Sunscreen Use In Babies Under 6 Months
Wondering about sunscreen use in young babies? Baby skin doesnt fully mature until about 32 weeks after a baby is bornand even later if the baby is premature. So that ridiculously soft skin is sensitive to the sun and anything you might put on it, even infant sunscreen. But there is so much benefit and fun to be had in the great outdoors! You can find a balance between catching those healthy rays and protecting your little ones skin with a little vigilance and lots of know-how.
How To Protect Newborns From Sun Exposure
Because babies have such sensitive skin, its extremely important that we protect them from the sun. In addition to being thinner and more delicate than adult skin, baby skin is missing a specific acid mantle. This mantle provides protection from bacteria, viruses, and transepidermal water loss . Newborns arent very good at regulating their own body temperature, either. Keeping them cool on sunny days is important on so many levels! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Instead of smearing sunscreen on your baby, cover their skin with a rash guard or tightly-woven clothing. Dark colors block more of the suns rays than pastels or white fabric. Some activewear companies, like Columbia, even make a fabric that blocks the sun with an SPF 50 rating! Grab a wide-brim hat – not just a baseball cap that leaves ears and the neck exposed. Tiny babies do best with strap-on sunglasses that fit snugly over their sensitive eyes.
Stay in the shade whenever possible. Use your strollers cover to keep the sun off of your baby, or consider using a light muslin blanket to cover their skin. Limit time outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the suns rays are the most penetrating. Be sure to offer plenty of hydration to stave off heat-related illness.
Tips For Protecting Babies From The Sun
Planning to spend some quality time outside with your baby? Protect her from the heat and sun by taking the following steps:
Stay inside during peak sun hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as much as possible.
Stay in a shaded area whenever you can.
Cover as much skin as possible with loose clothing that has a tight-weave .
Dont forget a wide-brimmed hat and, if your baby will let you put them on her, sunglasses that provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Never drape a blanket over the top of the stroller, since it poses the risk of suffocation and overheating. Instead, use the strollers shade to shield your baby, or boost the protection with a special parasol fixed onto the side.
- Make sure you keep your baby hydrated with breast milk or formula if she’s under 6 months old and with milk and a little water if she’s 6 months or older.
Finally, be smart about spending time in the hot summer sun. Watch for signs of dehydration and signs of sunburn. If your childs skin does get red or burned, move her to the shade right away and apply a cold compress to the pink patches as soon as you can.
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What Are The Spf And Star Rating
The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation protection.
SPFs are rated on a scale of 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UVB protection.
The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation protection. You should see a star rating of up to 5 stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better.
The letters “UVA” inside a circle is a European marking. This means the UVA protection is at least a third of the SPF value and meets EU recommendations.
Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum.
A Sunburn Is Worse Than A Little Sunscreen
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Dermatology Association, babies under six months shouldnt wear any sunscreen because their delicate skin barrier is vulnerable to everything you put on itincluding the ingredients in sunblock. In the case of unavoidable or unforeseen sun exposure , Ottawa dermatologist Jennifer Beecker does recommend applying either a chemical or physical sunscreen to any exposed skin and then washing it off once youre out of the sun. Ultimately, we think the risks of sun exposureand potentially a sunburnat that age outweigh the risk of using a limited amount of sunscreen, she says.
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Protective Clothing Hats And Sunglasses
Here are some things to think about when youre looking for sun-protective clothing:
- Sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor rating of 50+ gives your child the best protection from the sun.
- Tightly woven fabric helps protect skin from the sun. Hold the fabric up to the light to see how much sun gets through. If the fabric lets a lot of light through, itll probably let a lot of UV through too.
- Long sleeves and long pants cover up more skin. Elbow-length sleeves and knee-length shorts are best if its too warm for full-length clothing.
- Wetsuits and rash vests are a great way to protect your child and yourself from the sun when theyre swimming or doing other water activities.
- Cotton clothing is cooler than clothing made from acrylic fibers.
- Loose-fitting clothing is cooler.
Hats A hat protects your childs face, neck and ears from the suns UV. Bucket, broad-brimmed and legionnaires hats give the best protection. Caps arent recommended.
For babies, look for a soft hat thats comfortable for your baby to wear while lying down. Straps will help keep the hat on your babys head. If the hat is secured with a long strap and toggle, make sure it has a safety snap. You can tie long straps or straps with toggles behind your babys head, or trim long straps so that they dont become a choking or strangulation hazard.
Many babies and toddlers dont like wearing hats keep trying and eventually hats will become part of your childs routine.
What Is The Safest Sunscreen For Babies
- Babyganics Babyganics Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+ Badger
- Coppertone Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50. Earth Mama
- MDSolarSciences MDSolarSciences KidStick Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 40.
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Should You Slowly Expose Young Children To The Sun
No. Some parents think that they should expose their children to the sun gradually to build up their tolerance to the sun and letting them develop a gradual tan, explains consultant dermatologist and surgeon Dr Howard Stevens. In fact, as a babys skin contains little melanin, the substance that makes us tan, you can actually burn your childs skin and predispose them to melanoma later in life.
In addition, as babies thermoregulation is not fully developed, this can potentially lead to heatstroke.
If you have very small children, try to keep them in the shade as much as possible and keep them out of the sun during the hottest part of the day between 11am and 3pm, especially if you are on holiday in a warm climate.
Children And Sun Protection
Take extra care to protect babies and children. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.
Children aged under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.
