The only thing better than summertime is being a kid in the summertime. Whether you’re living the life at camp, making daily schleps to the town pool, or on a carefree staycation with the neighborhood kids, summertime and childhood are practically synonymous with happiness.
To ensure that your kiddos stay healthy, safe, and happy this summer, first, avoid the Sneaky Snack Effect, which can get out of control in the summer months. In addition, we’ve compiled this short, easy, go-to list of 5 Summer Essentials for Kids (and Their Parents).
1. Applesauce Pouches
As a dietician, it’s obvious that my list would start with fruits and veggies, right? Pouches are a shelf-stable, portable way to always have fruit on hand. Unlike other pouches—as in actual baby food—applesauce is great for older kids, too. This four-pack of pouches is not only organic, but it’s also just $3. Plus, Brandless partners with Feeding America, so every time you shop, you’re helping to feed someone else, too. Win-win!
2. Veggie Nuggets
I dare you to find me a kid that doesn’t love finger food. These delicious-yet-nutritious nuggets are great for a snack, lunch, or even a quick dinner. The recipe comes from fellow dietitian, Sally, at Real Mom Nutrition. I opted to bake, not fry, them at 400°F for 15 minutes, flipping them at the half-way point, or until pale golden brown.
Whether your kids are as pale as mine or if their skin is closer to ebony, sunscreen every day is vital. For my pale-to-translucent loved ones, I slather them with True Natural Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin SPF 50. It’s vegan, gluten-free, unscented, and non-greasy. Plus, it is top rated in the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Sunscreen, which vouches for its safety and quality.
4. Reusable water bottle
Even if your kids become virtual fish this summer and spend 90 percent of their waking time in the pool, ensuring that they drink enough (potable) water is paramount. For all of your day trips—whether it’s to the park down the block, the zoo a car ride away, or a bike ride around town—make sure your kids have a clean, BPA-free, ice-cold-water-filled, reusable bottle with them at all times. (I’m partial to stainless steel bottles, such as Siggs, myself.) For those crazy hot, mercury-busting days, just filling it with ice and letting the sun slowly melt it may be all that you need to keep your kid hydrated, even in the heat.
And last but seriously not least, your child’s mental and emotional health is just as important as his or her physical well-being. In the summertime, when they don’t have the intellectual stimulation of daily school and may be indulging in more screen time, daily story sessions with mom or dad are crucial. Set aside at least 15–30 minutes every day (or night) to snuggle up with your buttercup and their favorite story. Even if your kid is able to read chapter books to himself, the benefits of being read to by your parent has virtually no substitute. So do it, do it lovingly, and do it often.
Happy summer, everyone!