Sunscreen for your baby? Of course! Any responsible parent wants to protect their newborn from the sun's damaging rays. But before you start slathering on the lotion or spray, check out these tips for summer sun safety.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, while liberal and frequent application of sunscreen to older children and adults is routinely recommended, infants under 6 months of age need special protection from the sun—not sunscreen.
The Best Sun Protection Choices for Babies
- Avoid certain times. Avoid the peak times of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Take baby for an early morning or later afternoon/evening walk instead. You’ll avoid the hottest part of the day and, since infants don’t sweat well, will make it easier for them to stay cool.
- Wear protective clothing. Rely on protective clothing instead of sunscreen to avoid sun exposure. Wide-brimmed hats, lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants will protect baby’s tender skin. Consider clothing with built-in UV protection added directly to the fabric for additional protection.
- Use sunscreen sparingly. Limit sunscreen use to areas that cannot easily be covered or shaded, such as the hands and face. Young babies have thin skin, which can more easily absorb ingredients from sunscreen and which also is easily irritated—especially by chemical sunscreens. When you do use a sunscreen, consider one that physically blocks the sun’s rays; look for the ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as these do not usually irritate delicate skin.
- Stay in the shade. Use sun umbrellas, tents, or other means of shading to help avoid sun exposure, but also remember that sand, concrete, and water all reflect the sun’s rays.
- Don’t forget the car. Protect baby from sun exposure when riding in the car (glass does not block the UVA rays) and on cloudy or cool days.
- Never use insect repellent. Avoid “bug and sun” products. You should not apply insect repellent at all on infants under 2 months of age. Since sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently, use of this combination product can cause your baby to be exposed to excessive amounts of insect repellent.
- Wear sunglasses. Remember that eye protection is as important as skin protection. Train your infant to wear sunglasses that offer broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and your baby will learn this is a natural part of being outside.
By following these guidelines, you can help assure your baby is better protected from painful sunburn now...and skin cancer in the future.