A baby’s delicate skin can suffer the effects of sunburn very easily so keeping your baby safe in the sun is very important. Sunburn can cause pain heat stroke, dehydration and contribute to long-term complications such as skin cancer and wrinkles. Health professionals advocate that sunscreen should not be used on babies under 6 months of age, so the use of hats, clothing, sunglasses and shade to protect babies skin is highly recommended.
How to reduce risk of sunburn:
- The sun is the usually the strongest between 10 am and 4pm in Australia. So try keep out of the sun in between those hours.
- Keep your baby in the shade or use shade devices such as stroller covers or umbrellas when possible. But remember that shade will only provides partial protection against UV rays as they can reflect of many things.
- Dress your baby in loose and lightweight protective clothing. Pick light coloured clothing as it reflects the heat. Some clothing and swimmers even have fabric with sun protection built into them.
- Choose a wide brimmed or legionaries style hat to ensure the most sun protection for your child. If you can get your child to wear sunglasses, it will protect their delicate eyes. Check out babiators for cute, kid friendly (unbreakable!) sunnies.
- Be a role model. If you take sun safety precautions yourself, your child is more likely to do it too.
- If your baby is over 6 months of age, use broad spectrum sunscreen.
The low down on sunscreens
Sunscreens come in many forms such as spray, lotions or gels and depending on the composition either reflect, scatter or absorb the UV rays so that our skin doesn’t.
There are two types of UV rays that sunscreen can protect you from. UVB rays cause sunburn and several types of skin cancer while UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin and causes premature wrinkling, age spots and increase the risks of certain types of skin cancers. Sunscreens labelled ‘Broad spectrum’ will protect again both UVA and UVB.
So, What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and refers to how well and how long the sunscreen protects against UV radiation. The higher the SPF number, the more protection the solution will provide. Recent studies have shown that SPF15 protects against about 93 percent of UVB rays and SPF30 protects against 97 percent of rays. The Cancer Council recommends Applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors and reapplying sunscreen within two hours regardless of its strength, and using at least a shot glass-full to ensure maximum protection.
If you are going to use sunscreen on a baby, choose one labels sensitive skin or suitable for children as these will usually have less chemicals that may cause irritation. Always test the sunscreen on a small area of your baby’s skin to check for any skin reactions or allergies.