(Florida Today) -- Now that I have a little princess, there's one place that all princesses must go: Disney World.
But Isabella's only 6 weeks old. I'm certainly no expert, but common sense tells me bringing a baby to a theme park in the Florida heat isn't such a good idea.
It's tempting — my wife and I love going to Disney — but I know I'm going to have to wait to take Isabella to the "Happiest Place on Earth."
But how long must I wait? When can Isabella be out in the sun for extended periods? When can I ride Space Mountain again?
For answers to these questions — at least some of them — I turned to Health First Medical Group dermatologist Dr. Larry Bishop.
He explained that the sun isn't necessarily the biggest worry when having a young infant out in the Florida heat.
Here's his take: "Thermal regulation is how well a baby can control heat inside its body. We, as adults, have it. A baby doesn't have it developed too well at all. They have a poor ability to sweat. They can't control temperature as well as you and I. If they overheat, they can't control their environment by going inside to cool down, getting water, things we can do."
Bishop advises keeping babies younger than 6 months out of the sun as much as possible, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
He said: "From multiple standpoints, it's a bad idea, especially at Disney, where it's a slogfest, going place to place. A baby can't communicate if it's thirsty or woozy. It's a bad idea."
So, Dr. Bishop, what is the earliest I can take Isabella to Disney?
"Two years old. The reason I say this is because they are able to communicate, at least somewhat, at that age. They can let you know if they are thirsty. If they are too hot, they let you know."
However, he's quick to point out 2 isn't necessarily the safest age, just the earliest he would recommend.
"If you or I went to Disney, we'd have different heat tolerability. At 2, not all babies are good to go. There are certain predispositions that some have that others do not. If a child is fair-skinned and blue-eyed, they might be at a higher risk compared with a child with darker skin."
My final query had to do with sunscreen. Is there a certain kind I should use for a baby?
Bishop said: "Custom products made for babies are perfectly adequate. But a better answer than sunscreen is a physical blocker. Have loose, light clothing designed for babies out in the sun. Have long sleeves with light, breathable fabric that is opaque to ultraviolet rays. And put a hat on them. It's the best you can do. Forget about sunscreen, use a blocker."
However, he did heed a couple of warnings if you must use sunscreen on a baby: "Don't use nanoparticle sunscreens. Make sure it doesn't have zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Baby skin is so much more porous than our skin and is more likely to absorb nanoparticles. They can get in the immune system, lymph nodes and certain cells in the liver. Also avoid sunscreens with insect repellent such as DEET. Children are much more susceptible to toxins in insect repellent. You definitely need to avoid these, particularly in children younger than 2."
That's a lot to take in.
The moral of the story: It's going to be a few years before Isabella makes her first journey to the Magic Kingdom. She probably won't remember it until she's 4 or 5 anyway.
So I guess, over the next few years, if I want to plummet down Splash Mountain, enjoy the buffet in Germany at Epcot or end my night with Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, I'll have to ask one of Isabella's grandmas to do some royal baby-sitting.
After all, it's the circle of life.