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Surviving the 4th of July with a baby or toddler

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OK, so this is our first 4th of July with a baby, but our dogs have always hated this holiday and I've been thinking about how the day will work with a baby this year. Here are some tips I've found for having a fun and safe 4th of July weekend for you and your baby.

Tip #1 - Food. In my research I found that the 4th of July weekend is one of the busiest times at the hospital for people suffering from food poisoning. The main reasons are because food isn't cooked fully or food sits out too long in the heat before being consumed. As our baby is now sampling what we eat, we will be paying extra attention to food safety this holiday! Grandma's famous potato salad, anyone? One of the staples at many BBQ's this weekend will be hot dogs, which happen to be the #1 food item that babies choke on. If your baby will be sampling a hot dog, be sure to always cut it lengthwise before offering it to your baby (no round pieces!). 

Tip #2 - Fireworks. We were asked by a family member recently if we were going to get sparklers for our daughter this 4th of July. Well, no. While our daughter might have fun watching them, sparklers can burn at 1800 degrees or more (temperatures that can melt metal) and they are the #1 cause of burns over the 4th of July weekend. So no, we will be avoiding them this year. And probably next year, too. Moving onto the "real" fireworks. Baby ears are very sensitive to loud noises, so it's also best that if you are going to watch a fireworks show to be far away from the fireworks or to keep your baby's ears covered during the show. Some suggestions I found are to use baby ear plugs (or nursing pads) under a hat to keep them in place, use baby-size noise cancelling ear phones, or place your hands over their ears.

Tip #3 - Sun Protection & Keeping Cool. Many of the parties this holiday weekend will be held outdoors, so it's important to pay attention to how much sun your baby is getting and to make sure that your baby isn't overheating or getting dehydrated.

Tip #4 - Keep the Trash Picked Up. Pay extra close attention to make sure all firecracker remnants are picked up and not left on the ground or anywhere else where your baby might be able to find them and put them in their mouth. Not only are they covered in nasty chemicals that are harmful to kids, but they can also be a choking hazard. The same goes for bottle caps from soda, water or beer. Bottle caps are the #2 non-food cause of choking in children. They're the perfect size for little hands to grasp and it's not uncommon at a big party to have a few bottle caps floating around.  

Tip #5 - Sleep. I'm already hearing from friends that their babies are being woken up in the evening by fireworks going off in the neighborhood. Fortunately we haven't had fireworks in our neighborhood yet, but I'm sure they will start any night now. We currently use a white noise app at bedtime, but we are planning on turning up the volume of the noise a couple of notches to see if that helps drown out any of the popping.

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