From March to October in the UK, children should:
- cover up with suitable clothing
- spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm
- wear at least SPF30 sunscreen
Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.
To ensure they get enough vitamin D, all children under 5 are advised to take vitamin D supplements.
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How Much Sunscreen To Apply And How Often
Once your baby is over 6 months of age, both dermatologists recommend using physical or mineral sunscreen. A shot glass full of sunscreen is typically recommended for an adult, but since the body surface area of a baby is much smaller, King recommends half of a shot glass or a generous amount to all of the exposed areas. But don’t wait until you’re outside to break out the sunscreen bottle. Mack says the ideal time to apply sunscreen is 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure so that it has time to settle into the skin. It’s generally recommended to reapply the sunscreen between every hour to two hours, but King adds that it’s a good idea to reapply after any swimming or sweating as well because, unfortunately, there’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen.
Consider Lightweight Clothing Or Rash Guards
Covering up large parts of your babys skin cuts down on the amount of sunscreen you have to apply if theyre older than 6 months and can serve as the main skin protector if theyre under 6 months.
If its very warm out, keep the clothing light in color and in weight , so your child doesnt overheat. Bathing suits with rash guards also limit the need for sunscreen.
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When Is A Baby Sunburn An Emergency
Most sunburns dont require emergency treatment, but there are a few easy ways to tell if they do.
A sunburn thats warm, red, and simply uncomfortable or irritating can be treated at home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
On the other hand, a sunburn thats blistered or causes any of the following symptoms should prompt an immediate call to your childs doctor:
- fever or chills
- general malaise, irritation, or feeling unwell
This could be a sign that your child is dehydrated, has heat stroke, or has sun poisoning and needs to receive medical care ASAP.
If your childs sunburn is mild enough to be treated at home, you can help them feel better and speed up their recovery process in several ways.
When Can Babies Wear Sunscreen
Even if you have the best baby sunscreen at the ready, most dermatologists, including Zeichner, recommend that you avoid using sunscreen on newborns. Instead, the youngest babies should be protected from the sun with umbrellas, breathable blankets and canopies. Once baby is 6 months old, you can start applying sunblockand look for sunscreen specially formulated for babies.
When To Start Applying Sunscreen On A Baby
The first question on any new parent’s mind, and arguably the biggest question, is when does a baby need to start wearing sunscreen. While your natural instinct to protect your newborn baby from the sun is valid, both dermatologists we spoke to recommend other measures of sun protection, like wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeve shirts, and pants with a protective factor, for the first six months. “Sunscreen use should be minimized for infants younger than 6 months old because their sensitive skin can become irritated and because there are concerns about absorption,” King explains.
Mack also points out that the risk of an allergy is another factor to consider and reason to use other forms of sun protection instead of sunscreen during early infancy. “Babies, when theyre born, their skin is adjusting to the environment, and so they tend to get rashes regularly during infancy,” Mack explains. “So the concern might be that using a topical like a sunscreen may cause or trigger an allergy, and it may be unclear as to whether or not this is just a rash in infancy vs. an allergic reaction to a sunscreen.”
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen Stick
For on-the-go protection, look no further than the Aveeno baby sunscreen stick. This mineral baby sunblock is non-greasy, fragrance-free and designed to be as gentle as water. Specially formulated for delicate skin, it contains soothing oat and naturally sourced zinc that acts as a natural barrier to UVA and UVB rays. Plus, it comes in a TSA-friendly travel size, so you can pop it in your diaper bag whether youre heading to the park or a beach vacation. Its even water-resistant for 80 minutes.
What we love:
- Leaves a white cast on the skin
Buy it: $11, Target.com
About the expert:
Joshua Zeichner, MD, is an associate professor of dermatology and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He earned his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
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How Do I Use A Natural Sunscreen
Most mineral UV filters turn white on the skin. Very cute, a little ghost baby – but not always what you’re going for. That’s why we have developed a formula for Naïf’s natural sunscreen with natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil, so that the cream spreads well. By the way, you don’t have to apply it too thickly if the sunscreen starts to get flakey on the skin, use a little less next time.
We often get the question whether Naïf sunscreen is suitable for newborn babies. Sure! However, bear in mind that the sunscreen stays on the skin a bit longer and it is more difficult to properly rub it in. Flakey sunscreen is also more common, as a baby’s skin is oilier than an adult’s skin. Since you don’t want to rub a baby’s skin too hard, we advise you to wait a little longer and not put your baby in the sun for the first few weeks.
For Babies 6 Months And Under You Should
- Keep them out of the sun completely
- Do not use sun cream or lotions
- Use sun shades and UPF-blocking covers
- If you are in a situation where you cant keep your baby in the shade for example, at an outdoor party or wedding, you can use a child-safe sun cream on exposed skin but wash it off as soon as you can
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What To Do If Your Child Gets Sunburned
- A luke-warm bath may help to soothe their skin.
- Paracetamol might provide some pain relief for severe cases. Make sure to give correct dose of paracetamol for your childs age.
- Sunburn can cause dehydration, so give your child water to replace body fluids.
- If your baby is less than one year old, take them to the doctor to be checked out.
- If your ppi is older than one, call your doctor if theyre in severe pain, blistering, feverish, or are lethargic.
- Keep them out of the sun entirely until the sunburn heals.
If your child is in the sun for too long, they might feel sick and have a headache, fever, chills, and nausea. These effects are normally seen between six and 12 hours after theyve had too much sun.