Sun Safety for Your Baby

There’s nothing more fun than spending a sunny day enjoying the outdoors with your baby. Before you head out to enjoy the sunshine, make sure to take a few precautions to protect baby’s delicate skin and eyes from those bright rays.

Sunscreen for All

It doesn’t matter what shade your baby’s skin is; sunscreen is an absolute must. Many people believe that having darker skin will protect them from the harmful effects of the sun, but while darker skin tones are less susceptible to burning than lighter ones, they aren’t impervious to the sun. No matter what your baby’s skin tone, you should use sunscreen every time you go out to play.

Choose a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. The minimum recommended SPF is 15, but it’s a good idea to go higher – as high as you can find. Look for a formula that is designed for babies – it won’t sting baby’s eyes if it gets in them by accident.

When applying sunscreen to babies under 6 months old, apply sparingly, on small areas of the body that are not otherwise protected. When your baby is this young, it’s best to stay out of direct sunlight altogether as much as possible, and use hats and protective clothing. Over 6 months old, apply sunscreen to all exposed parts of the body. Make sure to apply the sunscreen about 30 minutes before heading outside, to give it time to absorb into the skin, and rub it in well. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming.

Remember that even if it’s cloudy, the sun is still up there; harmful UV rays can make it through the cloud cover. Use sunscreen every time you are going to be outside for any space of time. This includes the winter! Sunlight can reflect off the snow, and although the sun’s rays may be weaker in the wintertime, they are still damaging. If your baby is enjoying a snow day, winter clothing will probably cover most skin, but dab some sunscreen on any part of the face that is exposed.

Protective Clothing and Eyewear

So your baby doesn’t like wearing a hat? Keep trying. A hat will shade sensitive eyes and protect the skin on the top of the head, where it can be difficult to apply sunscreen because of baby’s hair. Try a hat with a chin strap that stays on, but if that bothers baby, just keep putting it back on. It might be frustrating, but it’s the best way to protect his head and face.

Sunglasses with UV protection are now available in small sizes for babies, and include a strap to help keep them on. Baby’s eyes are very sensitive, so keep them protected as best you can.

Look for swimsuits and clothing that include UV protection. Entire lines of baby clothes are now available with this feature, from swim shirts to sun hats. These fabrics will help to protect baby from rays that can get through the clothing’s weave. Tightly woven fabrics will also help.

Remember to limit your time in the sun with baby, especially on days when the UV index is particularly high. This information is available from your weather channel or online, but it’s easy enough to see that a very hot, sunny day will have a high UV index. Sunburn and future risk of skin cancer aren’t the only dangers on a hot day. Heat stroke can occur too, so don’t stay out too long, and make sure baby has plenty of fluids.

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