Baby Staying Safe in the Summer Sun and Understanding SPF


Do you miss the sun throughout the winter but in the summer months feel like you should live in a cave to protect your infant’s delicate skin from the sun? You are not alone in your frustration. A cave may not be necessary, but the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that sun protection should begin in infancy and continue throughout life.

However, the AAD warns, “It may only take 15 minutes of midday summer sun to burn a fair-skinned (child).” Dr. Aundria Speropoulos, a pediatrician at Child Care Limited in Kansas City, MO, also warns parents, “Infant skin is more likely to burn in a short time. I have seen infants with second-degree burns (blisters) to their faces because the parent thought the baby would be safe on a cloudy day at a sibling’s soccer game.”

Consider these American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Recommendations:

Younger than 6 months
Try to keep out of the sun. If complete shade is unavailable, use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and back the hands. (Light colored clothing that is tightly woven, covered strollers and sun umbrellas are also recommended.)

Older than 6 months
Apply (sunscreen) to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes.

What is SPF?

Dr. Trisha Prossick, a Shawnee Mission, KS dermatologist with American Dermatology Associates, says, “Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of protection against only UVB rays. It does not reflect protection against UVA; but both UVA and UVB are damaging to the skin.”

How Much Protection Is Enough?

“Most baby products on the market have an SPF greater than 30: The higher the SPF, the higher the UVB ray protection,” Speropoulos says. “Parents need to buy a product with ‘broad spectrum’ coverage, which means UVA and UVB ray protection. Products with a physical barrier such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer even greater safety from the sun.”

Five young friends in swimming pool smilingApply and Reapply Sunscreen

Prossick suggests, “Sunscreens should be applied 20 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and should be reapplied after 2 hours or after any swimming. Even water resistant sunscreens lose efficacy in the water after 40 minutes and should be reapplied.”

Treatment for Sunburn

“Once you get the sunburn, you have done the damage, and there is not much to do other than alleviate the symptoms,” Prossick says. “Therefore, prevention is the best medicine. Tylenol or ibuprofen can help with the pain or discomfort.”

NOTE: Make sure to check with your medical provider for correct dosing and use the appropriate measuring device (i.e. manufacturer’s provided measuring cup or a medication syringe from the pharmacy).

Prossick also says, “Cool water or whole milk compresses can be applied for 20 minutes at a time to provide a cooling and soothing effect. If you choose to do the milk compresses, please wash it off afterwards. Moisturizers with or without aloe and over the counter hydrocortisone can also provide some relief.”

Recommended Products for Sensitive Skin

Speropoulos tells parents to look for “hypo-allergenic, fragrance and dye-free sunscreen. There are so many good choices these days, but I like Neutrogena baby, California baby or Aveeno baby.”

Are Darker Skin Tones Safe?

According to Mayo Clinic, “You need to use sunscreen even if you have darker skin pigment, tan easily and can tolerate longer periods of sun exposure without burning. The sun’s energy damages DNA of skin cells.”

The hardest part of protecting your child is remembering to get the sunscreen on the child and then reapplying at the correct time. A sunburn can take up to 24 hours to fully develop, so don’t think if you don’t see a pink tinge on your child, she is safe.

Finally, before you leave for your sun outing, don’t forget to check expiration dates on your sunscreens. They lose potency after expiration and will be ineffective for proper sun protection.

(previously posted on NML on 6/16/10)

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Drama Queen Daughter Crying Over Spilled Yogurt

drama queen daughter



Time for a Drama Queen Intervention

(Stacey Hatton, RN) Do you happen to have melodramatic, or as I like to say Drama Queen daughter in your home? In the medical world, we say these creative kids are predominately using their right-brain more than the analytical or left-side of the brain.

At our house we are a 50-50 brain split. My husband, the engineer has his mini-version of himself (our cute – but girly daughter, Munchkin #1) and this writer/nurse/ex-theatre gal has a “mini-me.” (Prayers are welcomed!)

It works out great during family arguments as long as you don’t mind tie breakers to be implemented with every household vote. Coin tosses or Paper, Rock, Scissors usually do the trick.

Several years ago, when my munchkins were five and six, it was a beautiful day with the normal balance of drama queen-ness and sweet giggles coming from my daughters. We had changed activities only 43 times and it was only 10:20am, so basically it was a smooth sailing day!

