Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Outdoor play -- even when there's no water for miles -- can pose other potential pitfalls. A sunburn or any unprotected sun exposure is chief among them, especially as the earth's protective ozone layer diminishes. The Environmental Protection Agency now predicts that the number of skin cancer cases will soar in the next four decades, causing an additional 200,000 deaths over that time.
Apply a waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to your child's exposed skin each time she goes out to play -- not just at the beach or the pool. Take special care on areas that are likely to burn, such as the nose, ears, shoulders, and around clothing or bathing suit lines. Reapply sunscreen every 90 minutes or so for maximum coverage, and limit the time spent in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are most intense. And have your child wear a hat with a wide brim whenever possible.
A backyard can be a safe haven for your toddler to play in, especially if it's fenced. Always supervise outdoor play; even in a fenced-in area, there can be unsuspected hazards. One often overlooked danger lurks in the leaves, berries, and flowers of certain plants, so canvass your backyard carefully for species that pose a hazard.