We all know that spending an afternoon out in the sun without sunscreen is not a good idea. Keep reading to learn about sun protection for babies and children.
Why is sun protection so important?
Getting sunburned is very painful and uncomfortable, and it causes skin damage. If this is the damage we suffer, imagine the impact on a baby! A baby getting sunburned is quite different from an adult. The same exposure to the sun is much more serious for them. It can cause dehydration, fever, blisters, heatstroke, and even become a medical emergency.
Your baby’s skin is very sensitive, thin, and contains very little melanin (skin pigment that protects from the sun). For this reason, it gets sunburned easily and, even if it doesn’t become a medical emergency, sunburns can cause permanent damage. As parents, it is very important to take proper measures to protect your little one from the sun. Here are a few tips to keep them safe.
Basic tips for sun safety
When you go out:
- Avoid direct sunlight when your baby is less than 6 months old.
- Dress them in light clothing that covers their arms and legs. Choose bright colors and tightly woven fabrics, so the sun rays can’t penetrate.
- Use a hat that protects their face, neck, and ears.
- Try to walk under the shadow as much as possible.
- Use a stroller with a sunshade.
- Avoid going out between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
- If you go out to have lunch, try to eat inside. If you can’t, look for the shade of umbrellas or trees.
- Don’t be fooled by cloudy days, despite not seeing the sun, the UVB / UVA rays will still burn you and your baby.
Riding in the car:
- Place your baby’s car seat in the middle of the car to keep your baby away from sunny windows.
- If possible, place sun-blocking panels on your windows; these artifacts help reduce the entry of ultraviolet rays.
Should I apply sunscreen or not?
This question about sun protection has created a lot of debate among experts. On one hand, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) and the Skin Cancer Foundation don’t recommend applying sunscreen to infants younger than 6 months, since their skin is more sensitive to chemicals that the creams and sprays contain. For that reason, they recommend keeping babies safe with shade and clothing. On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends applying special baby sunscreen in small areas of exposed skin, like hands and face.
If you decide to apply sunscreen on exposed areas follow these recommendations:
- Use sunscreen made specifically for babies, containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These types of sunscreen protect the skin against UVB and UVA rays. Also, they are not absorbed by the skin as other products.
- First, apply sunscreen on a small area to test for skin reactions.
- Avoid sunscreens containing PABA or oxybenzone.
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out.