If you’re going to the beach or you’re heading outside for a day in the sun, the first thing you should do is apply sunscreen. It helps block harmful UV rays that can cause burns, blisters, and even skin cancer. But, should sunscreen be applied to a young baby’s skin? Studies show that sunblock should be used cautiously in infants under 6 months of age.
An Infant’s Skin is Different
Various factors make a baby more susceptible to the chemicals in sunscreen because the ingredients can more easily penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. In addition, babies may directly ingest the sunscreen if they put their fingers in their mouth.
When Can a Baby Wear Sunscreen?
It is recommended by the AAP that sunscreen be used in only small areas (and only if other protective measures are not available) on babies under the age of six months. For babies over 6 months, you may want to perform a test on a small area of skin to see how they will react. If there is no visible redness or irritation after a few hours, this sunscreen is fine to use. When buying sunblock, try to find formulas that are made specifically for children since they are less likely to cause irritation.
Guidelines for Protecting Baby’s Skin Without Sunblock
Sunblock is not the only way to protect your infant, and you can still have fun in the sun! Ensure that you take all of the necessary steps to protect your child from the harmful effects of the sun:
- Seek shade whenever possible. Always use a stroller with a cover over it, sit under a shady tree, or if you can’t find a source of shade, use an umbrella when in direct sunlight.
- Make sure your baby wears a hat. A baby’s skin is very sensitive, especially on the face. A hat can help keep direct sunlight off of their nose and cheeks.
- Cover arms and legs with breathable but protective fabric. Dress your baby in clothing that is thick enough to effectively block sunlight, but thin enough to allow air flow.
- Hydrate! Formula or breastmilk will provide enough water to ensure your baby is hydrated. Be sure to store the drinks in a cooler for easy access.