When out of the blue, a darting figure entered the kitchen, swiped a yogurt out of the refrigerator and without any warning, she took a strawberry yogurt and squirted it all over the hardwood floors. An odd practice for one of our girls, but who am I to judge?

Normally, the next thing you would hear is one of the munchkins hollering for me to come clean up their mess or one tattling on the other; but the strangest string of events occurred. A scream echoed from the other room, followed by soft cries that crescendoed into panicked wails.

“Mom, come quick! Yogurt… (sob, sob) …is…” Munchkin #1’s voice trails off into hysterical tears.

I slide around the corner to find a small yogurt container which has been jimmied open by young fingers. A tiny portion of the contents had dripped onto the floor. And for some reason, a tablespoon of the mixture is rubbed into a pink mitten. Why the children have mittens in May is beyond me, and why they are wearing them to open yogurt containers is something that only a child of mine could justify.

Normally my drama queen daughters would NOT be crying relentlessly about spilled yogurt; or even notice they made a mess, but malay had ensued in the fullest degree. Without some sort of intervention, these young ones weren’t going to gain control.

After practicing some deep breathing exercises and various yoga poses to calm them down, their breathing returned to a natural pattern. I felt it was safe at this time to begin the interrogation process.

“So you wanted some yogurt for a snack? Good choice!” I smiled.

(They both nodded affirmatively, with lips quivering.)

Praising their efforts, I said, “Those yogurt lids are really hard to open, huh?”

(They repeated with the head nodding.)

I continued, “Boy, I hate it when yogurt spills on the floor, don’t you?”

“WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!” Munchkin #1 started crying uncontrollably again.

Ah, crap! What did I say? It’s freaking yogurt!!

“Please don’t make us get rid of our favorite pink mittens. I don’t want to give them to kids who don’t have any!” wailed the oldest drama queen.

Sometimes when we lead by example to demonstrate kindness and goodwill, apparently it can backfire. I didn’t know this until that morning.

Perhaps I’ve have been donating too many clothes to good will lately.

Also, it might be a good time to start teaching them about the art of laundry.

Please join me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest to swap stories. I love hearing about other moms who have daily drama at home. Do your kids do OK with you donating items of theirs? Any tricks?


Making my Daughter Cry was a Cinch


One of my munchkins gets blocked tear ducts. She usually wakes up with it, and startles the family every time because she resembles Rocky Balboa. Young moms at Target run the opposite direction, shielding their babies from my daughter. We have to avoid the ER for fear of being assigned an abuse caseworker.

For most people who get repeated duct problems, you apply a warm washcloth to the affected area, and whatever is blocking the duct will fall out from the dilated hole. Doesn’t take much to fix this problem. Sounds easy enough, right? Genetics sometimes slaps you in the face. But as long as there isn’t an infection, it’s easy breezy to take care of.

The other morning my daughter came downstairs to show off her fat eye.

“Mom, my eye hurts again,” she complained.

Looking at it closer, I check to make sure she doesn’t have pink eye, a sty, or blue eyeliner. She’s eight, so I’m fairly certain the latter isn’t an issue. It’s just the nurse in me, covering all bases.

“Honey, looks like you have another blocked tear duct,” I say reassuringly.

“Well get it out, already!”

Patience is something we are working on.

After several attempts to get the bugger to pop, I try to remember what I had done the last time to cure her. Pushing Momnesia aside, I remembered she had a stubborn one that lasted five days. But what had been the final therapy to get her eye back to a normal size?

She cried.


So my snarling child, who was irritated that she had THIS again was more mad than sad. Could I, as her mother, make her cry without any reason to punish her? She hadn’t done anything wrong yet. It was 8:00am.

I couldn’t order a cranky, tired girl to take a shower, producing several types of waterworks. She was well rested and smelling clean from bathing the night before.

I could pinch her hard or pull her hair. But I gave that up on the playground in 1975. The thought of hurting a child was bringing ME to tears!

What if I lied to her, telling some horrific story? Would I be forgiven later and how much would the therapy bills set me back? She had to cry and I was the only one who could help my poor baby.

After considerable contemplation, I knew what I must do.

“I have something to ask you,” I meekly said. “Have you ever thought about what would happen if you couldn’t see me every day?”

I have no idea where this stupid question came from or what direction I was going. I just let it sneak out of my mouth and quickly regretted my decision.

