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Publication #FAR0428

Protecting Babies from the Sun1

Suzanna Smith2

Figure 1. 
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My children were all born during the summer months, and as we gradually spent more and more time outside, I wondered how best to protect them from the hot summer sun. Like all babies, their skin was sensitive and could have easily been damaged and burned. Even a few minutes in the bright sunshine can burn unprotected skin (Centers for Disease Control, 2000), and sunburn can be especially painful and serious for babies (Health Canada, n.d.).

If you have a new baby, you don't need to stay home to keep her or him safe from the sun. Being outdoors offers fresh air and exercise for your baby's overall health. But your baby can't tell you the sun is too hot or too bright, and can't move out of the sunlight. So you will need to make sure your baby is out of the sunshine and is covered in other ways.

Health experts recommend that parents take the following steps to prevent sunburn and skin damage, as well as dehydration:

  • Avoid exposing babies under one year old to the sun. Keep them in the shade, "under a tree, an umbrella, or a stroller canopy" (Health Canada, n.d.).

  • Dress infants in clothing that covers them, such as lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006).

  • "When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply" a little "suncreen to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands" (AAP, 2006). Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and UVA/UVB protection.

As tempting as it may be to enjoy that sunshine with your baby, experts still recommend it's best to avoid the sun altogether or find a cool spot in the shade (Centers for Disease Control, 2000).

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at http://www.familyalbumradio.org.

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References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2006). Summer safety tips, Part I. Retrieved May 30, 2006, from http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/summertips.htm.

Centers for Disease Control. (2000). Play it safe in the sun. Retrieved June 2000, from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/pdf/CYCParentsBrochure.pdf.

Health Canada (n.d.). A parent's guide to sun protection. Retrieved May 30, 2006, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/securit/sports/sun-sol/protecting-proteger_e.html.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FAR0428, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 445. Published March 2009. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.