The first day of summer is just around the corner, but we're already starting to have some beautiful sunny days filled with playdates, bike rides, picnics and more. So it's probably a good time to brush up on your summer sun safety, especially with those sweet babies and little kiddos!
Babies and small children's skin can be more vulnerable to the sun and susceptible to burning. Even just one significant burn "can potentially double your child's chances of getting melanoma later in life," says Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist. So it's super important to take the time and necessary precautions to help protect your children's skin and future health. Here's some useful information and resources for keeping your children safe while still having plenty of fun in the sun!
Limit the time in the sun. It's important to try and limit the amount of time your kids spend outside during the hottest hours (11a-4p). This rule is especially important for infants & babies, who aren't able to sweat enough to help keep their internal temperature down. Most providers state that for children six months and younger, the safest sun is no sun. Investing in a good umbrella or pop-up tent is an excellent way to protect their delicate skin but still allow them to enjoy the fun and outdoors.
Slather on the Sunscreen. Apply sunscreen to your child 20-30 minutes before leaving the house. Sunscreens don't adhere well to skin once its sweaty or damp, and this allows it to form a nice protective layer on the skin. Choosing the right sunscreen can be frustrating, but knowing the difference between the them can help guide you in selecting what is best for your family. Remember, even when it's a cloudy day, the sun's rays are stronger than they appear!
SPF - 30 SPF (sun protection factor) is the most highly effective and recommended SPF amongst
them all. Anything over that is fine, but does not provide a great deal more protection from the sun.
Sunblock - a more natural form of protection that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are ingredients commonly used in diaper rash creams and are generally well-tolerated by babies. Sunblock sits on top of the skin and creates a barrier and actually blocks UV light. This can be a good option for sensitive skin.
Sunscreen - conventional sunscreens like Banana Boat or Coppertone have more chemicals in their ingredients and work by absorbing UV light.
"Broad-spectrum" - it's helpful to pick sun protection that is labeled 'broad-spectrum' as it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
Reapply! Reapply! Reapply! Make sure to reapply every 2 hours. When it comes to water, always make sure to reapply sunscreen (even when it states that it's "waterproof") especially after swimming and toweling off, as it gradually loses it's effectiveness. Sunscreen sticks are great for the face because they are less likely to drip.
Dress appropriately. A sunhat that have a nice broad brim (~3 inches.) is a great investment. For children younger than 6 months, dress them in lightweight long pants and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt. Children over 6 months, can wear shorts and shirts that are a breathable fabric.
Bottoms up! - Keeping hydrated is important for every person who is outside during the summer months. For babies under 6 months who aren't drinking water, maintaining their normal breastfeeding or bottle routine is good, no need to over do it. If they're over 6 months and using a sippy cup, offer them water periodically, but no need to force it.
Seems overwhelming at first, but once you get into the routine of it, it will feel like second nature. If you kiddo doesn't like it, try making a game out of it! At the end of the day, practicing good summer sun safety at a young age can lead into a great healthy habit as an adult!
Here are a few products that I enjoy!
*As always, I encourage you to talk with your care provider about products and proper sun safety*