It is important for children to protect their skin while playing outside in the sun. Even a handful of sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer as an adult. Here are some tips on how to protect your family.
- Keep babies out of direct sunlight (under a tree, canopy, and umbrella)
- Wear protective clothing. If swimming, wear swimsuits/rashgaurd swimwear that covers arms and legs. Always wear a hat with a large brim. For extra protection, wear clothing labeled with an Ultra Protection Factor (UPF).
- Limit the time outside when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest. This is typically between the hours of 10am and 4pm.
- For children under 6 months, it’s best to avoid sun exposure and to use protective clothing gear such lightweight long pants, long sleeved shirt and a brimmed hat that shades the neck. Some recommend no sunblock for children under 6 months of age, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics if adequate clothes and shade are not available parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to the child for sun protection. If you cannot avoid sun exposure and sufficient protective clothing, I prefer the baby to wear sunblock and to not get burned than worrying about harms of sunblock absorption. If applying sunscreen to infants I recommend giving them a bath after they are done playing outside.
- Use a sunblock that is physical barrier sunblock that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These sunblocks create a physical barrier against the sun’s UV rays.
- Babies are often sensitive to skin products and you may have to try different sublocks to find the right one that works for your infant.
Toddlers and Children
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or over. Remember to get their nose, ears, neck, lips and feet. It is best to apply 30 minutes before going outside and reapply generously every 2 hours and after your child swims or sweats a lot (even if your sunblock is labeled water resistant). It is ok to use a physical barrier or chemical barrier sunscreen. Here’s a link of what to look for in a good sunscreen product http://www.aappublications.org/content/34/5/31.5
- Wear a hat and sunglasses while outside.
- Limit being outside between the hours of 10am and 4 pm
- Be extra careful around areas of sand, water and snow because sunburn can occur more quickly near areas that reflect the UV rays more readily.
- Set a good example. If you practice good sun protection habits your child will follow along.
Dr. Deborah Boyle
“How can I protect my child from the sun?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 25, April 2016. Web. 29 April 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/children.htm
“Sun and water safety tips” American Academy of Pediatrics. 2015. Web. 29 April 2016. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Sun-and-Water-Safety-Tips.aspx