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Infant Sun Safety

Summer is a great time for the whole family to be outdoors, including the family’s youngest members! However, the entire family needs protection from harmful UV rays that can damage the skin and eyes, especially vulnerable infants. Babies have thinner skin, and their skin contains less melanin, a chemical in the skin that offers some protection against sunburn.

In addition to painful sunburns, too much exposure to UV radiation is the primary cause of skin cancer. Just one blistering sunburn before age 18 increases the risk of developing melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Skin cancer is on the rise in teens and young adults, and melanoma is a leading form of cancer in young people.

Protecting infants and young children from too much damaging sun exposure now teaches them the lifetime habit of sun safety and helps protect them for a healthier future. Read on to learn important sun safety tips to help protect babies from powerful UV rays.

Sun Safety Tips to Protect Babies

  • Keep babies under the age of 6 months out of direct sunlight. Protect babies by keeping them shaded under a tree, an umbrella, a pop-up tent, or a stroller canopy.

  • Dress babies in tightly-woven, lightweight clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and cotton pants. You can also look for infant clothes labeled with an SPF (sun protection factor).

  • Keep babies’ heads covered with hats that have wide brims wrapping all the way around (not baseball caps) that shield their faces, ears, and necks.

  • Protect babies’ eyes with infant sunglasses that have at least 99 percent UV protection.

  • Avoid outdoor activities when the sun rays are at their strongest—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Talk to your baby’s healthcare professional before using any sunscreen on your baby. Infants are more likely than adults to have side effects from sunscreen use, such as rash. In general: For babies younger than 6 months, a small amount of sunscreen can be used on areas not covered by protective clothing, such as the face. Sunscreen can be used on the body for older infants. Use a damp cloth to wipe your baby’s eyes and hands if your baby wipes sunscreen in his eyes. Sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15. Many brands offer sunscreen specifically for babies that are less likely to cause skin irritation.

  • Ensure your baby stays hydrated. For example, you may need to breastfeed more often while outside.

  • Be on alert for signs of sunburn or dehydration (such as redness or fussiness). For infants under 1 year of age, call your baby’s healthcare professional immediately if your baby becomes sunburned. For older children, contact your child’s healthcare professional if sunburn causes fever, pain, or blistering.

  • Consider getting a UV shield for car windows. Car side and rear windows may not filter out UVA rays as car windshields are required to do. A UV shield can help prevent UVA rays from reaching a child’s car seat.

Discover Other Infant Safety Topics and Educational Materials

Childbirth Graphics provides safety education materials for new parents that cover multiple essential issues, such as sleep safety, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) prevention, infant car safety, prevention of shaken baby syndrome, and the importance of safety inside and outside the home. Check out our safety education materials in our safety section.

The information contained in this article is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

©2022 Childbirth Graphics®