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Infant Fun in the Sun!

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Summer is well upon us!  The sun is finally out more often than that clouds.  Goodbye “June Gloom”!  Beautiful San Diego weather means more time soaking up the sun.  Covid-19 is helping us get outdoors more often too since a lot of indoor activities remain limited.

Spending more time in the sun makes now a great time to talk about how to keep your infant safe from the sun’s harmful rays.  Did you know that most sun damage occurs during childhood?  That makes it extra important to do what you can to protect your baby’s delicate skin.

Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight whenever possible.  Shady areas are best for baby.  If shade isn’t available, there’s lot of cute, but lightweight clothing you can find to keep baby’s arms and legs covered.  Lightweight is the key to making sure baby doesn’t overheat.  A wide brimmed hat is ideal to keep baby’s head, ears, and neck protected.

Important to note is that many pediatricians will recommend against using sunscreen on your infant.  Ideally, they want you to keep baby in the shade or covered.  However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen may be used in certain situations.  In cases when shade and clothing to keep baby covered are not available, it is acceptable to use a small amount of sunscreen.  Be sure to discuss with your baby’s provider if you have questions about the use of sunscreen on your infant.

When using sunscreen on your infant, apply a small amount to your infant’s exposed skin.  It can take up to 30 minutes to be effective so apply early and reapply at least every two hours or after being in water.  It is also recommended to use a sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as this may be less irritating to the baby’s skin.

Last thing to remember is on hot, sunny days, be sure to watch your infant for signs of dehydration.  This could look like redness on the baby’s skin, excessively crying, or increased fussiness.  And don’t forget, breastfed babies don’t need water, they only need breastmilk.  Giving water could fill baby up and discourage them from demonstrating hunger cues when they need calories.

Enjoy a safe and sunny summer!

 

Sources: AAP. 2019. “Sun Safety and Protection Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics”. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Sun-Safety-and-Protection.aspx
AAD. 2017. “Infant Sun Protection: How parents keep their baby safe”. https://www.aad.org/news/sun-protection-for-kids

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Jennifer Gathman, RN, IBCLC

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