Sun Protection for Babies

Messy outdoor funI’m a redhead, which has its benefits but also comes with some liabilities. Sun sensitivity tops that list for me. Between my super sensitive skin and my husband’s prior skin cancer diagnosis, sun protection is always a consideration for our family, and was definitely something I thought about after I had a baby.

My first plan was to slather every square inch of my baby’s exposed skin with sunscreen whenever I was going to be outdoors. I was wrong; turns out sunscreen isn’t recommended for babies under six months old. Instead, my pediatrician said to avoid direct sun and keep my son covered in breathable clothing and a big hat.

I’ve realized since moving to the sub-tropics that this advice is really good for everyone over 6 months as well. Densely woven fabrics are more effective than any sunscreen, and they won’t sweat off or run into eyes like sunblock can. I’ve also found that my kids did a lot better wearing a hat and sunglasses regularly when I began using them as infants. They don’t argue over wearing a rash guard, hat, and sunglasses at the beach now because that’s what they’ve done since they were tiny.

When you’re ready to venture out with your baby this summer, whether to the park or the beach, here’s a checklist of things you will want to keep your child safe in the sun.

  • Densely woven, loose fitting clothing. For babies under six months, long sleeves and pants or a lightweight blanket to cover sensitive skin is a must. Rash guards can be purchased relatively inexpensively and are perfect for water play. Not only do they come with built-in UPF, they also reduce the amount of (squirmy) skin you have to apply sunscreen to.
  • A floppy hat, and if your child will tolerate them, sunglasses.
  • For babies six months and older, sunscreen for all exposed skin. Even waterproof varieties require reapplication after swimming, so don’t forget to reapply!
  • Shade. A portable shade tent is terrific if you are going to be someplace that doesn’t have shade already. If your child is in a stroller, use the sun shade and watch for any exposed skin (little thighs can get more sun than you intend if they’re wearing shorts). If you’re babywearing, watch for exposed ankles if their pants ride up being in the carrier.
  • Extra water. UV exposure isn’t the only hot-weather concern for babies. Infants can overheat easily and are prone to heat rash, especially chubbier babies. Monitor your child closely for signs of dehydration and if they’re prone to heat rash, you can try putting a little non-talc powder on their skin before dressing them.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.

 

Tags: babies, infants, outdoors, SPF, sun

Comments are closed.