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Important Tips For Baby Safety In The Sun

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Summer is that magical season that as a parent you both look forward to and dread. Everyone loves a sunny day, but you’ve got to be extra careful when it comes to your little bundle of joy. We all know that the sun can cause damage to our skin and hair, but this becomes even more crucial for our babies. Their skin and hair are especially sensitive to the harsh direct sunlight.

New parents especially tend to get flustered and are understandably unsure of how best to protect their little ones. Overdressing infants can cause heat exhaustion and a heat rash; while exposing their skin to the sun could potentially lead to heatstroke or sunburn. There are skin dryness and bug bites to deal with and SIDS has even been linked to babies in summer, because in the hot weather babies often sleep more deeply, making it harder to wake them up. Before you freak out, take a deep breath and exhale. The following guide will explain how to keep your baby healthy, protected and cool in summer. You can be out and about enjoying the gorgeous weather with your child; you just need to make sure to take certain precautions. Here’s what you need to know about warm-weather and summer hair and skin care for your little one.

Baby Safety In The Sun

Mom and baby wearing sunglasses.

Baby sun time!

Babies under six months have skin that is thin and delicate, so you should always try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible at this tender age. When you simply can’t avoid it, put a wide-brimmed hat on the baby and always find a good sunscreen and apply it minimally to exposed skin (and the face). Once your baby is over six months old, he can use sunscreen more frequently and in larger quantities.

Always reapply it after two hours and opt for a waterproof one for kids. Be sure to apply it under clothing, because typical baby clothing does not provide enough protection. Light-weight, long-sleeved clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen offer the widest protection when outdoors. If possible, have your child play in the shade during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This Is What To Look For In A Baby Sunscreen

Baby lounging in inflatable in water.

Sunscreen for babies.

  • You can use a ‘children’s’ or ‘baby’s’ sunscreen, but you don’t need to go out of your way to buy one. They’re usually no different from the adult products.
  • As with all baby products, try to find one that contains the least amount of artificial ingredients.
  • It should be labelled ‘broad-spectrum’. This means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • The Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, should be 30 or more. The SPF numbers indicate how much protection it has against sunburn, which is caused mainly by UVB rays. Although you can choose one if you wish, an SPF higher than 30 does not provide a great deal more protection. A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will provide 93 percent protection against the sun’s burning rays. A sunscreen with SPF 30 will provide 96 percent protection and SPF 60 will provide 98 percent protection, etc. Double the SPF does not mean double the protection. The higher SPF you go, the difference becomes smaller. No matter how high the factor is, no sunscreen can offer total protection against the sun. Pick a sunscreen that is water resistant and check the “use by” date on the bottle.
  • Before applying sunscreen, do a patch test to check that your child is not allergic or sensitive to it. If you find any rashes or redness, check with your doctor and use the recommended brand. Repeat the patch test with the new brand.
  • Gently apply the sunscreen to clean, dry skin and rub it in very lightly. When applying it on your baby’s face, take care to avoid the eyes. Apply sunscreen liberally to cover all exposed skin, including your child’s ears, neck, hands, and feet. Remember, more is better when it comes to sunscreen. Don’t skimp on covering up.
  • Reapply the sunscreen every two hours, or more if washed, rubbed, or sweated off.
  • Sunscreen is not only for clear sunny days. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. You can check the national UV Index to find the specific UV risk for your area on any given day.

Dealing With Sunburn

Because a baby’s skin is thin and delicate, it can easily get sunburned, and that can really hurt. To make matters worse, bad childhood sunburns doubles the risk of malignant melanoma, the most deadly kind of skin cancer, later in life, which is why prevention is so important. If your child does get a sunburn, you’ll want to first cool the skin by gently applying a cold, wet washcloth for ten to 15 minutes, three or four times a day, until the redness goes away.

After you do that, soothe the skin with Aloe-Vera gel or a mild hypoallergenic moisturizer. Always consult a doctor if the sunburn is anything other than mild. You’ll generally be able to tell the difference between a rosy red color and an angry bright shade. The baby will also be much fussier with a bad burn.

Dealing With Heat Rash

Heat rash is a common summer skin-care problem. It shows up as tiny red bumps on the face, neck, armpits, and upper torso, and can make you’re poor baby very unhappy. That’s because the bumps, which are caused by clogged sweat-gland pores that trap perspiration, are itchy and uncomfortable.

If your child has a heat rash, you can cool them off with a lukewarm bath. Use a mild soap, but do not use any powder or lotion after, which can further block pores. The rash will usually fade within a week, but call the doctor if you see blisters and swelling (those could be signs of a yeast or bacterial infection).

Utilizing A Bath To Cool Your Baby

Baby taking a bath

Baby bath time.

Babies are likely to sweat a lot (relatively) in the heat. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to bathe them more often. But giving them more frequent baths, especially if they enjoy it, can be a good way to cool them down. Though babies, in general, do not need a bath every day (assuming you’re quick with clean diapers, messy feedings, and spit-ups, you’re already cleaning the parts that really need attention: the face, neck and diaper area), if they are restless and the weather is very hot, they may have in addition one or two sponge baths a day.

You should not give your baby more than two baths a day because this can cause their body temperature to fluctuate too much, which is really not good for them.

A cool bath at bedtime sometimes makes the baby sleep more comfortably. For babies under a year, the water should be tepid; that is, it should feel neither hot nor cold to your elbow. For older babies, it may be slightly cooler, but should not be cold enough to chill or frighten them. Though you do not need to use soap and shampoo each time, when you are using cleansers very little should be used. If you use extra baths to keep your baby cool, you certainly don’t need to use a cleanser more than once a day.

Just let the baby enjoy the water for five to ten minutes at a time. If you feel that your baby’s skin is getting dry, reduce the number of baths and see if that helps. Remember that their skin is sensitive, so try to buy moisturizing soap and shampoos that have organic ingredients like botanical surfactants and oils. Soap and shampoos containing mild smelling essential oils like lavender and chamomile often have a calming effect on babies!