10 Top Sun Safety Tips for Infants, Babies and Toddlers

Getting sunburned is painful enough for adults, but when it occurs in young children, it’s even worse as it can compromise their health, making them more likely to develop skin cancer later in life. In fact, it can be a medical emergency. If you’re the parent of a young child, here are nine top sun safety tips for infants, babies and toddlers.

5 Top Guidelines for Protecting Infants and Babies

Sunburns in infants and babies can cause blisters, high fever, dehydration, heat-strokes, chills, as well as increase the odds of developing skin cancer. That’s why it’s extremely critical to protect their thin, sensitive skin. For example:

  • “Don’t expose newborns to direct sun” pleads Jennifer Jordan, physician assistant at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. Infants less than six months old should never be exposed to direct sunlight and particularly kept out of the sun round midday.
  • But if your infant or baby does receive some sun exposure, cover your child’s skin with as much clothing as possible. Dress your baby in breathable, lightweight gowns that have long sleeves, such as coveralls that cover the body from the shoulders to the feet.
  • Be sure the eyes, neck and scalp are protected by covering your baby’s head in a sun bonnet or broad-brimmed hat that has a brim with a diameter of at least 4″.
  • Keep your baby well hydrated, besides cool, when traveling in a car. “Consider that babies are restricted in their ability to control body temperature,” cautions PA Jordan.

The Question of Sunscreen on Newborns

The question of whether or not to use sunscreen on children younger than six months of age is debatable. Both the Skin Cancer Foundation and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommend not using it on babies younger than six months old.

On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that sunscreen can be applied to small parts of exposed skin in infants. This exception applies only if parents don’t have the appropriate protective clothing.

However, babies older than six months old can use sunscreen. “According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protective factor) of at least 30,” PA Jordan notes.

5 Leading Tips for Protecting Toddlers

By the time babies grow into toddlers, they usually enjoy playing outdoors. To be safe doesn’t mean having to stay indoors. It just means that, as a parent, you’ll need to take some precautions such as:

  • Use the correct sunscreen, having a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or more, which protects against UVA rays, as well as UVB rays. “I typically recommend using a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the chemical sunscreens may be irritating on the delicate skin of a baby or toddler,” explains PA Jordan.
  • Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going into the sun. Besides covering the most obvious areas, such as the legs, arms and face, don’t neglect the neck, ears, hands, feet and legs. Even the lips are susceptible to burning.
  • Because one application isn’t sufficient, reapply sunscreen about every two hours. If your toddler is in and out of the water or perspiring, apply sunscreen even more frequently.
  • Be liberal in applying sunscreen as most parents don’t apply enough.
  • “Don’t go outside when the sun is the most intense, which is between 10 a.m. through 4 p.m.,” suggests PA Jordan. “Instead, time your outings in early morning or early evening hours,” she continues.

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