Babies are particularly vulnerable to exposure to these chemicals as their skin is more sensitive than older children and adults. It is therefore more important than ever to use chemical free sunscreen for babies as they are at a higher health risk from sunscreens that contain synthetic chemicals.
A baby’s skin is very delicate and is more susceptible to damage from the sun, in fact many experts have recommended in the past that babies under six months old should not be exposed to direct sunlight at all. However, it is almost impossible to expect mum to keep baby out of the sun entirely and as such, a chemical free sunscreen is the safest alternative when out and about. It is also important to dress babies in light, sun protective clothing and keep them in the shade as much as possible.
It can be difficult for parents when the family is out enjoying the sun to be vigilant as far as sun protection is concerned, but with a little preparation, awareness, and the correct sunscreen, a day at the beach can still be fun … and safe.
Avoid direct exposure to the sun for babies under six months old
Keep babies and young children in the shade as much as possible
Use chemical free sunscreen
Wear sun protection clothing and sun hats
Avoid direct exposure when the sun is at its hottest (usually between 10am and 4pm)
Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours or more if it has been washed or wiped off.
Be aware that during sun exposure, skin can appear undamaged for quite some time
Babies above six months old tend to be a little bit more mobile and aren’t as easy to keep undercover as it where. At this age it pays to be more vigilant as covers and clothing can be discarded by older babies. You need to make sure that all areas are covered when applying sunscreen, that sun protection clothing, sun hats, and sunglasses are available (and kept on if possible), and there is plenty of shade available for playtime.
As children get older there will be times when they are playing outdoors and need to be aware that sunscreen need to be applied before going out. It is up to parents to properly educate their children about the importance of protecting their skin from the suns harmful rays to avoid future skin problems, in particular malignant melanoma (the most serious and potentially deadly type of skin cancer) which can take years to materialize.
Act responsibly and be aware that in extreme cases parents can be charged with criminal negligence or even have their child taken into care for not protecting their child from the sun.
Whether the Weather is Hot!
A cloudy and overcast day doesn’t mean that you can be relaxed about the dangers of exposure to the sun as the UV rays can pass through clouds. Also be aware that UV rays pass through glass making sun protection procedures relevant on long car or bus journeys.
Which Sunscreen for Babies and Young Children?
The type of sunscreen for babies and young children is important in several ways. Babies are at a high risk from synthetic chemicals penetrating their delicate skin, as are young children who are also outdoors on a regular basis and are subject to high exposure to UV rays.
Choosing a sunscreen for babies and young children is pretty much the same as you would for yourself, although some sunscreens are recommended specifically for babies/children.
Choose a natural, chemical free sunscreen
None of the harmful chemical sunscreen ingredients (particularly oxybenzone)
The barrier type (zinc oxide)
Broad spectrum (protection against both UVB and UVA rays)
An SPF of 15 – 30+
Creams or sticks, not sprays or powders
Any additional ingredients should be 100% natural
Zinc Oxide Sun Protection
Zinc oxide is a natural mineral sunscreen that forms a barrier on the surface of the skin to reflect UV rays away from the skin, as opposed to the synthetic chemical sunscreens that absorb and disperse them within the skin. As a barrier type sunscreen (zinc oxide) forms a protective layer on the surface of the skin, there isn’t the need to wait for the recommended 30 mins absorption that is necessary with the synthetic chemical based sunscreen.
Zinc oxide sunscreens are widely regarded as the best protection against the suns harmful UV rays.
Some mineral sunscreens include nano-technology, using microscopic particles, of which there is concern that they may be tiny enough to be absorbed into the skin posing potential risks to health. As this isn’t concrete information as yet, many people would prefer to use products that are non-nano, which is usually clearly labelled.
When applying any new product to your baby’s skin it is best to first test it on a small area to see if there is any allergic reaction. Of course the more natural the product the less chance of any reaction occurring. If there isn’t a reaction within 24 hours it should be safe to continue using the product.
Make sure that all areas of the baby/child that are likely to be exposed are covered, paying particular attention to prominent areas such as forehead, nose, cheekbones, ears, shoulders, and the back of the neck. Apply a good coating to all areas, avoiding eyes, and re-apply at least every two hours.
Despite being ultra careful in protecting your little one from the sun, unfortunately sunburn can occur, and as their skin is more sensitive it can be a painful experience for a baby or young child. The sunburn may not be noticeable for some time, it may not be until baby is indoors that redness and soreness become apparent. Babies don’t sweat as much as adults and retain heat, which can make dehydration a potential problem.
If Sunburn Occurs
Keep the child out of sunlight in a cool shaded area
Apply a cold compress to the area
Apply aftersun lotion to mild sunburn
Suitable pain relief for their age if necessary
A cool bath to reduce temperature
Give plenty of drinks to keep hydrated
Dress in loose fitting cotton clothing
DON’T keep them cool with an electric fan
If at all concerned, particularly if the child is under 12 months old ring the doctor for advice. If the sunburn is severe, blistering occurs, or fever, ring the doctor who may prescribe a special burn cream and/or apply a dressing to the the burn.
Be sure to choose a natural, chemical free sunscreen for babies and young children!