Sun Protection for Babies

A baby wearing a thick brimmed hat to protect her head, neck and face from direct sunlight.

The Canadian Dermatology Association reminds us that babies are not born with a developed skin protection system, having sensitive skin that is thinner than adult skin and can burn more easily. Even children born to parents with deeply pigmented (dark) skin require maximum protection from the sun.

A baby can't tell you that they are too hot or that it is too sunny for them. Sunburns on babies not only hurt and cause skin damage, but they can also cause dehydration and fever. This is why sun protection is needed from late spring to the end of fall, whenever the UV index is 3 or greater.

Sun safety recommendations for babies:

  • As babies skin and bodies are much more sensitive than adults, keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Long walks are best in the early morning or late afternoon. If possible, limit being outside for long periods with an infant between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., especially around noon.
  • Babies should wear sun hats with a wide brim. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that covers their legs and arms.
  • Contact your pediatrician at once when a baby under the age of one year gets a sunburn. A severe sunburn is an emergency in children this young.
  • Do not put sunscreen on babies less than 6 months of age. Keep them out of the sun and heat.
  • For babies older than six months of age: A small amount of sunscreen (for babies) may be applied to areas of the skin that are not covered by clothing such as the face and the backs of the hands. Avoid the mouth and eye area when applying. If a baby does rub sunscreen in his or her eye, no need to panic: sunscreen does not cause blindness, although it may sting. Look for a sunscreen product for babies with an SPF of 30 that also provides broad spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB). Always try a small amount of sunscreen on the infant's inner arm before general use. Check for a reaction up to 48 hours later.
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