There’s a reason why your baby’s skin is so soft and precious: it’s brand new! Your baby’s skin hasn’t had the time to brave harsh weather or the elements as much as adults, which is why it’s so important to protect your baby’s skin for as long as possible. Especially since we live in Florida – where the sun seems to shine even at night! – it’s incredibly important to provide your baby with as much sun protection as possible. If you’re not sure if sunscreen is safe, how much to use or when to use it, we’re here to help!
Babies Can Wear Sunscreen – Depending on Age
Should you take your baby out into direct sunlight? Not until your baby is at least six months of age. While it’s fine to enjoy a lovely walk outside during the day, it’s advised to keep your young baby out of the sun and to try to avoid exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when UV rays are most intense. The reason for the extra safety measures is that babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a greater surface area to body weight ratio, meaning that their exposure to chemicals in sunscreen may be greater, which also increases the side effects from sunscreen.
Once your baby reaches six months of age, you can begin to use a sunscreen that is recommended for babies. While you should still avoid the sun and provide a shady environment for your baby, having the ability to use sunscreen will help for safe beach days and playtime in the park. If you want to be extra careful, check with your pediatrician or dermatologist for what he/she would recommend that would be best for your baby.
What is the Best Baby Sunscreen?
Once your baby reaches the appropriate age to wear sunscreen, it is still important to remember that the shade is still her/his best friend! Sunscreen should be used as an added protective measure, and not as a one-stop-sun-shop. So, when looking for a safe sunblock, make sure to choose a formula with an active ingredient list that includes only titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These ingredients are considered physical or mineral sunscreens, meaning that they sit on the surface of your baby’s skin to deflect the sun’s rays, versus being absorbed like chemical sunscreens. It’s also best to find a product that is broad-spectrum, gentle, tear-free, hypoallergenic, and free of dyes, fragrances, parabens, phthalates and PABA.
How Much Sunscreen is Safe to Use?
To reduce the amount of sunscreen you need to use, make sure to dress your baby in long-sleeved, sun-protective clothing and a sun hat. Next, apply a thin layer of baby sunscreen on any areas exposed to the sun, including hands, ears, neck, feet, face, etc. It’s important to make sure you use an SPF 30 or higher, and apply at least 15 minutes to 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Reapply every two hours that you’re outside and immediately after your baby enjoys any water-based activities.
Remember that even on cloudy days, or days where you plan to only play outside for a few minutes, sunburns can happen. Most sun exposure happens from daily activities, so it’s important to always be vigilant and practice the “better safe than sorry” method of sun protection.
What Other Sun Protection Methods Can I Use?
While baby-safe sunscreen is a great option for babies who are old enough and who enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle with their family, there are also other options for minimizing sun exposure without sunscreen.
- Dress your baby in sun-protective clothing (including a hat!) when you know you’re going to be outdoors and don’t know if there will be shade available
- Bring an umbrella or small tent if you are unsure about shade opportunities at any new venue you visit
- Enjoy outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the harshest UV rays during 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Carefully watch your baby to make sure she/he isn’t showing any signs of sunburn or dehydration, which include fussiness, redness or excessive crying
- Make sure to hydrate! Give your baby formula or breast milk if you’re going to be out in the sun for even a short period of time
- If your baby is getting sunburned, find shade right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas
With the correct sun protection measures in place, you and your little one can enjoy fun in the sun! If you have any skin concerns after taking your baby out in the sun or to the beach, or would like to make sure your baby’s skin is as healthy as it should be, we’re here to help. Skin care is important regardless of age, and we are committed to helping our patients (big and small!) achieve their skin care goals and enjoy the skin they’re in. Please give us a call or email us to schedule an appointment today!