Before that afternoon of fun in the sun, learn why and how you should protect your baby's skin:
Why should baby's skin be protected from the sun?
- A baby's skin is thinner and therefore more sensitive which means it will burn more easily. Even babies with darker skin need protection from the sun.
- Sunburn in babies and children is a key risk factor in melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
- The sun's harmful UV rays can damage the eyes, contributing to cataracts and other eye diseases.
What can be done to protect baby's skin from the harmful rays of the sun?
- Keep babies under 6 months out of the sun. Move to the shade under a tree or umbrella.
- Use Sun Protective Wear for babies. This is clothing made to protect baby's skin from the sun's rays. It is different from regular summer clothing, because it has a tighter weave and is usually a darker color. A regular cotton T-shirt offers sun protection equal to only SPF 7. Clothing labeled sun protective should have a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 15 or higher. The higher the number (50+ is the highest), the more protection it gives. Also a wide-brimmed hat will protect your baby's scalp, ears, face, eyes, and neck.
- Use a waterproof sunscreen that is made specially for young children. Select a PABA-free brand with a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of at least 15. PABA is an ingredient in some sunscreens that may cause side effects or an allergic reaction in some people. Check with your pediatrician before using sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months. Be sure to put sunscreen on 30 minutes before taking your baby out into the sun and re-apply after swimming. Even waterproof sunscreen should be re-applied every 80 minutes or after being in water.
- Sunglasses that protect eyes from UVA and UVB rays are also important. (For more information see Eye Care.)
To learn even more check out these websites:
http://www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics)
http://www.greenpeople.co.uk/info_features_suncarebabies.aspx (Green People Organic Lifestyle)
http://www.skincancerprevention.org/ (National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention)