The sun is shining and of course you want to spend more time outside. However when you have a baby in tow there are a few things to remember so your little one is as safe as possible from the harmful rays of sunshine.
- Babies under 6 months should stay out of direct sunshine and even on cloudy days should be kept in the shade. It isn’t recommended for babies under 6 months to wear sunscreen as their skin is so sensitive and suncreams contain strong chemicals, so the priority is to keep them out of the sun. UV shades that go over your buggy are really helpful when you are out and about and seeking shade in the garden or under an umbrella are the best options.
- You can help protect your baby’s skin by dressing them in lightweight long sleeved tops, long trousers and a brimmed hat.
- Sunglasses for babies are actually really important as the melanin is still forming. Lots of places sell sunglasses for babies and ones that have adjustable straps are handy to help keep them on.
- In the car, UVA rays can penetrate the side and back windows so having a UV shield can be useful (often just the front windscreen is made with special glass to block both UVA and UVB rays).
If your baby is exclusively breastfed they will get all the water they need from the breastmilk. You will probably find your baby wants to feed more often when it is hot. If your baby has formula milk you can offer them a small amount of cooled boiled water in a bottle in between feeds, just make sure they are not having less formula than normal in a 24 hour period.
Babies who have started on solids around 6 months can be offered a small amount of tap water in a cup or beaker with their meal and when it’s hot, between meals and milk feeds.
After 6 months it is important to apply suncream if you are out and about. There are so many suncreams on the market it can make choosing one a difficult decision. Working as a nanny and maternity nurse over the years I have been on the search for the best suncreams and I have been overwhelmed by all the articles and information you can find online. Unfortunately suncreams are not great for the environment especially marine life. The chemicals or minerals used are safe for humans but they can only truly protect our skin from damage if we apply them correctly.
The Differences Between Chemical or Mineral Suncream
The active ingredients in mineral-based suncream are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Whereas the active ingredients in chemical-based suncream are oxybenzone, ooctinoxate, avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate or octocrylene.
Mineral suncream sits on top of your skin and reflects the UV radiation. It is usually quite think and you can still see it when it is applied. Manufactures have managed to find a way to make the particles much smaller which leaves less of a visible white cover on your skin, however these smaller particles (nanoparticles) can be very toxic to marine life.
Chemical suncreams bond to your upper layers of skin and they absorb the UV radiation and disperse it as heat. These are thinner and don’t tend to leave any white on your skin. However some chemical suncreams with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate are again toxic to marine ecosystems.
Whichever suncream you do end up choosing make sure it is a broad spectrum sun cream of at least factor 30. Broad spectrum means it offers protection from both types of UV sunlight, UVA and UVB.
UV protective swimwear is great to add extra protection when in and around the pool. However you should still apply suncream and reapply after swimming or excessive sweating.
How to apply suncream
Always follow the instructions on the bottle you have. Apply a generous amount, if suncream is applied too thinly, the amount of protection is reduced. You should apply suncream about 30 minutes before you plan to go out and apply once again when you go out. You should reapply suncream at least every two hours. Make sure the suncream is not past its expiry date.
Finding the right suncream for your baby is tricky business so I thought I would include a few of my favourites that I have used on babies over the years.
Sun Safe Products
Buggy UV Covers
Car window shades