Although fun in the sun is great for the entire family, sometimes parents are forced to make decisions that they’re unaware could harm the weakest member of their family – the baby. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), infants out in the sun with too much sunscreen on can cause more harm than families may think.
“The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun,” Cheryl Sachs, pediatrician at the FDA, says, “and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”
So, what are some of the reasons why babies’ skin has to be more protected from sunlight? In comparison to adults and children, babies’ skin absorbs far more chemicals from sunscreen than most would expect. Not to mention, babies’ have a far higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to most adults and children. With these factors in mind, heavy chemical exposure to creams such as sunscreen could put your baby at risk for allergic reactions or inflammation.
The smartest way to protect your infant from risk of burns from the sun or exposure to dangerous chemicals is to simply keep your baby out of the sun directly. Do whatever is necessary to create an environment where the baby is not exposed to overheating by using a large-brimmed umbrella, dressing the baby in light-weight clothes that cover him or her fully, and keep the baby fully hydrated.
Some other tips to keep in mind during the hot summer months are:
• Watch your baby carefully for any warning signs of sunburn or dehydration, which include fussiness, redness, and excessive crying.
• If you do not have a shaded area to be with your baby, create one out of towels or sheets.
• If you are out in the sun with the baby, it is okay to use a very small amount of sunscreen on more sensitive areas such as their cheeks and the backs of their hands.
• Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shading all around their head at all times.
For more information regarding safety out in the sun with your infant, go to www.FDA.gov.