Everyone is susceptible to the harmful UV rays from the sun, but one particularly vulnerable population is small children. Infants’ and toddlers’ delicate skin require special attention when it comes to sun protection.
Infants younger than 6 months
In the first 6 months of life, it’s recommended that babies are completely shielded from the sun. This is the period when their skin is most sensitive to sun exposure. Protect your baby by avoiding direct sun exposure and opting for shaded paths when possible. Dress your baby in lightweight garments that cover the arms and legs completely and invest in a sun shield for your stroller and car seat, as damaging sunlight can penetrate rear car windows. A wide-brimmed hat and UV-filtering sunglasses provide additional protection.
Infants older than 6 months
At 6 months old, it’s appropriate to begin using a titanium dioxide and zinc oxide-based sunscreen on your child. Other active ingredients, such as oxybenzone, may irritate your child’s sensitive skin. Choose a sunscreen strength of SPF 30 or higher and reapply every two hours. For maximum protection, apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.
Toddlers older than 12 months
The same rules apply for shading, protective clothing and sunscreen use as children get older. As kids become more mobile it can become more difficult to ensure reapplication of sunscreen throughout the day. Help to avoid this issue by instilling these sun-safety habits at a young age.
Evidence suggests sunburns and sun exposure at a young age can substantially increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Protect your child before they can protect themselves with these age-based tips.