With summer almost upon us, it’s only natural to want to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. But parents of babies need to think twice. Very small children need extra protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
“A baby’s skin is more sensitive than adult skin, so it’s important we protect their skin from the sun,” said UCLA Health pediatrician Dr. Jay Joo.
The best protection is to avoid direct sun exposure, especially during the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
However, if you do take your baby outside, make sure you cover their skin with long sleeves and pants and a wide-brimmed hat.
As for sunscreen, most parents wouldn’t think of applying the chemical-laden potion to the sensitive skin of infants before 6 months of age, but they still may ask themselves: Is it safe?
“That’s probably the most common question parents ask me,” Joo said. “The answer is yes, it is safe to use a small amount of sunscreen on exposed parts of their skin, such as the hands. You can do a small test-patch first to make sure it does not irritate their skin.”
For children age 6 to 12 months -- and certainly beyond -- parents should apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to all exposed parts of the skin, Joo said.
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen – meaning one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays -- with an SPF of at least 30. Be sure to apply at least 15 minutes before heading outside. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
If your baby does get too much sun, you can soothe his or her inflammation by applying a cool compress or apply a calamine or aloe-based lotion.
As for those cute baby sunglasses…
“Sure, sunglasses are a good idea too, but only if the baby will keep them on,” Joo said.
Visit www.uclahealth.org for more health information.