Keep Baby Safe in the Sun

image001Sunlight can be a serious threat to your baby’s health because infants, just like adults or older children, can suffer from serious health problems if they are exposed to too much of it.

Parents and caregivers need to be aware of the dangers that the sun poses to babies. Unfortunately, many of them learn this lesson the hard way. Every year thousands of babies end up in doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, and hospitals because of exposure to the sun. Many of those tragedies could have been averted if the parents had simply been aware of the danger from the sun and taken a few simple precautions to protect infants.

Why Should You Keep Baby Safe in the Sun?

The biggest danger that the sun poses for babies is sunburn; just like everybody else, babies can get sunburned. Children under six months old are even more susceptible to sunburn than older infants, but all babies are in danger.

Many cases of sunburned babies occur because of two myths about sun exposure. The first of these is that dark skinned babies are less susceptible to sunburn; that simply is not true. All babies are very susceptible to sunburn, and darker skin will not provide any more protection. The second myth is that the danger from sunburn is lessened on a cloudy day, and that isn’t true either; the most dangerous of the sun’s rays easily penetrate clouds.

That means you need to take steps to protect your baby from the sun every time you take him outside. Sunburn can cause babies the same problems as adults, including increased chance of skin cancer, wrinkles, and freckles or blotches on the skin. Babies can also be affected by heat stroke, dehydration, and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

What Can You Do to Keep Baby Safe in the Sun?

Your baby needs the same protection from the sun as everybody else does. No matter how young your baby is, you need to take a few common sense steps to protect him from the sun. These steps include:

  • Make sure your baby’s skin is covered when you take him outside. Cover the entire body with light weight clothing to keep the sun off.
  • Try not to take the baby outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Those are the times when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Keep baby in the shade in a carriage or under an umbrella when you are out in the sun.
  • Put a broad spectrum sunscreen on your baby’s face and other exposed areas of his body. A broad spectrum sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays from the sun; these are the most dangerous. Such sunscreens are sold in almost all drug and discount stores and supermarkets.
  • The sunscreen must have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Generally, the higher the SPF is, the more effective the sunscreen will be. Make sure the sunscreen is water soluble so it will not wash off because of sweat.
  • Apply sunscreen every few hours because it can wear off during the day.
  • Put a hat on the baby when he is not in the shade. The hat should have a brim wide enough to shade baby’s face.
  • Use baby sunglasses to protect your child’s eyes because UVA and UVB rays can damage them too.
  • Make sure you take the sunburn precautions in winter because sunlight reflected by snow can burn a baby’s skin.

Watch this video to learn how you can keep baby safe in the sun:

The Best Treatment for Your Baby’s Sunburn

All parents need to be aware of sunburn and how to protect against it because your baby might suffer from it no matter how many precautions you take.

What You Can Do

How You Do It

Supply enough fluid

The first thing you need to do with a sunburned baby is to feed him because the child is probably dehydrated as well as burnt. If the baby is breastfeeding, give him plenty of milk or formula. If the baby is eating solid foods or formula, give him lots of extra water.

Soothe the burnt skin with cool water

The best treatment for sunburn is to soothe the burnt areas with a cloth that has been soaked in cool water. Make sure that the cloth is clean. Repeat the process every 10 to 15 minutes or a few times a day until the redness disappears.

Never use ice

Something you must never do is to put ice or ice water on the burnt skin. This can make the problem worse by further damaging the skin.

Have a lukewarm bath

Letting the baby soak in a lukewarm bath can also relieve the symptoms of sunburn. Make sure the bath is not too hot or cold, and take the baby out if he becomes uncomfortable. Some experts recommend adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the bath.

Apply some skin product

If the baby starts itching, treat the affected skin with Aloe Vera Gel, Calamine lotion, or a water-based moisturizing product. Never use a petroleum-based product such as Vaseline or first-aid products, because this can make the problem worse.

Use an infant pain reliever

You can use an infant pain reliever if the baby is over two months old. Only use such a pain reliever when the baby is in obvious pain.

When Should I Seek Medical Help for Sunburn?

Sunburns can sometimes lead to life threatening conditions, so you should seek medical help if one is serious. A parent should take the baby to the doctor or an emergency room if you see any of the following symptoms:

  • A fever
  • Chills
  • A headache
  • Serious pain or discomfort
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling on the hands or face
  • Blisters that appear within 24 hours of the burn
  • Pus or red streaks on burnt areas, which can be a symptom of an infection

Watch babies carefully after taking them outside on a hot or sunny day because it can take several hours for a sunburn to develop. If you see any of these symptoms, seek medical help.