Sun safety for babies
As the weather gets warmer, you’ll probably want to get out of the house more but it’s important to know how to keep your baby safe in the sun.
Infants and young children are at risk of illness when the weather is very hot and sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be particularly dangerous for babies. Here are our top tips for protecting your little one from the sun and keeping them cool in the summer.
Ideally babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight
NHS advises that babies who are less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight completely. Caution is also given against using sun creams before this age as they are not designed for use on babies this young so keeping them in total shade is the safest option. Using a parasol or sun shade on your baby’s pram and pushchair can help as can avoiding taking them out in the hottest part of the day, which is between 11am and 3pm. You can also get pop-up sun tents which you can take with you so you’ll have somewhere shady to put your little one when you are spending time outside.
Should you use suncream?
It is really difficult to find clear official advice regarding the use of suncream on babies under 6 months of age. The most common advice being that creams should not be used. However, I have seen many upsetting images of babies that have been badly burned by following this advice. Seeing your baby sunburned is distressing for everyone one involved and keeping them out of direct sunlight 100% of the time is not always possible. The American Academy of Dermatology states: “if shade and adequate clothing are not available, parents may apply a menial amount of broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to their child’s skin.”
My PERSONAL OPNION: Having experienced sunburn myself and the pain it brings, but also having enjoyed time oh holidays splashing in the pool I would use suncream. I have had a little look around and found that these three seem to be very popular and meet the recommended ingredients list La Roche-Posay, Babo Botanicals and Childs Farm. All of these suggestions are dermatologist approved.
Make sure you have a hat handy
Covering your baby’s head is important to protect it from the sun. Make sure your little one wears a sunhat while you are outside in warmer weather. Choosing a hat with a brim or a flap at the back to protect their neck will help keep your baby safe. If you find it hard to keep a hat on your little one’s head, you can also get one with chin straps. You should also be persistent – if it falls off or your baby pulls it off, keep putting it back on until they get used to wearing it.
Fluids are important
In hot weather, it is vital that your baby gets plenty of fluids. Dehydration can be dangerous for babies and toddlers so make sure they are having plenty to drink. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, feed them more often than usual. You don’t need to offer water as your breastmilk will adapt to the weather and will be able to keep them fully hydrated but make sure you don’t restrict how often they feed.
If you are bottle-feeding using formula, you can offer cool boiled water in addition to their usual feeds.
If your baby is more than six months old and has started eating solids, offer them a cup with water during meals and throughout the day when the weather is hot.
Keep their skin covered
Don’t leave too much of your baby’s skin uncovered in the summer. Clothing can offer important protection from the sun and you can even buy outfits made from UV protective materials. Choose cool, breathable fabrics if you can to help them stay cool.
Use water to cool them down
Water can be very effective at cooling small children down but make sure they are always closely supervised. During the day, you may want to use a paddling pool in the garden but keep it in the shade to protect your baby or toddler from the sun. At bedtime, give them a cool bath to help them go to sleep.
Use a thermometer
A room thermometer can help you regulate the temperature indoors, especially in your baby’s nursery. Keep the curtains or blinds shut during the day to prevent the sun heating the room up and use a fan to circulate air around the space. Try to avoid the temperature getting above 20C in the room where your baby will sleep. Reduce how much bedding you use in hot weather – they don’t always need to be snuggled up in a Babygro and sleeping bag – putting them down in just a vest and nappy is fine when the weather is hot.
Baby sunglasses can help protect your little one’s eyes, which are much more sensitive than yours. You don’t need to spend a fortune on designer brands but choose a wraparound style designed for babies. Some will have adjustable straps to keep them secure and you should look out for a UV 400 label which shows it offers full protection and filters out up to 99 per cent of both UVA and UVB rays.