How to Soak up the Sun, Safely

July 5, 2016

Sun Safety for Babies and Moms

Warm weather, beach days, picnics, and plenty of sunshine – who doesn’t love summer?

But along with all of that sunshine and time spent outside, comes the risk of sunburns, heat rash, and more. And while we all know the importance of wearing sunscreen every day, if you’re pregnant or have a baby in tow, there are special considerations you need to take when protecting yourself and your little one from the sun.

Here’s what you need to know before hitting the beach (or park, or zoo, or pool…).

During Pregnancy

While you’re pregnant, your body’s pigment-producing cells kick into overdrive, making you more susceptible to the sun’s UV rays, and therefore more susceptible to skin damage ranging from freckles to sunburns. Fortunately, with a little planning, you can protect yourself.

  • Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours (more if you’re swimming or sweating a lot)
  • Try using a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide-based sunscreen – these formulas actually block the sun’s rays from being absorbed in your skin
  • Throw on a sun-protective cover up, floppy hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • And while the sun doesn’t directly affect your baby bump, be sure you’re careful not to overheat.

Infants 0-6 months

At this age, your baby’s skin has very little melanin, which is the pigment that gives color to our skin and provides us with some natural sun protection. This makes babies especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. And because baby’s skin is too sensitive for sunscreen, you’ll need to take other steps to block the sun.

  • Dress your little one in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs
  • Find a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that will protect your baby’s face, neck and ears (they’ll look so cute, you’ll never want to take it off)
  • Avoid being outside when the sun’s rays are the strongest – generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. – and use a stroller with a protective cover if you are outside
  • Try removable mesh window shields or UV window films in your car to keep direct sunlight and harmful rays from coming through

Infants 6-12 months

When your baby is a little bit older, you can begin using sunscreen. But your baby’s sensitive skin is still incredibly vulnerable to the sun’s rays at this age, so be sure to check with your pediatrician first.

  • Just like adults, older babies should be on a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 30 or higher
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, and be sure to reapply every two hours (more if baby is swimming or sweating)
  • Make sure you cover all exposed areas of your baby’s skin with sunscreen, including the tips of the ears, the back of the neck, and the tops of the feet
  • Continue to dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs
  • Top off your baby’s sunny summer look with a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
  • As with younger infants, it’s still important to avoid being outside when the sun’s rays are the strongest, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Don’t forget, you and your baby can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. So make sure you follow these precautions every day, and not just on clear, sunny days.

What other tips do you have for staying sunburn free? Share in the comments below.

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