Heading out for that family day at the beach? Watching your children swim in the pool? While you may have your bags packed with plenty of drinks and sunscreen, it’s important to remember that sun safety is different when it comes to small children, especially newborns and infants. Because babies are less able to regulate their body temperature, they are more easily dehydrated and at the mercy of the sun. Check out these sun safety tips to help you keep your little one enjoying the warm weather.

  • Babies should be kept in the shade and dressed in cool clothing that offers protection from the sun. This should include a brimmed hat to keep the sun off their heads and necks, especially if your baby does not have hair. Avoid layering clothes and be sure your baby is not overheating due to clothing while outdoors.
  • Babies less than six months old should not be exposed to direct sunlight. At this point in age, their skin lacks the necessary melanin to protect them from harmful UV rays.
  • Sunblock is not recommended for babies less than six months of age. Protective clothing and shade are best for preventing sunburn and sun damage in infants.
  • If you child is older than six months, select a sunblock that has a wide range of UV protection and an SPF of at least 30. You should apply sunblock generously, and reapply frequently, especially after spending time in the water.
  • Sunblock that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is best for small children, as these tend to not irritate the skin.
  • Avoid exposing children to sun during the peak of the sun’s strength, which is usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Finding shade during this time is best.

In the event your child does get a sunburn, follow the tips below. If the sunburn is severe, and especially if blisters develop, you should seek medical attention for your child.

  • Give your child a bath using cool (not cold) water or apply a cool compress to help alleviate the pain and heat in the skin.
  • Apply pure aloe vera gel to the sunburned areas. This is available at most drug stores.
  • If your child is old enough to take medicine, an anti-inflammatory like acetaminophen may be used. Always follow dosage instructions on the bottle.
  • Applying moisturizing cream can help alleviate itching as well as rehydrate skin. Do not use petroleum-based products, as this may prevent heat and sweat from leaving the skin.
  • Remember to keep your child out of the sun until the sunburn has subsided, as more sun will only worsen the symptoms or lead to further skin damage.

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