sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
0-6 months: Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. An infant's skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair and eyes and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun's damaging effects.
- Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct sunlight from coming in through the windows of your car or invest in UV window film, which can screen almost 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation without reducing visibility.
- Take walks early in the morning before 10 AM or after 4 PM and use a stroller with a sun-protective cover.
- Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
- Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects the baby's face, neck, and ears.
- 6-12 months: It's now safe to use sunscreen on babies. All the protection methods explained above still apply, however now sunscreen use should be incorporated.
- Apply a broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered such as baby's hands. Most importantly, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Protecting toddlers from the sun requires a little more thought and effort. It is important to educate your child and caregivers.
- Make sure your child seeks the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. Check the outdoor area where your child plays to make sure there is adequate shade.
- Make sure toddlers are covered. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing is cool and comfortable, while also highly protective. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) listing on the label offers extra security. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends clothing with a UPF of 30 or higher.
- Don't forget hats and sunglasses. Choose a wide-brimmed hat that protects face, neck, and ears.
- Water-resistant, spray-on sunscreens are a good choice for toddlers who won't sit still. Look for sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher with some combination of the following UVA ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Trish Marraty is a mommy
writer for The Mommies Network and
Director-Promotions & Marketing
Next week we'll discuss how to treat the accidental sunburn.