A Parent’s Guide to the 4th of July

Remember back when the 4th of July was all about backyard BBQs, drinking a couple (or more) adult beverages, and staying out late enough to see the fireworks? Yep… so do we! Now, if you’re not a parent to young kids, this might still be your reality – but for the rest of us, the 4th of July presents its own unique challenges. Here’s how you can enjoy yourself on the 4th of July, while also making sure your young ones are happy, safe, and content.

Keep hydration in mind.

The 4th of July tends to be hot and sunny in most parts of the U.S. and infants and small children might not express that they’re thirsty. Make sure you keep close tabs on the amount of fluids you’re providing your child. Easily double the amount of water, juice or milk your child drinks, and keep it all cool in an easy-to-access cooler. A little bit of icy water can go a long way toward safeguarding your kiddo from the ravages of the heat.

Keep the children out of the sun.

The 4th of July is a holiday that draws people outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you should accept the red, burnt skin and the accompanying tears that are hallmarks of a bad sunburn. Instead, dress your kids in clothing that provides UV protection, make them wear a wide-brimmed hat, and try to keep a pair of sunglasses on their face. Apply a liberal amount of sunscreen at least every two hours (more often is okay!), and don’t forget to cover yourself up, too!

Mother and daughter wearing sunglasses and looking at each other.

Think of your kids when planning activities.

More often than not, the simpler the agenda the better. So consider skipping the hours-long parades, crowded fairs, carnivals, and other classic 4th of July activities, and instead create a plan that minimizes hassles and crowds and keeps your kids as comfortable as possible. A gathering of family and friends in a nearby park, a day trip to the beach, or a simple backyard BBQ is all you need to have a great time, and having a place to escape to (a shady spot under a tree in a park or a cool, dark guest bedroom in the home) may help regulate your baby or small child’s temperature. Simply put, the bigger the event, the bigger the hassles.

Bugs don’t consider the 4th a holiday.

Is there anything worse than dealing with swarming mosquitoes or annoying flies while outside in the backyard or your neighborhood park? Keep bugs in mind when planning your 4th of July activities, because they will certainly not forget you or your little ones. Apply bug spray to babies over two months of age, and/or use a mosquito net around their car seat or stroller to keep as many bugs away as possible. While most bug bites are simply uncomfortable or painful, some bugs can transmit diseases – making it all the more important to keep you and your kiddos safe this summer.

Family grilling in the park to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Skip the alcohol.

You’re always your child’s designated driver, so skip the cold beer or festive mixed drink this 4th and instead opt for a frosty soda or refreshing iced tea. Remember – besides the obvious safety factor in foregoing alcohol, there are a million DUI checkpoints in place over the 4th of July holiday, and the last thing you need is a legal problem. Hang it up for a day and you’ll be better prepared to handle the inevitable baby meltdowns and cranky cries that come along with long days in the sun.

View the fireworks from far away.

Odds are pretty good that your baby will not remember this holiday, so don’t feel bad that your little one doesn’t have an upfront and personal view of your chosen fireworks show. Being too close to the action may scare your little one, and spending your time calming a screaming baby is no one’s idea of fun. That, plus the potential for smoke inhalation and hearing damage – not to mention the disapproving glares you’ll receive from other onlookers, is enough to make this choice a no-brainer.

Group of friends and family watching the fireworks.

Consider keeping junior at home with a sitter.

It’s true – any child under one year of age won’t understand what the 4th of July really means, so consider leaving him or her with a parent, family member, or trusted child care provider while you enjoy the day. You aren’t required to be in physical contact with your baby at all times, and a few hours away talking with other adults might be just what you need. If this feels like the right thing to do, embrace it! Your little one will be happy to see you once the evening wears down.

The 4th of July is a fun and festive time that emphasizes togetherness and patriotism. If you’re the parent or guardian of a small child or infant, keep these tips in mind to ensure your holiday plans go off without a hitch.

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