As summer approaches and we spend more time outdoors, it is important to know how to best ensure your baby is protected from the sun. Babies are at a much higher risk of sunburn and heat stroke. Getting the sun burn as a baby or child increases your baby’s risk of having wrinkles or suffering from melanoma, a skin cancer when they are older. Sun burn and heat stroke can also lead to many other complications for babies and young children.
The sun is at its strongest between 10am and 4pm. If you can, plan your time outside around these times. Being in the shade doesn’t mean your baby is safe from burning, the rays of the sun bounce off surfaces such as the water, sand and cement.
Just because the sun is hottest from 10am to 4pm doesn’t mean your baby can’t get a burn during other times of the day and on cloudy days. It’s not the heat of the sun that causes sunburns, it’s the UV (ultraviolet) rays.
Babies under six months cannot use sun screen because their skin is too sensitive. This makes it even more important to take precautions to protect your baby.
If you are going to be spending time outside with baby, being in the shade isn’t always enough to protect their skin. Consider purchasing a special shade with built-in UV protection to help protect your baby’s delicate skin.
Clothing can be purchased with UV protection built into it as well. These products can sometimes be a little pricey, but are worth the investment if you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. Dress your baby in light, loose fitting clothes to help prevent heat stroke.
A hat is a very important investment. This is true regardless of whether your baby is bald or has a head full of hair. Look for a hat that has flaps to protect the neck and a brim wide enough to protect baby’s face and ears. Purchase multiple hats. Keep one or two in the diaper bag, one in the car and a couple at home. This will come in handy if you decide to stop at the park on the way home, or if your baby takes their hat off while you are out for a walk and you don’t realize it.
Another option to help protect your baby is a pair of UV protective sunglasses. If your baby gets upset over wearing these, don’t force it. A baby who is agitated and crying is more susceptible to heat stroke.
Offer lots of formula or breastmilk to your baby to prevent dehydration. Water is not recommended without the advice of a doctor under six months of age. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. If you are feeding formula, ensure that the formula is being kept at safe temperatures, you don’t want your baby to be sick from the sour formula.
When travelling in the car, there are a couple things you can do to protect your baby. First, make sure the car is cool before you put the baby into it. You can either turn the vehicle on and have the air conditioner running for a short while or if you don’t have an air conditioner in your car, open the windows and allow the car to air out. Second, make sure you are stopping the UV rays from coming in through the windows. There are a couple options to help prevent the sun’s UV rays from entering your vehicle. You can use removable mesh shields as a temporary option, or for a more permanent option, you can install a window film which will tint your windows and stop the UV rays. It is also important to ensure that you don’t put a baby into a seat that is hot, as their skin is sensitive and can be easily burned by seat buckles and other things in the car.
Once your baby is six months of age, you can begin applying sunscreen to help protect your baby’s skin. It is important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least fifteen. There are sunscreens made specifically for babies that are gentler on the skin and some even tear free. Ensure sunscreen is applied 30 minutes before you go outside and reapplied every two hours. It is also important to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
Protecting your baby from the effects of the sun isn’t hard to do. By taking a few precautions, you and your baby can enjoy the outdoors all summer long without having to suffer any of the side effects of a sun burn or heat stroke.