Summer can be a great time to get outdoors with your new baby. Just make sure you use proper sun protection for your little one.
Exposure to direct sunlight helps the body produce Vitamin D, so it is a good idea for your baby to get a few minutes of sun each day (especially for breastfed babies who need Vitamin D.)
If you are outdoors for longer than a few minutes, make sure you have appropriate skin protection. Sunburns can occur quickly and cause pain, fever, dehydration and heat stroke.
It has long been believed that babies under 6 months of age should not wear sunscreen. Because their skin is less mature and has a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio, the exposure to chemicals in sunscreen may be greater.
Use these tips instead:
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Early morning or early evening are ideal times to catch less harmful rays.
- Choose protective clothing. Opt for lightweight, loose fitting and light-colored clothing that covers your baby’s arms and legs. Long pants and sleeves may not seem ideal in the heat, but coverage is most important. Find fabrics that are light but not loosely woven.
- Hats are a must. Pick a hat with a brim that will cover the neck, ears and provide shade for the face.
- Seek out shade. Use your stroller’s shade, carry an umbrella or find a tree to sit under. You can purchase small pop-up shades to fit over your stroller if yours doesn’t provide great coverage.
- Drink up. Mom needs to stay hydrated and so does baby. Nurse or bottle feed on demand when out in the sun. Infants do NOT need water to drink. Breastmilk or formula will do the trick.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using these methods first. If those aren’t available, a minimal amount of sunscreen is fine to prevent sunburns as a last resort.