How can I protect my
baby or toddler from the sun?

Ideally, parents should avoid exposing babies younger than 6 months to the sun’s rays.

The best way to protect infants from the sun is to keep them in the shade as much as possible, in addition to dressing them in loose fitting long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat that shields the face, ears, back of the neck and sunglasses with at least 99% UVA/UVB protection. If you can’t find shade, create your own using an umbrella, canopy, or the hood of a stroller. Make sure they do not get overheated and that they drink plenty of fluids. If your baby is fussy, crying excessively, or has redness on any exposed skin, take him or her indoors.

Minimize sunscreen use on children younger than six months old. However, if shade and adequate clothing are not available, The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all kids — regardless of their skin tone — wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that is broad-spectrum and water resistant.

For babies older than 6 months, when outdoors, sunscreen should be applied to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes. If your baby rubs sunscreen into their eyes, wipe their eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after getting out of the water. Sunscreens that use zinc oxide may cause less irritation and/or allergic reactions to their sensitive skin. If a rash develops please call our office.

Other elements of a sun safe strategy include: wearing clothing made with a tight weave. If you are not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through, the less the better. You can also look for protective clothing labeled with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) and limiting your sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the UV rays are the strongest.  Remember to set a good example by practicing sun safety yourself.

The sun gives energy to all living things on earth, but it can also harm us. Its ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin and eyes and cause skin cancer. One-quarter of our lifetimes sun exposure happens during childhood and adolescence. Even one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chances of developing Melanoma later in life. Since children spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in the summer, it's important to protect them from the sun. 

Talk with your dermatologist if you have any questions about sun protection for your child.