With summer just around the corner I can hardly wait for some fun in the sun with my little one and I’ve been dying to let her have some water play in her adorable, little stripey swimsuit. But, something I’d failed to think about until recently…sun protection. I just kind of assumed that baby sun protection was the same as adult sun protection: use sunscreen, wear a floppy hat and you’re golden. But, through my research of baby sun protection I’m learning that there’s a little bit more to it than that.
According to a study last year by The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Accumulating evidence suggests not only that the skin’s barrier protection remains immature throughout at least the first 2 years of life but also that accumulation of UVR-induced changes in the skin may begin as early as the first summer of life.” The study also suggests that infants and toddlers are even more vulnerable to the sun’s ultraviolet rays because they have lower levels of protective melanin, thinner skin and a higher surface area of skin in comparison to their body mass. Another concern is that exposure during the early years of life can increase a person’s risk for skin cancers later in life.
So, what’s a mama to do to protect her baby from the sun? Find out after the jump!
Some sun protection guidelines for babies, as recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics, are as follows:
* Sun avoidance – This is the first line of defense for babies under 6 months of age since it is easiest to control exposure while babies are still immobile. Stay in shaded areas or under sun umbrellas.
*Sunscreen – For babies under 6 months, sunscreen should be avoided and if it is used, then it should only be used on small areas such as the child’s face or the backs of their hands and only in the event that staying in the shade is not an option. For children 6 months and older zinc oxide sunscreens are a good option as they don’t sink into skin as readily. Make sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and be sure to apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors.
*Protective clothing – Dress your baby in clothing that covers the body. Think pants and long-sleeved shirts and light, but tightly woven fabrics that will block UV rays. Also make sure to put a wide-brimmed hat on baby for face and ear protection.
*Schedule – Plan your outdoor time during the sun’s non-peak hours (10:00 a.m. – 4:00 pm.) in order to avoid the sun’s strongest rays. Plan play time during the early morning or early evening.
I’m glad I decided to read up on this or I would have had no ideas about all the guidelines for babies under 6 months. I had always just assumed sun block was fine for everyone – little babies included. We still plan to have tons of fun in the sun, but it looks like we’ll be limiting it to shaded areas of the park and our yard.
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