when you're chilling outside, especially near water or when the sun's going down. And you don't want what they're bringing to the party.
play it safe To protect against mosquitoes and other insects (like ticks), apply a repellent that contains no more than 10 percent DEET to babies older than 2 months, steering clear of their hands, mouth, and eyes. (For younger babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using protective clothing only, like long socks, sleeves, pants, closed-toe shoes, and hats.) "It's also best to avoid using the combination sunscreen/insect repellents," says Dr. McCoy. "You can reapply the sunscreen as needed, but there's usually no need to reapply the bug spray." Put on the spray first, then sunscreen. If you'd rather forgo the repellent altogether, you can consider using a carbon-dioxide machine for your backyard, pricey though they are. They attract mosquitoes by mimicking breath and can take a big bite out of your skeeter population (check out MosquitoMagnet.com for more information). Forget about those old-school zappers, though. They can blow bug parts -and their diseases-all over your yard and your burger. Eeeeewwww!