Sunscreen for Babies
Protecting your skin from the sun should always remain a high priority, especially during Florida’s hot spring and summer months. However, you cannot always slather your baby in sunscreen the same way you cover yourself. With summer right around the corner, it is important to understand sunscreen safety rules for your infant.
Don’t Use Sunscreen Until Six Months of Age
We have always been taught that sunscreen is a requirement when spending time in the sun, but that advice doesn’t apply the same way to infants under the age of six months. Your baby’s skin is far less mature than your own, and your baby has a higher surface area to body weight ratio than older children. Both of these differences place your young infant at an increased risk of suffering side effects from the chemicals found in most sunscreen formulas. Furthermore, since your infant’s skin is still so sensitive, exposure to UV rays can cause burning and other damage very quickly.
All of this means it is best to simply keep your infant out of the sun altogether. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so stay inside or in the shade during those hours. If venturing into the sun is unavoidable, utilize alternative methods of sun protection like creating shade with an umbrella and placing your baby in a brimmed hat and lightweight protective clothing. Just remember that infants don’t sweat like adults do to cool down, so you must watch your baby carefully to ensure he isn’t becoming overheated or dehydrated.
After Six Months, Opt For Safe and Gentle Sunscreens
Not all sunscreens are formulated with the same ingredients. In fact, many of the most popular sunscreen brands are created with ingredients like oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate that have been uncovered as potential hormone disruptors within the body. Once your baby hits the six month mark, your goal is to protect him from the sun’s harmful UV rays without slathering him in sunscreen that will also place him at risk of health problems. Select a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient, since both are safe and will not irritate your baby’s skin or harm his body.
Be sure to apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours. If your child has spent time in the water, apply even more frequently. Just be sure you apply with a sunscreen lotion, not a spray. Though the sunscreen sprays are convenient, they aren’t always the best choice. The chemicals in sunscreen sprays might be dangerous to your baby’s lungs, and they often don’t cover the skin with a uniform coating of UV protection. By making smart sunscreen choices for your baby, you can ensure full protection and fun in the sun.