Your Guide to Baby Sun Safety
Although the British weather is very unpredictable, it seems the scorching temperatures are here to stay.
If you have a new baby, you might not feel quite ready to grab your sunglasses just yet. And you’re completely right to consider your baby’s sensitive skin in the sun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and enjoy it! You’re going to have a blast.
Why is Baby Sun Protection Important?
Our skin possesses a chemical called melanin, which reacts with the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. If the amount of UV exposure is more than what your skin’s melanin can manage, you will get sunburnt.
A newborn baby has extremely sensitive skin that doesn’t contain much melanin, so is more prone to sunburn. And not only does sunburn cause a lot of pain for your little one, but could also increase their risk of skin cancer in later life. So it’s extremely important to be aware of sun safety for babies and make sure your newborn is fully protected at all times.
How to Keep Your Newborn Baby Protected in the Sun
Young babies aged between 0-6 months should never exposed to direct sunlight. To keep your little one in the shade at all times, you can:
- Go for walks early in the morning and late in the afternoon (around 10am and 4pm), staying away from the midday sun.
- Attach a protective sun cover or parasol to your pushchair.
- Use sun shades for your car windows – they’re usually cheap to buy and can be removed later on.
- Give your baby a cotton sun hat which fully covers their head, ears and neck.
- Dress your infant in lightweight, loose and light-coloured clothing that protects their arms and legs.
It’s sometimes recommended parents avoid putting sunscreen on newborn babies, as this can harm their delicate skin. It’s best to ask your doctor or health visitor if you’re unsure. However, your baby generally shouldn’t need sunscreen if they’re kept out of direct sunlight at all times.
Sun Safety for Babies 6 Months and Over
Older babies who are 6 months and up still need sun protection.
- If your little one is crawling around and likes to play outside, avoid going into the sun between 11am and 3pm. This is the hottest part of the day and could cause your infant to become dehydrated as well as sunburnt.
- But if you really need to go out, keep your baby in the shade. As with newborn babies, the same rules still apply – use pushchair covers and car window shades.
- Cover your child up as much as possible with light clothing, like an oversized, long-sleeved t-shirt and loose, cotton trousers.
- Don’t forget a wide-brimmed sun hat! Although older babies might fight you on that one, as they tend to prefer pulling their hat off at the most inconvenient times. If you go for a walk with your baby in their pushchair, keep checking in case their hat goes astray.
- Get a pair of infant sunglasses to shield your baby’s eyes. For the best UV protection, sunglasses should meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and have the CE mark.
- And the most important sun safety for babies tip: slather on that sunscreen!
How to Use Sunscreen on Your Baby
Babies need sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. You also need to make sure your baby’s sunscreen is fully protective against UVA and UVB rays.
Apply sunscreen to any areas which aren’t covered by clothing. Your baby’s neck and shoulders shouldn’t be exposed to the sun, but if they are, take extra care to check sunscreen is liberally applied, as these areas are more likely to get sunburnt. Don’t forget your baby’s ears, face and feet need sunscreen too.
Sunscreen should be applied around 20 minutes before you go outside, then reapplied often throughout the day.
Your baby needs to wear sunscreen every time they go out between the months of April and September.
Finally, even if it’s cloudy, you must apply sunscreen as the sun’s rays are still there.
Protecting Your Baby on Holiday
If you’re not relying on the British summer and plan on going on holiday with your baby, pack lots of extra sunscreen in your hold luggage. Sunscreen might be more expensive abroad, plus you might not be able to find the right type suitable for your baby, so buy it before you go.
Also, if you have a water baby who likes going in the pool, make sure to use a waterproof sunscreen. When your little one’s tired of swimming, reapply sunscreen after towel drying so they stay protected.
If you are planning a trip abroad, check you’ve got the right baby travel bag to carry all your essentials!
What Happens If My Baby Gets Sunburnt?
Even if you take the necessary precautions, there is a chance your baby could get sunburnt. If your infant is showing any signs of sunburn, head inside immediately. Dab the area with cool water and gently pat dry (don’t rub), then apply aloe vera. Always consult your doctor or health visitor straight away for more advice if your baby has sunburn.
Is Taking My Baby out in the Sun Worth It?
Of course! The sun is our best source of vitamin D, which is important for supporting healthy bones in babies. We additionally get vitamin D from food, but breastfed babies usually need a daily supplement to increase their intake.
No new parent is expected to stay inside for the entire summer. As long as you’re extra careful and take all the right steps to protect your baby, you can both enjoy the sunshine – let’s just hope it lasts!