Yesterday was the first day of summer, and the sun is at its strongest. Is your baby ready for the sunny days? Many parents are still unsure whether it is necessary and safe to use sunscreen for their infants. Here are some simple rules to follow when it comes to sun protection.
- Babies under 6 months old are better off without any sunscreen. That means they require shade and coverage – think umbrellas, canopies, long sleeved clothes and hats. When choosing a hat, go for a soft, wide-brim one as opposed to baseball hats that do not protect neck and ears.
- For babies over six months of age, use a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens that work by creating a physical barrier between skin and sunrays. These sunscreens start working right away, unlike chemical sunscreens that require application 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure.
- Don’t miss these sensitive areas: scalp (hairline and part), lips, and ears. All these have thinner skin, and are often overlooked when sunscreen is applied.
As a general rule, it is best to stay out of the sun when it is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you are choosing between a cream and a spray form of sunscreen, go for a cream one, as a child might inhale the spray option. It is recommended to use at least SPF15 for babies, and studies show that anything higher than SPF30 does not provide any additional protection.