Getting your baby out for fresh air and sun is important for future development and for overall health. It is also a fun family time to be outside with the baby, enjoying the beach or having a walk in the park. However, all parents must be aware of baby sun protection methods. Getting too much sun can be dangerous for a small baby. Also, using certain creams or sun lotions on an infant may not be advisable.
The risks of too much baby sun exposure
A baby’s skin is much thinner and less adapted to the sun rays than ours. Thus, it can easily burn if exposed to the sun for too long. Also, babies have a harder time regulating their body temperature than adults. This means that being in the sun could lead to overheating in infants, especially for babies under six months.
What is too much sun exposure for a baby? Generally, it depends on sun intensity and outside temperature. It is best to avoid keeping the baby in the sun during peak hours. These are around 11 a.m to 3 or 4 p.m, depending on location. In hotter climates such as Singapore, avoid keeping the baby in direct sunlight during these hours. However, going out for short walks if the baby is fully dressed is perfectly fine.
Being exposed to the sun can lead to sunburn in babies and damage their skin in the long run. A sunburn in infants usually requires medical attention.
A more dangerous risk in babies is heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This is a dangerous condition for both babies and adults. It means that the body is unable to regulate its temperature, and babies are much more prone to develop this dangerous condition. Babies are also more prone to dehydrate because they sweat less than an adult.
Baby sun exposure safety tips
- Don’t keep the baby in the sun for too long, especially at the beach. One or two hours of beach time outside of sun peak hours is more than enough. Also, avoid the beach if there is a heat wave.
- Mayo Clinic advises not to use sunscreen on babies less than six months old. Many sunscreens contain irritant substances that can also enter the baby’s blood stream. If you still want to use some baby sun protection, go for an organic product that is recommended for infants. Also, apply the sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before sun exposure.
- Always have the baby wear a hat when outside. Protecting the head is most important, as is dressing the baby accordingly. Don’t dress the baby with clothes that are too warm as it can lead to overheating. Have the baby wear something light that covers the whole body when it is hot outside.
Sings of overheating in an infant include: excessive thirst, cold clammy skin, tiredness and weakness. If the condition becomes more serious the baby could develop a high fever, have rapid pulse, confusion, shallow breath, restlessness and even unconsciousness. Getting urgent medical help right away is recommended if you observe any of these signs.
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