Top tips for protecting your baby in the sun
We love sunshine! Topping up on your Vitamin D levels is important for health but it is also important to keep your little ones safe. There are far safer ways for you and your baby to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.
Remember that if your baby is less than six months old, their skin is thin and delicate. It doesn’t yet contain much melanin – this is the pigment that gives hair, eyes and skin their colour and provides a little protection from the sun.
What should your baby wear?
It may be tempting to strip your baby down to just a nappy when it’s hot. This is fine in the shade but if you’re in the sunlight it’s best to cover up. Breathable light coloured fabrics like organic bamboo and cotton are best. You could also use a bamboo muslin as coverage. And don’t forget a wide-brimmed sun hat.
Should you use sunscreen on your baby?
A 2014 review* of over 2000 sunscreens from over 257 brands found that more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals.
We like a natural approach and don’t like putting toxins on either our own or our babies’ skin. We would certainly not put sunscreen on a baby younger than 6 months of age.
If you are buying sunscreen always check the label carefully. Try to find products containing natural, organic and plant-based ingredients from ethical companies. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 is the minimum recommended by the NHS in the UK for babies, although most people would opt for a much higher SPF than that. Also check that the label states it protects from both UVA and UVB rays.
Mineral based sunscreens containing Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are a more natural form of sunblock. These are eco-friendly and break down in nature more easily.
Feel free to read our previous article on choosing a sunscreen for your baby.
Keep your baby hydrated
If your baby is breastfed, then offer them milk frequently. You don’t usually need to supplement with water but you may have to feed them more often than usual. If your baby is bottle feeding you may choose to offer cooled boiled water as well as milk to make sure they stay hydrated.
Stay in the shade
The sun is hottest between 11am and 3pm so try to keep your baby in the shade as much as possible in the middle of the day. If your baby is sleeping in their pram outside, you can create extra shade by putting a light muslin cloth over the hood. Just remember to keep a close eye on them so they don’t get tangled up in the cloth. Also paediatricians often recommend car sunshades to protect children and babies against harmful UV rays.
Keep cool at night
Closing the blinds or curtains during the day can help keep the temperature down in your baby’s bedroom. You could also use an electric fan to circulate the air. Try giving your baby a cool bath before bedtime and reduce the amount of clothes they wear in bed. Again, breathable bamboo clothing is a good option.
What do you do to help keep your little ones cool, happy and safe in the sun?
* Environmental Working Group 2014 “Our review…shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients.” A study published in Environmental Science Technology has shown the common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer. Sunscreens have not been regulated since 1978 in the USA, and the SPF factor only tells you how effective a sunscreen is against UVB rays which cause sunburn.