We all know that sun protection is important. The beginning of every Summer reports circulate all around about sunscreens and sun protection. By the time we’re adults we know what we need to do for our skin, and good or bad, we all have our own systems, but what about your baby? What needs to be done to protect his sensitive young skin? Here is the low down on babies and sun protection.
For the most part it’s best to keep your little one out of direct sun. This is especially important for little ones that are two months and younger. Keep babies covered with protective clothing and hats. If you can get them to wear sunglasses with UV protection than do so. Nick was very happy to wear sunglasses last Summer, but this Summer he just wants to take them off and chew on them. If you’re in a stationary location sit in a shaded area or under an umbrella. If you’re on the go with the little one in the stroller make sure to pull the canopy down so the baby is covered.
Most information you read says that children under six months should not use sunscreen. Personally I didn’t follow that recommendation. I always did my best to keep Nick covered, but there were times last Summer when we were in the sun for long periods of time and I didn’t want to take any chances of Nick getting burnt. Jason and I burn bad, so I figured Nick would have the same problem (although he’s very tan this Summer, so maybe he’ll be luckier than us). I decided to follow the sunscreen recommendation of Dr. Scott W. Cohen in his book Eat, Sleep, Poop. Since he is an award winning pediatrician I have always felt that I could follow his recommendations. Dr. Cohen’s opinion is that it is safe enough to use sunscreen anytime after two months. He personally feels that people say six months because they want to keep people from taking their babies out to sit in the sun thinking that it’s OK since they have sunscreen on. There weren’t a lot of days I put sunscreen on Nick last year, but I felt a lot better knowing that Nick had that extra layer of protection.
When choosing a sunscreen for your little one there are important things to look for. You want a sunscreen that has UVA and UVB (sometimes written as broad spectrum) protection. For babies you also want one that has an SPF of 50 or higher. Reports over the years have found that any SPF higher than 50 doesn’t actually protect better than SPF 50, and it will cost you more, but buy what you feel comfortable with. Since babies have such sensitive skin they can sometimes have a reaction to the chemicals in sunscreen. For that reason you may want to choose one that is PBBA-free.
Sunscreens should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before going into the sun. It should also be reapplied about every two hours if you continue to stay out in the sun as the day progresses, and it’s especially important to reapply if your little one has gone in the water. Sunscreens can only last on the skin for so long. If it is water resistant it can last for 40 minutes in the water, and if it’s waterproof it can last for up to 80 minutes in the water, but either way it will eventually wash away.
Other Ways To Protect
The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so you may want to avoid being outside during those hours. It’s also important to note that the sun doesn’t have to be shinning brightly for UV rays to still cause burns. Even on cloudy days your baby could get burnt, so it’s important to follow sun safety any time you go outside for long periods of time.
Have fun in the sun!