Looking after your baby in the sun

Posted on 24/11/14 11:15 AM

If like me you grew up with Bony M’s “Brown girl in the ring” and brown Coppertone sunscreen bottles you somehow felt come summertime it was just better to be brown.  Research now however overwhelmingly refutes this rationale and is slowly changing the tide on this way of thinking. 

Because babies lack the tanning pigments known as melanin to protect their skin from the sun the best protection especially for babies 6 months and younger is to keep them out of the sun.
The key time for this is between the hours of 11am and 4 pm when ultraviolet rays are at their most intense.
If there is no natural shade, create your own with something like an umbrella, a towel or the canopy of a stroller. 
Dress your baby in long sleeves and pants and a hat that shades the neck and whole face to prevent sunburn.   Tight, dark weaves are better than loose however you need to remember that younger infants don’t sweat like we do so ensure your baby does not get overheated.
If none of this is possible and you do need to apply a sunscreen it is fine to apply a small amount of sunscreen on their face and hands.

General Sun Protection

Use an organic, broad spectrum, non-nano particle, physical sunscreen made with zinc oxide with an SPF of between 15 and 35.

Avoid chemical sunscreens which often have potentially harmful components like Parabens, Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate, and Avobenzone listed among their ingredients.  When there is increasing accessibility to completely natural, organic, broad spectrum sunscreens like those at Thinkwise there really is no need to consider sunscreen products with questionable ingredients. 

Unlike chemical sunscreens that the skin absorbs and which may cause irritation or allergic reactions a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide sits on top of the skin forming a physical barrier against the sun’s rays and begins working almost immediately.  This difference between a physical and chemical sunscreen is important for babies whose skin is less mature and who have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults.  These two factors mean that an infant’s exposure to chemicals in sunscreen may be greater increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen. Avoid sunscreen sprays or powders as there is the risk of inhaling the product and sprays do not encourage the use of appropriate amounts of sunscreen.

Badger sunscreen

As always with any new product being used on your baby remember to patch test before using more widely on their skin.

Remember sunscreen is only one tool in your sun safe tool kit.  Use it with knowledge i.e apply at least 15 minutes before going outside, any time after being in the water or if sweating excessively otherwise reapply at least 2 hourly while in the sun and apply liberally unless using on a baby.

What about Vitamin D?

Too little sun may contribute to a Vitamin D deficiency which is critical for growing and maintaining strong healthy bones and supporting a strong immune system.  Between September and April it is prudent for everyone to be outside for short periods of time in the early morning or late afternoon with some skin exposed.  This needs to occur without sunblock as sunblock prevents your body manufacturing vitamin D.  This will ensure you receive enough ultraviolet radiation exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.  Between May and August some sun on your skin outdoors is important so your body can continue to make vitamin D.  A daily walk or other outdoor physical activity in the hours around noon without sunblock and with face, arms and hands in the sun is recommended.

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Posted by ThinkWise Team

Categories Ingredients    Expecting Mamas    Healthy Homes    Newborns    Skin Care