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Babies have delicate, sensitive skin that’s easily damaged by sun - even on cloudy or overcast days. Here’s some advice to help keep your baby safe from sunburns and eye damage, and reduce the risk of skin cancer:
Keep your baby out of the sun and heat
- Babies younger than 12 months of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Seek or create shade for your baby.
- Try to keep your baby out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
- Never leave your baby alone in a car.
- Do not let your baby get overheated.
- Make sure your baby has plenty of breast milk to drink in hot weather. Offer a drink every hour or so.
Dress for protection
- Dress your baby in loose clothes that have a tight weave.
- Use a large brimmed hat with a neck cover and no ties.
- Because sunscreen can be irritating if it gets in your baby's eyes, use it only on small areas. Protect most of the skin with clothing, hats and shade. You can use water resistant sunscreens rated SPF 30 or higher and approved by the Canadian Dermatology Association. (Look for their logo or name on the label.)
- Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before exposure to the sun so it is absorbed by the skin and less likely to rub or wash off. Apply the sunscreen according to instructions and reapply every couple of hours. Swimmers and those who sweat heavily should use a waterproof lotion.
- Do not wait for signs of burning to get your baby out of the sun. Sunburns do not usually show up for six to 24 hours.
Put sunglasses on your baby
There are many different styles and colours of baby sunglasses. They can help protect your baby's eyes from harmful UV rays (and look darned cute in the process!). Standards for sunglasses have improved, and most brands are effective at screening or reflecting ultraviolet rays. Look for sunglasses that provide 99 to 100 per cent UVA and UVB protection. When buying sunglasses, see how well they cover the eyes. Large lenses, glasses that fit well, and a wrap-around design all help protect against damaging UV rays.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Sun Safety for Children
HealthLink BC: Protecting Your Skin From the Sun
HealthLink BC: Health and Safety, Birth to 2 Years