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Expert advice on sun safety for your baby

Expert advice on sun safety for your children

June 2, 2023

This article gives you some expert advice on sun safety for your children, when to start using sun cream and how to protect your littles ones from the sun’s UV rays.

As the weather is now hotting up, we all love to venture out to parks, the beach or even just out on walks or playing in the garden. It is important to look after your little one’s skin and protect them from harmful UV rays.

When to start using sun cream

It is advised not to use sun cream on your baby’s skin until the age of 6 months. Young babies have delicate, thin skin leaving them prone to rashes and reactions to sun creams.

Also, a young baby’s thermoregulation (the rate at which the body is able to cool itself down) is not fully developed. This means your baby could potentially overheat.

For babies under 6 months it is advisable to:

  • keep them out of the sun completely
  • do not be tempted to apply sun cream
  • use a sunshade or parasol on your pushchair or pram, ideally with a UV protection

For babies over 6 months:

  • ideally dress them in lightweight clothing with long sleeves and legs
  • use a sun cream which is designed for babies and children and wash it off as soon as you can
  • always use a sun hat, preferably with a panel to cover their neck
  • keep your baby out of the sun between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun us at its strongest

What factor sun cream should I use on my children?

Sun creams have 2 protection factors. UPF and UVA. UPF protects against the sun’s UBV rays – this is what causes burning and potential damage to the skin. The UVA rating measures the UVA radiation protection.

Good advice on sun safety for your children recommends to use a minimum of SFP30 on your children. Ideally a 50+ is better, it offers the strongest UBV protection. Always use a sun cream with a 5 star rating.

There are many organic sun creams on the market now which can potentially help to prevent against potential reactions. Look out for the organic certification to ensure the cream is actually organic.

How to apply sun cream to your little ones

Most people do not apply enough sun cream, applied too thinly means your child won’t get the right protection. It is recommended for an adult to use 35ml (around 7 teaspoons) so use a quarter to a half of this on your child.

Sun cream should be applied to all exposed areas of skin including the face, neck and ears before going out in the sun. Ensure you apply the cream around 30 mins before exposure and ensure you reapply every 2 hours. For toddlers, try to make it fun and encourage your child to understand the importance of sun protection. You could try using a stick so they can help, or use a make up brush so they can ‘paint’ it on themselves!

If your child is in and out of water you will need to reapply more regularly.

If you are using a spray remember that some of this can get dispersed into the air so try to apply out of any wind or breeze.

Expert advice on sun safety for your baby

How to treat sunburn

Should your child get sun burnt, cool the skin down using cool water. Then apply a natural aloe vera gel or cream to the affected area. Paracetamol can help ease the pain. Keep your child out of the sun until the redness has completely gone down and and ensure you apply additional sun cream before exposing the skin again.

Can sun cream go out of date?

Absolutely it can! Always look on the back of the bottle for an expiry date or a little symbol of a pot with an open lid. The number on that symbol shows how long the product is good for once opened. So if the pot has a number 12 on it means that the product is good for 12 months after opening.

Don’t be tempted to use a sun cream if you’re not sure when you opened it… it is just not worth the risk. Buy a new one!!

Teaching your child about sun safety

Once your little munchkin is ready to start school it is important that know how to apply sun cream themselves. Not all pre-schools will reapply sun screen to your child.

Explain to them about the times of day when the sun is at its hottest (between 11am and 3pm in the UK) and this is the time when they need to be protected. Teach them the shadow rule… as the sun rises and sets, your shadow is really long, this time is OK to play out in the sun. When the sun us higher in the sky and at its most dangerous our shadows are shorter, this is when they need to be protected, covered with suitable clothing, wearing a hat and staying in the shade.

Sun cream, sunscreen, sunblock… what does it all mean?

Sun cream and sunscreen are basically the same thing. In 2006 the European Commission banned the use of companies branding sun protection products as sunblock or 100% protection. No sun cream or sunscreen products can claim that they provide 100% protection against UV radiation.

A word of warning when it comes to prams and pushchairs

Never cover your baby’s pram or pushchair with a towel or blanket in hot weather. You may think this is a good idea to help protect your little one from the sun. In actual fact you are putting your baby at serious risk of overheating.

A carrycot with a towel or blanket over it can raise the temperature by 10 degrees. So if it is 24 degrees, within under 30 minutes of being covered with a towel or blanket, your carrycot will be at a temperature of 34 degrees… with practically NO air flow or ventilation.

This takes us back to your baby’s thermoregulation (the rate at which the body is able to cool itself down) we mentioned earlier. Your baby will soon overheat.

Please invest in a sun shade, parasol or similar and ensure that your baby gets adequate air flow and ventilation.

That completes our advice on sun safety for your children. We hope you all enjoy being outdoors with your little ones! Stay safe!

 

 

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