Playing on the grass, swimming in the pool, or going for a drive on a summer’s day are all perfect activities to do with your child. But what about the sun? Sun protection is crucial for your baby; exposure to harsh UV rays can cause skin damage, irritation, sunburn and extreme cases, skin cancer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to babies and sun.
Sunscreen is your go-to for sun protection, and while it’s perfectly fine for you to use, it can be quite harsh on you baby’s sensitive skin (particularly if they’re less than six months old). Try and dress your babies in clothing that covers their entire body (including a hat to protect their faces) and keep them out of the sun at all times.
Once they are above six months old, use a baby-safe sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30, water-resistant and broad-spectrum, and then slather it on any exposed skin. Spray sunscreens are often preferable for children for ease of application but make sure it is applied evenly and doesn’t go into their eyes.
Don’t forget to apply their sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going out into the sun and then reapply at least every 2 hours (especially if they are swimming as it can sometimes wash off).
Remember to always patch test on their skin before you apply to reduce any reactions.
There’s a reason ‘no hat, no play’ is enforced in schools; clothing can be one of your child’s biggest allies in protection from the sun. UV protection factor (UPF) is important to pay attention to when buying protective clothing for your babies. The higher the factor the more protection, fabrics with a UPF between 15 and 50 are ideal and will shield their skin from the sun.
Coverage is also critical, so long-sleeves and long pants will offer the most protection, but understandably these can sometimes make your child feel too warm in summer. Opt for sun-safe fabrics that are breathable or made specifically for sun exposure.
Finding the right shady space can sometimes be difficult as they’re often already taken (particularly in a park or at the beach). Often, shade isn’t protective particularly if the sun can creep in, but it will help with the heat. To beat this, always use sunscreen and make sure your child is wearing protective clothing (remember their hats). If you can’t find your own shade, make it! Bring a beach umbrella or even a little sun-safe tent for your children to play in; it can offer protection and shade.
Car windows can be a hidden danger for your child’s skin, with the protection offered by the windows at the back of the car often less protective than those at the front. Investing in some window sunshades for the back windows is a good idea and will also help keep your child cool during long summer drives.
If you’re still worried about their sun exposure in their car you can put on protective clothing, hats and a little sunscreen for extra protection.
Be the role-model
Like with anything, your child will learn by example, if they see you’re not applying sunscreen or wearing equally protective clothing, they will resist your efforts. By having proper sun protection techniques yourself, it will be easier to implement on your children. Explaining to your child why you’re dressing them up in special clothing or sunscreen can also help them understand why it’s essential to protect themselves from the sun.
Sun protection can sometimes be tricky but is vital to keep your little ones safe and protected. Enjoying the sun with your children is one of the best activities for you and your family and will result in lifelong memories!