Sun protection for your baby, and avoiding direct sun exposure, should always be a priority, but it is especially important in these early months. Because an infant’s skin has less melanin, the pigment in skin that provides some sun protection, newborns and young babies are especially susceptible to sunburn. This means Baby’s skin is sensitive and immature enough that the FDA advises not using sunscreen until they are 6 months old, so the best protection from the sun is going to come from avoiding direct exposure altogether.
If you can, keep Baby inside or in the shade during periods of particularly high sunlight, like the late morning or the early afternoon. You may also want to consider getting screens for your car windows around their car seat. When you take them out without a car, stroller covers, or a light blanket to drape over their carrier can keep them protected, too.
When Baby is outside, make sure that they wear a hat with a brim that covers and shades the sensitive skin of their head, face, ears, and neck. Add some stylish sunglasses to keep your little rockstar’s eyes and face shielded, and dress them in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs. Tightly-woven fabrics or knits work best, while more sheer materials are less effective.
If a sunburn does happen
Accidents do happen! If you notice that Baby is more flushed than normal, is fussy, or is crying more than usual, it might be a sign that they are picking up a sunburn. Don’t panic, just move them out of the sun and cool their skin with cold compresses over the sunburned area. If they continue to be fussy or irritable, or if their skin is red and irritated, call your healthcare provider, who may recommend bringing them in for a checkup.
When Baby is old enough for sunblock
When Baby is old enough for sunblock, at around 6 months or so, choose one with an SPF of over 30 (50 is recommended). Make sure the sunblock you choose doesn’t contain insect repellent. You should reapply a fresh coating every 2 hours.
It might seem like a lot of layers of precautions just to enjoy a summer day, but Baby’s skin is going to thank you one day. And of course it’s important to be careful, but that’s no reason for Baby not to get the chance to enjoy outdoor play.
- Lawrence E. Gibson. “When is it OK for a baby to wear sunscreen?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, June 8 2016. Web.
- “Should you put sunscreen on infants? Not usually.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July 6 2016. Web.
- “Sun safety for children.” NHS Choices. Gov.UK, May 3 2016.
- “Sun safety tips for infants, babies, and toddlers.” Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin Cancer Foundation, July 6 2009. Web.