Now that summer is just around the corner, it’s time for parents and nannies to start thinking more actively about sun safety for the little ones! It’s hard to resist going outside when the weather is this nice, but with the heat also comes stronger UV rays and more opportunities for kids to get sunburnt.
Sun safety tips are a little different for babies than they are for toddlers or older children. The differences are small, but they’re also incredibly important.
Sun Safety Tips for Babies
- Stay out of direct sunlight. Because babies are not born with a developed skin-protection system, they burn more easily than other children. For this reason, even babies born with naturally dark skin should stay out of the sun.
- If your baby is younger than 6 months, do not put sunscreen on them! Keep them out of direct sunlight, and never let them play or sleep in the sun.
- If your baby is older than 6 months, use sunscreen liberally. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Reapply every two hours, or more often if your baby is sweating or spending time in the water.
- Dress your baby in protective clothing, a hat with a brim, and sunglasses. Ideally, their clothing should be tightly woven, long-sleeved, lightweight, and light-colored. The ideal hat will have flaps that protect the back of your baby’s neck and a brim that’s wide enough to cover the ears and shade the face.
- Never use baby oil to try to protect babies from the sun. It will function similarly to tanning oil and cause more damage.
- Make sure to give your baby lots of cool liquids to drink. Water or breast milk are best.
- Use the sunshade on your baby’s stroller anytime you are outside. There are many inexpensive pop-up stroller shades that have built-in UV protection and fit over the stroller’s canopy to provide shelter for the baby’s entire body.
Sun Safety Tips for Toddlers
- Try to keep toddlers out of direct sunlight as much as possible between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is the time of the day when the sun and heat are strongest. Look for places with shady areas, like parks with big trees, gazebos, or wide beach umbrellas.
- Dress your toddler in protective clothing, a hat with a brim, and sunglasses. Like babies, toddlers should keep their sensitive skin covered as much as possible! Some clothing and swimwear comes with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) listing on the label; this will provide extra protection.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, ideally 30+ SPF. Water-resistant, spray-on sunscreens are good for active toddlers. Do not spray sunscreen directly on the face; spray it in your hands, then spread it on your toddler’s face to avoid contact with their eyes.
- Apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply at least every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
- Make sure your toddler drinks plenty of water. Be sure to choose water over juice or other sugary beverages, which can further dehydrate them.
- Keep sunscreen in your diaper bag, and an extra lightweight, long-sleeved outfit in your car. These will come in handy if you decide to stop somewhere sunny on the way home, and your toddler isn’t fully covered.
Remember, just a few serious sunburns in childhood can increase the chance of skin cancer later in life! Take your child’s health seriously this summer, and make sure to share this list with other parents or caregivers. And, for more on summer safety, check out these water fun safety tips for kids!