Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. According to one U.S. study, 54% of children become sunburned or tanned in their second summer, versus 22% in their first. Many parents don’t know the best ways to protect their young children and with summer on it’s way, Welcome Baby thought it was best to advise on sun safety. The Skin Cancer Foundation and the FDA recommends the following sun safety tips for infants and babies.
Infants: 0-6 months
Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. Sunscreens are recommended for children and adults. What makes babies so different? For one thing, babies' skin is much thinner than that of adults, and it absorbs the active, chemical ingredients in sunscreen more easily. For another, infants have a high surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults. Both these factors mean that an infant's exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens is much greater, increasing the risk of allergic reaction or inflammation. To add to that an infant’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair, and eyes, and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.
Tips for infant sun safety:
* Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct
sunlight from coming in through the windows of your
car or invest in UV window film, which can screen almost 100% of ultraviolet radiation without reducing
* Take walks early in the morning before 10 a.m. or late
afternoon after 4 p.m. and use a stroller with a
* Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the
arms and legs.
* Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects
the baby’s face, neck, and ears. A baby who wears a
hat during the first few months will get used to having
* Provide adequate liquids to keep your infant hydrated.
It’s now safe to use sunscreen on babies.
Tips for baby sun safety:
* All the protection methods explained above still
apply; however, now sunscreen use should be incorporated.
* Apply a broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas
left uncovered such as baby’s hands. Many companies
have tear-free formulas that won’t sting baby’s eyes.
* Most importantly, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside.
(Sun Safety Tips for Infants, Babies, and Toddlers.(2010). Dermatology Nursing,38-39).