Keep Your Child Protected from the Sun

This is especially important for children who are under 2 years of age, but is something parents should be aware of for children of all ages. The skin of infants and little ones is very delicate and susceptible to the sun's harmful rays. Just a few minutes out in bright sunlight can not only burn a child's skin but can also cause eye damage!

Babies' skin is more sensitive because the outermost layer is thinner. Even children with deeply pigmented skin (darker) require maximum protection from the sun. Think about it - your baby can't tell you when he's too hot or that the sun is hurting his eyes. He may begin to cry and you have to try to figure out if he's wet or hungry or tired. Babies can't move themselves out of the sun and into the shade. They count on YOU to do this for them!

There are some easy ways to protect your child from sun damage. Keep babies younger than 1 year, out of direct sunlight altogether. This will prevent skin damage as well as dehydration. If you must take an infant out into direct sunlight, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  1. use an umbrella or a stroller canopy,
  2. dress the baby in protective clothing - if you can see through the fabric, the sun's rays can penetrate it! Comfortable long pants, long-sleeved shirts and broad brimmed hats are excellent ways to protect your little one.
  3. Use a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 15 (SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor)

Keep in mind that the sun is the hottest between the hours of 11am and 4 pm. Unless your child is protected, keep them out of the sun during those hours!

The American Academy of Pediatrics has determined that using sunscreen on infants is safe (as long as no allergy exists), if very small amounts are used, on small areas of a baby's face. Be very careful not to get the product in or near the child's eyes. Also, it's important to remember that babies often rub their eyes, so sunscreen should not be used on the backs of their hands.