Summer time is great. There are so many activities we can do with our little one, especially going to the swimming pool or the beach if the ocean is nearby. However, it is imperative to remember that babies’ skin is highly sensitive and we must protect it from the sun. Baby sunscreen, the preferred solutions to being outdoors on hot days, is not 100% effective and, therefore, we must follow strict safety guidelines to prevent sunburns and other health risks associated with over-exposure to the sun.
Why we cannot fully rely on sunscreen
In the first year of life, babies’ ability to cope with ultraviolet solar radiation is limited. Their skin is thinner and contains less melanin (the substance that gives the skin its color) compared to adults.
Baby sunscreen cannot provide full protection due to higher ratio of skin area to body mass in infants and toddlers and the higher absorption capacity of their skin, which makes the essential ingredients in the protective sunscreen less effective.
Nevertheless, the American Academy of Pediatrics do recommend using baby sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher, which should be applied to small areas of the skin (on the face, nape and the back of the hands).
Be advised, infant sunscreen that contains non-organic ingredients such as zinc and titanium, does not penetrate beyond the upper layers of the skin and is less likely to cause irritation, so it is more suitable for babies and toddlers.
Some tips to help you put sunscreen on your baby
1) To minimize allergic reaction, do not apply large amount of sunscreen. Put it only on areas not covered by clothes. If your baby has little or no hair, don’t forget to put it on her scalp as well or just make her wear a hat.
2) Reapply sunscreen every 3 hours or the moment you take your baby out of the water.
3) If you are using a sunscreen spray, make sure you spray it close to the skin.
4) Babies who suffer from eczema are not exempt. Use baby sunscreen specially made for irritated skin. Look for products with the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, such as Neutrogena Pure & Free and CeraVe Baby.
The best protection from the sun is to minimize your and your baby’s exposure to its harmful effects.
1) Avoid being outdoors with your baby when the sun is at its strongest from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Even if you are outside early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you should still use baby sunscreen.
2) When you are outdoors, stay in the shade as much as you can.
3) Dress your baby with protective clothing. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends thin, lightweight clothing that includes long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a wide-brimmed hat that covers the neck and ears – areas that are very sensitive to the sun’s rays.
In the United States, more than 65% of the children suffer from sunburns at least once in the summer. You do not want your baby to be among them.