The Magic Question
When an adult goes outdoors to spend time in the sun at the park, pool, shoreline, or wherever, he or she is generally aware that it’s beneficial to wear and re-apply sunscreen throughout the day. But what if you’re bringing an Infant along with you; is that what’s best for them, too?
For that answer we turned to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (that you can easily read in full by clicking here) to address the question.
According to the FDA piece, the best thing for an infant up to half a year old isn’t to apply sunscreen when you bring them outside; it’s actually not to bring them outside at all. Especially during the all-important peak hours of 10a.m. and 2p.m. It’s between those hours that the impact of the sun’s harmful UV rays are most intense.*
The reasons they give are simple, and make sense. An adult’s skin is much more developed than that of an infant, which renders the latter more susceptible to sun skin damage. And also for that same reason, the ingredients in some sunscreens may negatively impact an infant.
Now, the FDA’s sun safety recommendations for infants are understandably more comprehensive than they are for adults. Here are those suggestions directly quoted from the same article:*
- “Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.”
- “Consult your pediatrician before using any sunscreen on your baby. If you do use a small amount of sunscreen on your baby, don’t assume the child is well protected.”
- “Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense; if you hold the fabric against your hand and it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.”
- “Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shade at all times.”
- “Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.”
- “Hydrate! Give your baby formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.”
- “Take note of how much your baby is urinating. If it’s less than usual, it may be a sign of dehydration, and that more fluids are needed until the flow is back to normal.”
- “Avoid combination sunscreens containing insect repellants like DEET. Young children may lick their hands or put them in their mouths. According to the AAP, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.”
- “If you do notice your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas.”
In the meantime, if you’re looking to plan Baby’s First Picnic or something similar, why not simply wait to bring him, her or them outside? The park will still be there in six months.
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