“Or Daddy? What if you could only see him every other weekend?”

Worst Mom ever. I totally suck! WTH?

My sweet sensitive girl looked up at me with her long eyelashes, and I flashed back to when she was the perfect baby in my arms.

“Why would you say that?” she painfully asked.

Wanting to take back my words, I said, “It won’t happen to you. But there are some kids who have to divide their time with their parents. Wouldn’t that be hard?”

Seriously, I was going to pay for this damage; but at least she wouldn’t lose an eye.

I watched tears slowly appear. Then to my surprise, she threw her head back and wailed. An excruciating noise which if in a Greek tragedy, would have turned me deaf until the end of time.

At this point, I was rooting for crocodile tears. “Tsk, tsk-ing” and “I know-ing” until she produced the real deal.

She sobbed, “How do kids do that? If Daddy couldn’t kiss me goodnight every night, it would be the worst thing ever!!”

Knowing she had produced enough tears and watching the blocked duct open up like Mt. St. Helens, she continued to drown the collar of her shirt.

“Now you know this will never happen to you, right?” I said in my most convincing tone. “Your Daddy and I love each other too much to do that to you girls.”

“Really? (sniff, hiccup) You promise?” she begged.

What have I done here? For the love of jumbo-sized tissue boxes, I’m scaring the crap out of her.

After she calmed down and I rocked her on my lap, I realized something. Geesh, it hardly took any prodding to get this child to produce real tears! Less than 15 seconds.

What a talent! Give this girl her close up, Hollywood. This Mama is prepping her munchkin for her starring role.

I guess I could have turned on the movie Steele Magnolias or Terms of Endearment.

Huh. Didn’t think of that one.


Is That a Kitten Around Your Neck

fashion woman portrait
Once upon a time, in a year far, far away (2013) there was a family of four who desperately wanted a kitten. ONE kitten.

However, one day the weak, weak mother – who loves cute and fluffy things – melted at the animal shelter, and signed off on two darling 11-week old kittens: one was a grey/white tabby and the other a calico. How was she going to explain this one to her Hubby?

Blaming it on poor math skills. That’s the ticket.

So unbeknownst to the weak mother, Calico cats are shy, skittish and usually bond with one person only. Since the mom worked from home, she became the target of that kitten’s love. The Calico’s typical response to the children was, “What do you want from me? Piss off!”

Apparently, this cat is quite expressive also.

As you can imagine, the grey and white kitten was the favorite of the daughters. And after that poor, clumsy kitten suffered brain damage the first week, adoption for that little darling was looking slim. Oh, she was cute and lovable, but 30 days of kitty puddle poo on the new carpet wasn’t going to make happy owners.

A thirty day return policy at the shelter was honored, and due to severe guilt – the family didn’t ask for their money back.

Now did you know that if you return a cat to a shelter they put you on some kind of deviant pet hater list? I didn’t either. I’m not sure if that lovely family is even allowed back on their property, although the animal shelter would love to take their money and have them subscribe to their mailing list.

When did the ASPCA get so radical? You have millions of kittens around the country, who need a good home and you reject a responsible pet owner because she didn’t like mopping up cat diarrhea for the rest of the cats life? Plus, the poor button was brain damaged. You people really need to get off your high horse!

Who else would baby kitten-proof their house for 2 years, so no other cats would fall from the stairway. One accident, it’s a rarity. Twice…time for some gates! Now what irresponsible pet owner would let their house look like this?



View from kitchen eating area. Blech!

View from kitchen eating area. Blech!

So secretly for a year, the mother attempted to get another kitten and was rejected time and time again. She needed to find a way around it. The girls had been promised a kitten that they could love and the parents “ditched” that one, and the other cat didn’t want anything to do with them.

Well, it was time for desperate measures. One year passed, and obviously honesty and playing by the rules wasn’t working with this gang of animal protectors.

Sneaking into a new pet store and dressed incognito (t-shirt, yoga pants and sunglasses), the mother inquired about a fuzzy little ball of love. This kitten was 3 months old, a grey tabby and snuggled into your neck like the love bucket he was. He was perfect!

Whispering to her daughter, the mother said, “Don’t say a word. And whatever you do, don’t mention the other cat or they won’t give us this guy.”

After filling out the paperwork “almost” thoroughly, and the animal shelter was notified, the family was FINALLY the owner of 2 kitties.


