Safe eclipse viewing with 1 year old?
August 20, 2017 8:00 AM   Subscribe

We are traveling to the path of totality as I type! We also have a one year old toddler with us and a debate between his parents: can he safely be outside?

We have extra solar glasses, but he probably won't wear them. He also may not try to look at the sun. But we can't guarantee that. Should we just keep him inside? How can we make sure his eyes are safe? Googling yields almost nothing....
posted by aoleary to Science & Nature (11 answers total)
Based on my efforts to get my almost three year old to look at specific birds, airplanes, etc, I would be skeptical that at that age he'd look at the sun even if you were desperately asking him to and pointing to it frantically. Maybe throw on a hat with a big front bill/brim so it's hard for him to accidentally look up if for some reason he decides to, and go enjoy?
posted by olinerd at 8:04 AM on August 20, 2017 [9 favorites]

Yeah I mean other than the fact that you may be looking at the sun, it's not different than any other day is it?

Also keep in mind we don't have rashes of children blinding themselves by looking at the sun. Kid's little lizard brain knows not to do that, generally.

I say go with big hat and plan on having someone point him elsewhere when lots of grown ups will be staring at the sun.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:19 AM on August 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

Who has to stay inside with him if you opt to keep him inside? I would not force him inside. If he is napping at that time, I would not wake him, but otherwise put him in his stroller and face it away from the sun. Give him food, drink and a toy. You should also have food, an adult drink and enjoy.
posted by AugustWest at 8:34 AM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would add that have him face you in a stroller watching you two looking at the sun with your funny glasses. If he reaches for them, give him his own pair. Make it into a game. If he is strapped into a stroller awake or asleep, you control what he looks at.
posted by AugustWest at 8:36 AM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

The incidences of eye damage are fairly lowlook here
Though being careful isn't a bad thing.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:26 AM on August 20, 2017

The sun is no more dangerous on Monday than it is any other day. I find it highly unlikely that he'll even notice anything going on with the sun, other than the fact that everyone else is looking up. Let him wear your glasses for a while. He'll enjoy it, but probably never look up at the sun.
posted by hydra77 at 9:50 AM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

Glancing at the sun doesn't do damage - staring does. If he's never stared at the sun before I don't think you need to worry.
posted by Amanda B at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2017

At 1, he's not going to have any concept of how the sun and moon work or that this is special in any way; there will be zero compulsion to look at the sun. Bring toys and sunscreen.

The real danger zone is between about 7 and...I dunno, 27? When you have a strong sense of your own invincibility and reject the safety mechanisms of The Man and will override the instinct to look away since you are special and above all that. Those are the kids they aren't letting outside tomorrow, or putting cardboard boxes over their heads.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:24 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was able to observe a full solar eclipse about 20 years ago. With the exception of the actual minute or so when the moon was covering the sun from view there was no noticeable difference in daylight. I was at work that day and went to work and we just stood outside for a few minutes during the main action. I didn't even bother with the extra dark glasses because frankly, I looked up briefly a couple of times until that point, stared with my normal shades whilst the sun was basically covered and went back inside immediately after. Your little one will be completely oblivious.

What was noticeably different was: no traffic as everybody was watching, what traffic there was was quite dangerous - on my way to work I observed a lorry driver trying to look at the partial eclipse whilst approaching a set of red traffic lights. He almost took out the traffic light post whilst fiddling with his glasses...due to the general lack of traffic he didn't hurt anybody and was able to avoid the crash. But what I am getting at is that the eclipse as such is minimally dangerous, what is dangerous is the way normally sensible people react to it. So watch out for that.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:08 PM on August 20, 2017

FWIW, my wife runs a summer camp program and they are keeping the kids indoors. They have no confidence they can keep the kids from staring at the sun without safety glasses. These are 3-8 years.
posted by COD at 2:35 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the day off with my kid tomorrow (2yo) and we're just going to paint inside.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:36 PM on August 20, 2017

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