How to Have a Successful BBQ With a Baby!by Jodie Keith
With summer approaching, BBQ season is upon us... hopefully, at least! In the UK, the weather is extremely unreliable, and so many people, like me, like to have things organised and ready to go – that way, in the case of good weather, it can simply be whacked out and you’re good to go. You won't find any last minute dashes to B&Q for some charcoal over here! When you have a family, barbecues can look a little bit different to pre baby, and the idea of being outdoors in the sun all day can be a little bit daunting for some. Here are my top tips on how to have a successful BBQ with a baby or young child!
Basic BBQ Safety
Keeping your baby safe is of utmost priority and so of course this has to come first. Whether you're hosting a summer BBQ at your house, or you're visiting friends or family, you want to make sure that your baby is safe at all times. Whether the BBQ in question is charcoal or gas, there's serious safety implications to consider to make sure your child is safe, such as:
- If your baby can crawl or walk, could they access the BBQ? This could be a potential danger if your back was turned, even for a few seconds - we all know how quick children can be when we're not watching! Think about where the BBQ can be placed so it’s out of reach, or even fenced or gated off if possible.
- If you're using gas, consider where the gas canister and any back ups are being stored. Make sure these are not accessible and securely locked away.
- Make sure the BBQ is attended at all times. If the person barbecuing needs to leave, make sure someone else tags in.
- When you've enjoyed all the lovely BBQ food and your time has come to an end, remember that a BBQ can stay hot for a very long time, so you still want to make sure your child is no where near, even if you finished cooking 3 hours ago.
- If your child is of an age they can understand you and follow instructions then be sure to explain the dangers of a BBQ to them and lay out some rules. If a child is aware of their expectations and boundaries beforehand, it is much easier for them to know how they should be behaving and what they can and can't do. Remember, to a child, a BBQ might look super exciting and intriguing!
Staying Safe In The Sun
As a parent, you should already be aware of the dangers of the sun, and take precautions to keep your children safe in the sun and hot weather. If you’re not sure, here’s a reminder of some of the things you can do to stay safe in the sun at a BBQ with your baby this summer:
- Stay in the shade as much as possible (but remember it is still possible to burn in the shade!)
- Use the highest factor sun cream as possible, spf factor 50+ is great!
- Consider dressing your baby or child in clothing with built in UPF50 protection to further protect their skin from the sun.
- Top up sun cream regularly, even more so if your child is getting wet (such as in a paddling pool!), wiped (for example being wiped down after getting grubby eating food!) or changes clothes (different areas of skin may be exposed that were covered by different clothing before).
- Keep hydrated. If you have a young baby, continue feeding (both breast or formula) as you normally would, but feel free to offer smaller amounts of milk more frequently. If you are extremely concerned about dehydration you can give cooled boiled water to a baby under 6 months, however we recommend seeking medical advice prior to doing so. If your baby is already weaning, you can offer tap water.
- Watch out for signs of dehydration such as urinating less frequently, dark or smelly urine, fatigue, excessive thirst, feeling dizzy etc. In a baby, look out for the soft spot on their head – if this is sunken, this could be a sign of dehydration: seek medical advice if so.
For us adults, BBQ’s are about good food and good company. For babies and young children, this isn’t always enough – they want to be entertained and kept busy, too! To have a successful BBQ with a baby, you’ll want to have a trove of toys at the ready to get out when needed. Some ideas for easy entertainment at a BBQ are:
- Bubbles! All children love bubbles, and they’re great for a garden BBQ. Get a bubble machine or bubble wand at the ready and they’ll be ecstatic!
- Sand and water table. Always a winner – if you have a sand and water table, fill it up, add some buckets, spades and digger trucks and your child will happily play for hours (hopefully!).
- Treasure basket and sensory toys – for younger babies, treasure baskets are like a dream come true. A basket to explore of things with different textures and sounds that they can bash, throw and bite. Treasure baskets have always kept my children busy for ages, so fingers crossed you get the same luck! If your baby is older, or you have a young child, why not try taking a travel sized amount of a sensory toy such as sensory rainbow rice? Pop them down on a picnic blanket in the shade with some bowls and spoons and watch them scoop and pour to their heart's content. It's always a winner in our family, so I hope it is for you, too.
- Books – a winner no matter your baby or child’s age. We all know how important it is to read to babies and children, and they tend to love looking at picture books and being read to, so why not pop to the library and get some new, special BBQ only books?! Don't forget if you have a new baby you are entitled to free books in England - make sure to claim yours!
- Favourite toys – whatever your baby or child is currently loving, pop it in a bag or basket and take it with you! No one will judge you for taking a big bag full of toys or even a play mat to entertain your baby at a BBQ – I’m sure they’ll appreciate the forethought.
- Teethers - if you have a young baby that is teething, whatever you do - don't forget to take some teethers! There's nothing worse than an aggy, teething baby. Am I right or am I right?!
As nice as it is to experiment with fun flavours and dishes at a BBQ, you also want to make sure that there are some choices of more simple food available for your more fussy, younger guests. Especially in the heat, it’s important they eat! Hold of the seasoning and spices on a few pieces of meat, have some refreshing and hydrating fruit available, and ask your child what they would like to eat. If you’re going to someone else’s house, take a packed lunch for your child or baby so that if they don’t like the food available, they don’t go hungry.
There you have it, some tips on how to have a successful BBQ with a baby. Most importantly, though: have fun and relax! Enjoy it!