It’s the middle of summer, and chances are, you and your sweet little baby are enjoying plenty of time outdoors soaking up the wonderful weather! Spending time outside is a great way for families to bond and embrace the long summer days, but remember, infants require extra safety precautions when it comes to sun exposure! Here is everything you need to know about protecting your little one from being harmed.
The number one cause of concern with too much sun exposure for little ones is the risk of sunburns. While sunburns are painful, unsightly, and annoying for adults, sunburns can actually become a medical emergency for babies! Sunburns can cause problems such as dehydration, infection, chills, blisters, and fevers in infants. Even a simple sunburn as a baby can significantly increase a person’s lifetime risk of skin cancer!
Why do babies burn so easily? An infant’s skin is highly sensitive, and contains less melanin than adults. Melanin is the pigment responsible for hair and eye color, but also offers some protection from the sun. Because babies are so susceptible to sunburns, parents must take every precaution to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays.
How can you protect your little one from the sun this summer?
If you do need to be out in the peak hours of sunlight, try to keep your baby in shaded areas as much as possible. Find a tree, playground covering, awning, or covered pavilion. If you can’t find convenient shaded areas, wear baby in a baby carrier that has a sun cover, or put baby in the stroller and use the sun umbrella. You can also drape a lightweight blanket over the stroller, or use the KeaBabies Nursing Cover, to provide breathable protection from the sun.
There are many protective clothing options available now! Long-sleeved shirts, long- sleeved gowns, pants, and onesies offer great protection. The more lightweight the fabric, the better. If you can, dress your baby in bright colors instead of dark colors or whites. Be sure that your baby’s face is always protected – their eyes, neck, and scalp are very sensitive. Use wide-brimmed hats or sunglasses. Many baby hats and sunglasses have straps to prevent your little one from yanking it off! Some companies even make UV- blocking clothing, specifically for use in very warm, sunny weather.
When out and about, try to find spaces to give baby a break from the harsh sun. Try to find a store to wander around, a restaurant to grab a bite to eat at, or take a little rest in the car. Consider buying a small portable tent or canopy to take with you on long outings outside.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but babies actually shouldn’t use sunscreen until they are at least 6 months old. The FDA and Skin Cancer Foundation recommend keeping young infants out of the sun as much as possible and holding off on the use of sunscreen for at least 6 months. Infant skin is very sensitive, as it is much thinner than adult skin. Chemicals from sunscreen may penetrate more easily through an infant’s skin and cause problems such as rashes, allergies, or inflammation. If no other covering, clothing, or natural shade is available, though, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend applying small amounts of sunscreen to vulnerable areas in infants younger than 6 months.
When your baby is ready for sunscreen, aim to buy a formula that is primarily physical and mineral agents instead of chemical agents. Most sunscreens marketed for babies and children are safe. Of course, always perform a “patch test” on your baby’s skin before regular use. You never know if your baby will have a reaction to a particular product. Once you find a sunscreen that works for your little one, be sure to always keep a bottle of it in the diaper bag!
- Car safety
If you’re going on a long car ride, try to ensure that baby isn’t getting direct sunlight on them the entire time. If you can, place your baby’s car seat in the middle of the row, away from the side windows. Buy a UV-blocking window shade for the window closest to baby’s seat. Make sure your baby stays hydrated by offering plenty of fluids along the way, as infants are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
Even though babies are highly susceptible to dangers posed by the sun’s powerful rays, there are many precautions that parents can take so you and your babies can have a happy, healthy, safe summer!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Everyday is an adventure.