Important Sun Protection Tips for Kids and Babies

treating sunburn in babies toddlers

When it comes to our little ones, we try to do our best to keep them safe from everything. However, somethings are unavoidable, take the sun for example! It can be nerve wracking to think about taking your baby outside for the first time. Or, even the real possibility of your toddler getting sunburnt playing outside for long period of time. Take a deep breath and read on for tips that will help protect your little ones from the sun's harmful rays.

When is the Earliest My Baby Can Wear Sunscreen?

Babies have sensitive skin, especially newborns. Due to this, infants are at a higher risk of having bad skin reactions to products that are usually safe for adults. Sunscreen is just one of the many products this applies to. The Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that infants avoid coming into direct sunlight for at least the first six months of their life.  Keep your babies in naturally shaded areas if outside. Sunscreen is not recommended during this time and for any children under a year old, a sunburn usually means a call to the doctor. The best prevention is doing your best to make sure they stay out of the direct sun.

Suncare Safety For Toddlers

For children a year or older, it is recommended that a child-appropriate sunscreen (one that caters to their sensitive skin) that has a SPF between 30 and 50 is used. Mineral sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are extremely effective because they sit on the skin and deflect the sun's rays. Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going outside, and reapplied every two hours thereafter. It is important to let children in the sun only for age-appropriate amounts of time.

The AAP does not recommend any sunscreens with the ingredient oxybenzone. This chemical can have hormonal properties that are more likely to affect children's sensitive skin. Oxybenzone has also been shown to be what is known to researchers as "a skeletal endocrine disruptor" in coral reefs because it causes destruction as it permeates the ocean.

Healing a Sunburn

Life happens, and a sunburn is not the end of the world especially if it is taken care of and monitored properly. Assess your child and the severity of their sunburn - are they simply uncomfortable, pink and itchy? Are they blistering, experiencing confusion, sickness, or fever? If they are feeling any of the latter symptoms, a sunburn can warrant a call to the doctor. Sunburn can be accompanied by an underlying condition such as dehydration, heat stroke, or sun poisoning and requires medical care. If they are blistering, do not pop them intentionally as it raises the risk of developing a skin infection.

To safely treat a sunburn at home, you can begin by giving your child a cool bath or applying cool compresses. Avoid using ice and harsh soaps with fragrances because they can often irritate young children's skin. Some safe products to use are hypoallergenic, alcohol-free moisturizers such as baby-safe aloe vera gel. They will also appreciate soft, breathable clothing that will keep them comfortable.

Babies and toddlers who are feeling the effects of a sunburn might experience pain, itchiness, tenderness, and fatigue. Expect your little one to feel under the weather as their sunburn heals and comfort them during the process. The most important part of this process is keeping them hydrated and out of the sun to prevent any further skin damage.


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