Now that we’re already at the tail end of June (How?), most of us are probably spending a lot of time outside near splash pads, pools, lakes or other bodies of water. Of course, being outside means more sun exposure. For you and your older kiddos, feel free to lather up with some good SPF sunscreen. But what about infants?
If you have a little one under 6 months of age, most sunscreens are not recommended for protection from the sun. Dr. Nnenna Agim, pediatric dermatologist at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern, says topical sunscreens aren’t recommended because there can be excessive absorption. “[This] is possible given their greater body surface area to volume ratio, [so] application of sunscreen is not recommended.”
So what should you do to make sure baby’s sensitive skin isn’t severely impacted by the harmful rays?
Dr. Jennifer Gittleman, pediatrician at Cook Children’s, says the “best practice is to always keep them out of direct sunlight, especially during those peak hours of 10am and 4pm.”
So gear baby up in sun protective clothing. “Keep their skin covered with light-weight pants, a light-weight, long-sleeved shirt and a big floppy hat. If you notice redness, the best thing to do is bring them indoors,” she says.
Some clothes even have SPF protection incorporated into the fabric. There are also detergents that can add an additional layer of protection called UPF. “These agents can be used to launder infant clothing, and it lasts up to 20 washes,” Agim says.
And don’t forget spending your time in those shady spots. Agim recommends anything shady, such as a canopy, stroller, patio roof or dense trees.
Of course, sun exposure is sometimes unavoidable.
In that case, Gittleman says you can use a small amount of sunscreen on those exposed surfaces. “Be careful though,” she warns, “because infants’ skin is sensitive and can be irritated even just from sunscreen. The sunscreen products made for infants may be less irritating to their skin, but again, the best thing to do is actually keep them out of the sun’s rays.”
Finally, pay attention to any medications your baby is taking. Some ingredients in common meds can increase sensitivity to the sun. Agim says one of those is none other than ibuprofen. “When in doubt, confirm any needed precautions with your prescribing physician,” she suggests. “Breast and bottle-fed infants receive sufficient vitamin D through their diet and have no need for sun exposure to avert deficiencies. With the right preparation, your infant can enjoy family outings without adverse consequence.”
Image courtesy of iStock.