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How can I protect my baby's skin from the sun?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Babies' skin is much more vulnerable to the sun's rays than that of adults, or even that of older children. Your baby's skin will not show the effects of sun exposure right away, and their fragile skin can be damaged by the sun in as little as 15 minutes. It's a good idea to keep your baby away from direct sun exposure altogether. Keep your baby in the shade, and cover your baby's skin with clothing whenever possible. If your baby must be in the direct sunlight, check the labels on sunscreen before applying to the areas of your baby's skin that are exposed.

Catherine Balestra, MD
Dermatology

Your baby’s skin continues to develop and mature after birth and requires special care to protect it from the sun.  Here are some recommendations to keep your child’s skin protected.

• Sun avoidance by seeking shade is the surest way to decrease sun exposure.   Planning outdoor activities in the early morning, late afternoon, or evening prevents sun exposure during midday,  when the sun’s harmful rays are the strongest. 

• Sun protective clothing made of special UV (ultraviolet) blocking fabrics with long sleeves and pants keep your baby safely covered.  Hats with a 3-4 inch brim better protect baby’s face than caps or visors. 

•  And finally, sunscreen with a “Sun Protection Factor” (SPF) of 30 or higher can be used.  Importantly, children under 6 months of age may only use sunblocks with “physical blockers” that contain only either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient(s).  Once your child is over 6 months old, he or she can continue to use these physical blockers, or you can choose to apply a “chemical sunscreen.”  Chemical sunscreens include all other active ingredients listed in sunscreens.  Examples of chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, salicylates, ecamsule, homosalate, etc.   

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.