Baby Steps for Sun Safety
Your baby is ready to explore her world—and it’s good for her to go new places, see new things and meet new people. What’s not good for her is too much fun outside without sun protection. Your baby’s skin is at its most vulnerable during the first six months of her life, and childhood sunburns can lead to dangerous skin cancers down the road.
Protecting Baby From the Sun
Most pediatricians will tell you that sunscreen isn’t recommended for babies under 6 months of age, simply because their skin is so sensitive. That means that at this point, shaded areas and protective clothing are your friends.
Little shorts and sunsuits are adorable, but it’s best to dress baby in lightweight, loose-fitting long pants and long sleeves. A wide-brimmed hat will work wonders for keeping the sun out of baby’s eyes and off her face, no matter the time of day or angle of the sun. Sunglasses with complete UV protection are also important, because baby’s eyes are super-sensitive—in fact, they’re still producing the melanin that will eventually show their true colors. If you’re worried about your baby resisting sunglasses, look for baby-friendly brands with soft, elastic straps to keep them in place.
On the Go
When you’re out and about, time your walks for mornings or evenings, as the sun’s rays are at their highest intensity between 10am and 4pm. Stick to the shady side of the street and use the sunshade on the stroller. Don’t forget potential sun exposure in the car. Even though windshields are required by law to filter out many of the sun’s harmful rays, side windows and rearview glass don’t offer much protection.
You can buy window shades made just for this purpose, which block UV rays and keep baby’s seat cooler and darker. Placing the car seat in the rear middle seat can also keep baby out of harm’s way.
At the Pool or Beach
In Florida, it’s always pool time or beach time. Set up a sun tent or pop-up gazebo with UV protection built in, and you can keep baby in the shade all day. Remember to keep her cool and hydrated, too, as babies can’t regulate their body temperature nearly as well as adults can.
If you do see a pink tint to baby’s skin, get her out of the sun immediately. Sunburn tends to get worse even after going inside, because the skin is still so hot, but you help stop the damage by putting your baby in a lukewarm bath or placing her near a fan. Gently apply a baby-safe lotion, or pure aloe vera, to soothe the skin and prevent blistering and peeling. If you have concerns or your baby seems to be uncomfortable due to skin inflammation, speak with your pediatrician for the best course of treatment.