The sun is shining, so of course you want to go out and enjoy it with your baby. Read on to find out how to make sure your baby enjoys the sunshine safely.
While your baby’s tiny, it's best to keep her out of direct sunlight completely. Once she's six months or older, and wants to crawl and play outside, head for the shade and protect her delicate skin with a sun hat, loose-fitting clothes and sunscreen. It's recommended that you keep your baby in the shade when the sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm.
How can I keep the sun off my baby's skin?Try to keep your baby in the shade as much as you can, under trees, an umbrella, a canopy, or a sun tent.
If your baby isn't mobile yet, she’ll be happy to lie and kick in the shade. If your baby is crawling or walking, encourage her to sit and play in the shade if it's very hot. It’s particularly important to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest.
Keep her skin covered with clothes made from lightweight, closely woven fabric, such as cotton.
A wide-brimmed, or foreign legion style, hat will shade your baby’s face, ears and neck. Choose a hat with an elasticated or velcro strap that tucks under her chin, which will stop it coming off.
Sunglasses for your baby will protect her sensitive eyes. They don't need to be expensive, but they do need to be good-quality wraparound glasses. When you’re buying sunglasses for your baby, look out for:
- the CE Mark and British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005)
- a UV 400 label, which tells you that the sunglasses offer 100 per cent UV protection
- an adjustable rubber or neoprene strap to help keep them on
When you’re out and about with your baby on a hot day, attach a sun canopy, sun hood, or umbrella to her pram or pushchair. Remember to check regularly to make sure that it’s still shading her from the sun, and adjust it when you need to. If you can’t keep your baby out of the sunlight, the next level of protection is sunscreen.
What sort of sunscreen should I use on my baby?Once your baby is six months old, you can use lotions or sprays that are specially formulated for babies and children. We can’t be completely sure of the safety or effectiveness of using sunscreens on younger babies. That's why it’s recommended that you keep your baby out of the sun completely for her first six months.
When your baby is six months or older, choose a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. Also, check the label says the sunscreen is a broad-spectrum brand with a four-star or five-star rating. This means it offers good UVA and UVB protection.
Apply sunscreen liberally to every part of your baby's skin that isn’t covered by clothes or a hat, including her hands and feet. You'll need a plum-sized dollop of sunscreen, probably far more than you'd expect. It's best to pat it on rather than rub it in.
If you can, put the sunscreen on your baby about 15 minutes before she goes outdoors. You’ll need to reapply it at least every couple of hours and after she has played in water, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
Some brands make tinted sun creams, which makes it easy to see if you have missed a bit of your baby’s skin.
If your baby has eczema or sensitive skin, check the ingredients list for anything you know is likely to irritate her skin or trigger an allergic reaction.
Test any new sunscreen product on a small area of her skin first before you apply it to any exposed areas. If your baby does develop a rash or redness where you’ve tested it, choose a hypoallergenic formula instead. Apply eczema emollients or treatments first, and then put sun cream on half an hour later.
What should I do if my baby gets sunburn?Your baby's skin is very delicate. Despite your best efforts to protect her, unfortunately sunburn can occasionally happen.
You may not realise your baby has sunburn straight away. It could take several hours before the redness and pain of the burn appears.
If your baby’s sunburn looks red and sore:
- Soak a cloth in cool water, wring it out, and then gently place it on the sunburnt area for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Do this several times a day.
- Bath your baby in tepid water to help cool her skin and reduce the redness.
- Gently apply a moisturiser or an emollient to soothe her skin.
- Offer extra breastfeeds or drinks to help cool her down and to replace any fluids that she has lost through sweating.
If your baby's sunburn is severe, and her skin is tender, swollen and blistering, call your GP. She may prescribe a soothing cream and a dressing for the blisters, and suggest you give your baby infant paracetamol to ease her discomfort.