How to protect your baby's skin from the sun

So many things about babies are tender and fragile, but especially that newborn skin. Because an infant’s skin is thin and can burn easily, it takes extra special care to protect baby skin from the sun. Here’s how to enjoy a little summer sunshine, while protecting your baby’s sensitive skin.

How to protect your baby's skin from the sun

Photo Credit: detailblick-foto

Avoid direct sunlight

Baby skin hasn’t yet developed the natural pigment, or melanin, that provides some natural sun protection, putting it at high risk if exposed to the sun. Even infants with darker skin tones are vulnerable to damage from the sun’s harsh UV rays. The best way to protect baby is to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. When that’s not possible, try to stick to shaded areas.

Adding a shade canopy or parasol attachment to your stroller can create much-needed shade for your little one, but don’t be tempted to improvise by covering the stroller with a blanket. You may risk overheating or suffocating baby. If you’re spending a day at the park or beach, a pop-up sun tent with UV protection is a good way to keep baby out of harm’s way.

Cover up

Before babies can wear sunscreen (6 months of age) the best defence against sun damage is a physical barrier like a long-sleeve shirt and pants. Special sun-protective clothing is widely available (look for UPF50) or choose loose-fitting clothing in tightly woven fabrics.

If you’re planning to swim with baby, opt for a full-body swimsuit. Available in cute styles and colours, these swimsuits resemble a surfer’s wetsuit, and many come with snap closures for easy diaper changes.

The essential outdoor accessory for children of all ages is, of course, a hat. Look for a hat with a wide brim and chin strap, or a cap with a protective neck flap to shield baby’s most sensitive bits. A baby’s eyes are also vulnerable to damage from the sun, so consider specialized baby sunglasses, if your child will tolerate them. Look for those with both UVA and UVB protection and baby-friendly features like a soft, stretchy head strap.

Apply sunscreen (on babies over 6 months)

It’s safe to use sunscreen once baby reaches six months old. Choose a sunscreen that’s formulated for children, waterproof, and offers an SPF between 30 and 50. Look for gentle, hypoallergenic ingredients that sit on the skin, instead of absorbing into it. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good choices.

Apply a tablespoon of sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, and be sure to reapply every two hours. Sunscreen is a must for children’s exposed skin all year round, no matter what the temperature.

Stay hydrated

If you’re spending time outdoors with your wee one on a hot day, keep her hydrated with lots of breast milk or formula, and, if she’s over 6 months of age, lots of water. Babies and children can overheat quickly in hot weather. Watch for signs of heatstroke such as fever, chills, or vomiting. If your child exhibits any of these serious warning signs, call your pediatrician.

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