Outdoor safety: "Is my baby ready to ..."
...be out in the cold?
Taking babies out in freezing weather isn't anybody's idea of a good time -- unless you're going stir-crazy indoors and yours seems eager to check out snowflakes.
What you need to know Let your common sense guide you: If you're feeling cold, chances are your baby is, too -- and he can't warm himself by walking around the way you can. So dress him appropriately (with one more layer than you, plus a well-insulated snowsuit, a hat, and mittens) and feel free to let him play a bit with you in the snow. Once you start feeling cold and wet, though, head in and get him out of his damp clothes.
...catch some rays?
With their thinner, more sensitive skins, babies get sunburned a lot more quickly than even the most fair-haired adult.
What you need to know Once your baby is 6 months old, it's all right to have him in the sun for limited times, wearing sunblock. (Sunblock's fine for babies younger than that, too, but it's best to keep them out of the direct sun altogether.) In the summer, keep him indoors during peak sun hours -- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- but if you have to go out, dress him from head to toe in lightweight clothing, floppy sun hat, and all. (And sunglasses, too -- if he'll keep them on.)
...go for a dip?
When the weather gets warmer, when is it okay to expose a child to the chlorine in a pool or unknown funkiness in lake or ocean water?
What you need to know Six months is a reasonable age to take your child for a "swim" in your arms. Why wait that long? "I worry about younger infants getting too cold in the water, even in a heated pool. By six months they develop the ability to regulate their body temperature," says Dr. Roche. No matter where you swim, just make sure she doesn't swallow the water; bacteria, including those from other babies wearing (or not wearing) diapers, could be lurking. One concern to scratch off your list: your baby's skin being affected by the chlorine.
...play in the sandbox?
Since a baby's first instinct is to put things in his mouth, digging around in the sand can seem like a risky way to have fun.
What you need to know Dr. Roche, a mom of three girls, ages 5, 4, and 2, takes a relaxed approach. "Try not to let him swallow whole mouthfuls of the stuff or rub his eyes, and wash his hands afterward." If yours does ingest some sand, offer him some water -- and hope that he remembers how yucky it was next time he's tempted. (And don't be surprised by a sandy poop.)
...hit the playground?
When can she slide and swing?
What you need to know The size of the equipment is important, as are your baby's motor skills. Once she's able to sit on her own -- usually by 6 months -- she'll probably enjoy a gentle ride in a bucket swing. And if she's a pretty good climber and walker, she'll probably be able to go down a small slide by herself by the time she's 18 months.