A safe sun experience with your baby
Babies (0-12 months) have extremely delicate and sensitive skin that’s easily damaged by sun – even on cloudy days. They need to be protected by direct UV rays as much as possible for an appropriate prevention of sun damages.
Some recent studies reported by the US Skin-Cancer Organization collected worrying results on parents’ behaviour regarding sun protection for their youngest. Babies are exposed to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays in the first six months of life, despite their skin is most vulnerable. Some findings are alarming: one-third of parents actively increased their infants’ sun exposure each day, believing mistakenly that it would build their babies’ tolerance to the sun’s rays, 12 percent of the parents reported that their babies’ skin had tanned before they were 6 months old and 3 percent said their infants had been sunburned.
The skin of young babies is so delicate because they haven’t yet developed all the melanin, and this is the case not only for those who have fair skin. Therefore, they need to be protected from sun rays keeping them in the shade and using physical barrier (appropriate clothing and/or umbrella). Using sunscreens before six months is inappropriate as there is no scientific evidence, they are safe on youngest babies. Long sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended as well as brimmed hats.
Babies’ eyes are still developing melanin and are very sensitive to UVs ray. Sunglasses that filter UVs are highly recommended.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for a safe sun experience with your baby:
- Avoid outside activities during peak sun hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as much as possible;
- Stay in a shaded area whenever you can;
- Be sure to keep with you plenty of water/liquids;
- Keep in mind that light-coloured clothing and loosely woven fabrics allow the most UV rays through. If you live in exposed countries, consider using sun-protective clothing that has SPF built right into the fabric;
- Use a broad-brimmed hat to protect your baby;
- Have your child wear sunglasses with at least 99 percent UV protection;
- If you’re pushing your toddler in a stroller always use the stroller’s shade or a parasol;
- Apply sunscreens only after 6 months of age and choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that offers a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.
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