I am “snow” over the weather of the past month! I am ready for the sunshine and longer days of Spring! Part of my excitement stems from the ability to get outside and play with my kids. However, all that fun in the sun can be dangerous for babies and toddlers, especially in the spring, when the temperature may be cool enough that we don’t feel the burn. Your baby’s skin is especially sensitive to sun during all seasons. Here are some helpful hints to avoid dangerous sun exposure for your baby:
No sun fun for babies under 6 months: Infants under 6 months should avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Use window shields in your vehicle to block UV Rays. Limit outside walks to before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Make sure to use a stroller with a visor which provides shade for your little one. Dress your baby in light, loose clothing which covers as much of his body as you can. Accessorize with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect your baby’s face. Sunscreen is not yet appropriate to use on your baby under 6 months.
Dress to protect: For all infants and toddlers, dress them in clothing which can offer protection from the sun. Loose, lightweight clothing in materials such as cotton is best to block the harmful UV rays. Some clothing is available with built in SPF protection. Keep an extra stash of clothing in your diaper bag or in your car for unexpected outside activities. Hats with wide brims and sunglasses are a great way to protect your baby’s face and eyes. The earlier you start, the less fighting you will have with your baby about wearing them.
Apply sunscreen and repeat often: After 6 months of age, sunscreen is appropriate to put on your baby or toddler. Make sure you are using a sunscreen that offers at least SPF 15+. You also want to check that it covers a broad spectrum. Some sunscreens also are “tear-free”, so they do not sting if your baby gets some in his eyes. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan to go outside and at least every two hours. You will have to apply more often if playing in the water. Finally, replenish your stock of sunscreen frequently as the effectiveness of the active ingredients wears off over time.
Avoid complications from the heat: In addition to the strategies above, make sure you take precautions against the heat as well. Visit places with air conditioning on days with extreme heat. Cool down your car before taking drives. Make sure your baby is drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Have fun in the shade to avoid the heat of direct sun.
Lead the charge and check in with other caregivers: Be a good role model by modeling the importance of sun precautions. Your baby or toddler is watching the way you protect yourself from the sun. Also, check with other caregivers to make sure they are on board with the sun protection measures you have chosen as well.
Remember, we are here to help you if you have concerns about your child’s development! Remember, Babies Can’t Wait! Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB: http://www.racsb.state.va.us/