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Tailgating with Toddlers

Whether you're kicking off football season at a day-long tailgate party, or heading out to the parade route during Carnival season, outdoor celebrations are often a family affair that include children of all ages. Here is some advice for keeping your little fans safe this season no matter what the activity may be. 

Protect children from too much sun exposure.

Not only can too much sun make children sick, but it can also cause permanent damage to the skin and boost their risk for skin cancer later in life.  When children are outdoors for any activity, including tailgating follow these tips:

  • Apply at least an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen with broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage to kids six months and older throughout the day.  Begin applying 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply as your child sweats. 
  • Set up your child’s play area under a tent or in the shade.
  • Dress children in comfortable clothing, complete with team hat and sunglasses.

Keep children hydrated.

  • Keep children hydrated by bringing plenty of water. Children can be especially sensitive to the heat.  If they are running and playing, they will need extra hydration to replenish lost fluids.
  • Bring child-friendly snacks and foods that can be enjoyed throughout the day without the risk of spoiling and follow all food safety guidelines for serving food outdoors. 
  • As alcohol is often present at tailgate parties, I suggest that a sober adult supervise the children at all times.  Do NOT drink and drive at anytime.

Avoid getting lost.

With game day festivities drawing thousands it only takes a second for children to become lost in a crowd. 

  • Have family and kid-friendly activities in your tailgate area to keep your child occupied and to reduce their chances of wandering off and becoming lost.
  • Plan in advance a designated, common meeting place in case a child does become lost. 
  • Remember what your child is wearing. Dress your child in something very unique – a special hat or arm band –something that stands out so that it is easier to spot them among other fans. 
  • When navigating game day traffic on foot, keep children close and make sure they know the rules for safely crossing streets. 

Take your time and prepare for high noise levels.

  • Allow plenty of time to enter so that children do not feel rushed or crowded on the stairs.
  • Prepare your child for the noise level.  Bring foam or wax earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones for small children to help reduce noise.

Take time beforehand to explain the overall feel of a football game to their children so that mom, dad and child can enjoy the experience together.

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