Even though they originally only wanted one, but you see the justification, right?

Naming this youngling “Cousin Vinny” was decided and all was just as it should be. He pooped in his box, he played with the girls and snuggled around everyone’s neck like a fur stole.

Cousin Vinny

Cousin Vinny

Now if the mother could train him to not sit around her neck and leave scratch marks trying to hold on, this kitty would be perfect.

But don’t worry, this family has learned their lesson. They are NOT getting rid of this one. Ever. Because that would entail dealing with the protective pet posse again. And frankly, they are scared.

I guess I should also mention that cats have been on my brain lately. Literally and figuratively. One of my essays about the kitten who became brain damaged, is published in a new anthology. It’s actually funny.


If you would like a copy, I can get ’em cheap! Email me at or IM me on Facebook. I’d love to share these funny stories with a cat lover! You could be getting a head start on your holiday shopping too!! 🙂 Stacey


I Loves my Skabetti

As many of you know, my munchkins are polar opposites. This even applies to their food palate.

Munchkin #1 is a near-vegetarian. She whole-heartedly claims to be a vegetarian; however, she will eat a turkey hotdog at the drop of a hat. I’m not sure there is a category for a kinda herbivore because I’m pretty sure the vegans and RAW foodies won’t take her into their club.

Munchkin #2 has much more of a normal appetite for a 7 year old. She is becoming more adventurous every day and for that I am thankful. Of course as soon as she gets to the table, she will whine and say, “Ew. That looks awful!” But then she will try it, find she enjoys it, and sometimes even asks for seconds. We are almost there with M2.

There are only a handful of meals that my entire family will eat without a complaint. This would be spaghetti and pizza. Everything else, all bets are off! I guess two probably doesn’t even count as a handful does it?

We have issues here, people!!

Dinner time is like World War III every night and it just makes me want to have cereal instead or force feed them through IV’s. (Which of course would be VERY wrong and I would never do. Seriously. But wouldn’t it be easier?)

Since everyone in my family loves spaghetti, I fix it probably every other week. This keeps me sane and it isn’t so frequent we detest it. Also, I have to admit…Munchkin #2 has the cutest way of saying it:


She has been calling it that since she first started talking and we have never corrected her until…well, OK last year. It was so cute and we all liked to call it that too.

She used to call desserts, “recipeats” and we put the kibosh on that one in Kindergarten, so we had to keep something fun at the table alive, right? Good times wasn’t going to be us saying, “You need to take 3 bites of that.”

The problem is now that M2 has been saying “skabetti” for so long, she can’t seem to get the correct pronunciation out of her mouth. Did we keep that one going too long?

We have been sitting around the table trying to help her:

M2: Skabetti…

Me: Honey, it’s spaghetti.

M1: SPAAAAA-ghetti

Me: M1, you don’t need to help your sister with this one. She knows you already know how to say it. You’ve told her FIVE times now!

M2: Skabetti, skabetti, sbabetti! (she smiles thinking she got it with the last one)


Me: OK, you are up to six times, M1.

M1: She is not learning it, so I’m trying to help.

Me: By yelling at her?

M1: …

Different versions of this conversation have occurred more times than I care to admit, but it wasn’t really a problem for her. Munchkin#2 didn’t eat spaghetti at school, so she never had to say it in front of anyone, until this week.

We invited over some friends for dinner, who have 2 young girls approximately the same ages as the Munchkins. Trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I knew it was going to have to be pizza or spaghetti. Since this was the first time to have them over, I thought we’d get extra fancy and go with spaghetti! I know you all are impressed and jealous.

As the Munchkins and I were discussing the menu, M2 kept slipping up on the main course.

M2: Do their girls like skabetti?


Me: M1, it’s OK if she doesn’t get it right. Maybe the other girls can’t say it right either. It’s an Italian word, so it’s more difficult than English.

M1: Fine. (irritated)

Me: So how about salad and garlic bread?

M2: We should have plain red sauce and meat sauce for the skabetti.

M1: OK!!!! (throwing hands up in the air) Call them up. This party is cancelled!

I’m so glad Munchkin #1 has such clear coping skills for conflict. We might need to work on this too!

Do your kids fight over silly little things like this that drive you nuts? Please share with me in the comments, so I don’t feel alone in this mommy-overload!!!

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