Baby Sun Protection: Everything Parents Should Know
As an adult, sunburn can be a pesky holiday annoyance. But for a baby, sunburn is incredibly painful, and can even irreversibly damage the skin. So whether you’re planning a trip abroad, or the summer temperatures are soaring at home, it’s essential to get clued up on baby sun protection - especially for babies under 6 months.
In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about protecting your baby’s delicate skin from harmful UV rays, whether it be choosing the right SPF or learning how to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Let’s take a look!
Why is it important to protect a baby’s skin from the sun?
Like any other organ of the body, the skin is still in development when you’re a baby. In fact, babies under 6 months don’t yet have enough melanin in their skin to protect themselves from sun damage; this lack of melanin means that baby skin is incredibly susceptible to sun damage and sunburn, which is why being sun-aware is absolutely vital for any new parent.
Studies have even shown that early exposure to UV rays in children under 6 months have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer in later life, so it’s important to be proactive early on. Luckily, there are many easy ways for you to protect your little one’s delicate skin during the sunnier months.
How to keep your baby safe in the sun
Whether you’re going on holiday or it’s simply a warm summer’s day at home, here’s how you can protect your baby’s skin from UV damage:
Avoid direct sunlight
No matter how much SPF you apply, it’s still a bad idea to expose any child under the age of 6 months to direct sunlight. As previously mentioned, your baby’s body is still developing melanin at up to 6 months, meaning the skin remains highly vulnerable to UV damage.
It can be difficult to shield your child completely from the sun if you’re out and about, but take care to find shaded areas if you’re going to be stopping outdoors for lengthy periods of time. For example, if you’re stopping at a curbside café or restaurant, look for a shaded area, and station your baby’s pram or buggy away from any direct sunlight exposure. When it comes to travelling in the car, it’s a good idea to invest in a sun visor for the back windows - this will protect your baby’s skin while you’re on-the-go.
Avoid the hottest points of the day
In the UK, the sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it can be a good idea to keep your baby out of the sun during these hours, especially in the summer. If you do go out, you can buy your baby a wide-brimmed hat to protect their face from the sun while outdoors, or fix a sun-blocking parasol to your pram if your baby isn’t walking yet.
Use a child-friendly SPF 30
Even when not exposed to direct sunlight, your baby’s delicate skin is still susceptible to sun damage and sunburn. To prevent UV damage, apply an SPF 30 to your baby’s body and face every 2-3 hours, making more regular applications if your baby is swimming, playing in a paddling pool, or if you’re outdoors in direct sunlight. You’ll want to opt for a baby-friendly SPF, such as Frezyderm infant sun care for babies. Many popular SPFs designed for adults contain certain irritants and alcohols that can irritate your baby’s skin, so it’s best to to opt for products designed for little ones.
You’ll also want to make sure that your chosen SPF protects against both UVB and UVA rays - while UVA rays are typically known to cause skin ageing, they can actually penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays and cause serious skin cell damage.
When can you start using SPF on babies?
We’d recommend waiting until your baby is at least 6 months before applying an SPF. While it is still safe to apply a small amount of gentle SPF to a baby under 6 months, it’s much more effective to keep them out of direct sunlight altogether. Often, applying an SPF can often give parents a false sense of security; by instead taking active steps to avoid the sun, your baby will be better protected.
So, until your baby reaches 6 months, it’s a good idea to protect their skin from the sun by simply avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible. This doesn’t mean keeping your baby indoors at all times - you can take simply take easy measures such as installing sun visors in your car, avoiding the hottest parts of the day, and keeping your baby’s face shielded from sunlight with a wide-brimmed hat.
How do I protect a newborn baby from the sun?
Just like with older babies, you can protect your newborn from the sun by taking active measures to avoid direct exposure to sunlight. You should dress your newborn in lightweight, breathable clothes (avoid any tight fabrics) and make sure to attach a sun-shielding parasol to the pram or buggy when outdoors. Don’t use a blanket or a throw - this can cause your baby to become overheated in the pram, and overheating is a dangerous risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.)
Should I put sunscreen on my baby everyday?
If you’re familiar with anti-ageing skincare, you may already know that adults can benefit from wearing an SPF every day. However, this isn’t always the case for your baby. If your baby is under 6 months old, their skin may be too delicate to filter certain chemicals in sunscreen, and this can cause allergies or skin rashes. For babies under six months, simply avoid UV damage by simply avoiding direct exposure to sunlight.
That being said, babies over 6 months can benefit from using a child-friendly SPF whenever they’re going outdoors. Baby skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes, so there’s no harm in adding an extra layer of sun protection.