Protecting your Baby from the Sun
What you can do to keep wee ones safe from the sun this summer.
Beaches, wading pools and sandboxes... summer is all about fun in the sun! But there’s nothing fun about a sunburned baby. Wee ones are especially vulnerable to the sun's burning rays.
Your baby’s skin is very fragile. Their skin protection system has not yet developed making their skin is more sensitive and thinner than an adult's. As a result, it burns more easily. If your little one is exposed to too much sun, he can suffer from a sunburn before you even realize it. In addition to the pain it causes, sunburn can cause skin damage in infants as well as dehydration and fever. According to the The Skin Cancer Foundation, parents aren't doing enough to protect babies and toddlers, and a single blistering sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma later in life.
What you can do to keep wee ones safe from the sun this summer...
Stay in the shade
For babies that are less than 6 months, the safest sun is no sun at all. Avoid being in the sun during peak exposure hours from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., stay in the shade outdoors, and invest in a durable umbrella or pop-up shade tent for the beach, pool or backyard.
Sun safe clothing
Dress your baby regularly in a brimmed hat (at least 3 inches) and lightweight, loose clothing that fully covers the arms and legs. Light-coloured clothing won't attract the sun’s rays as much as darker fabrics. UV sun safe clothing and swimwear is very helpful for babies and toddlers, especially to small infants who can't yet wear sunscreen.
Protect their eyes
Sunglasses that filter out UV are also very important, since the melanin in babies’ eyes is still forming. You can find baby-sized versions with soft elastic straps to help keep the glasses on.
Protect them during car rides
Car rides can lead to unintended sun exposure. Glass screens do filter out most UVB rays, but UVA rays can penetrate windows. Buy a UV shield, which you can hang over any window where sunlight reaches the child’s car seat. Also dress your baby in sun-protective clothing when in the car.
Don’t forget baby gear: your stroller’s umbrella, your baby carrier's hood, and a receiving blanket tucked into your diaper bag will all help shield baby from the sun.
Sunscreen at 6 months
Once your baby reaches the age of 6 months, it’s time to introduce sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF 15+ sunscreen. Many companies have tear-free formulas that won't sting baby's eyes. Look at the active ingredients; zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good choices, because these physical filters don’t rely on absorption of chemicals and are less apt to cause a skin reaction. You want to test sunscreen on the inside of your baby’s wrist. If you child has a little irritation, try another sunscreen. Use sunscreen on all exposed areas, paying special attention to areas such as the back of the hands, face, ears, neck, back of knees and feet if exposed. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out and reapply it every two hours or more frequently if you take your baby into the pool or if he is sweating. Even when it's cloudy, the sun hasn't gone away. It’s simply hiding behind clouds. Clouds don’t block UV rays so sun safety rules apply at all times.
While babies need extra attention when it comes to the sun, the above rules apply to children as well. If your baby does get a severe sunburn, it must be treated as an emergency and you should seek immediate medical care.
Be sun smart and enjoy your summer with baby!
For more tips on protecting your baby from the sun, visit: www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/children/infants.