The Central Valley’s hot sunny summers are in full force, but that bright sunlight can put young children’s delicate skin at risk. Before you take your child out for a day in the sun, learn the smart steps you need to take to protect their skin.
Infants 0-6 months: Infants should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen, does not yet have enough melanin to provide sun protection, and is extremely susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects. Long sleeves, pants and a bonnet or hat are a must.
Babies 6-12 months: Sunscreen can now be used. Apply broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered such as hands; choose a tear-free formula that won’t sting their eyes. Apply 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
Toddlers/Pre-School Age: Protecting toddlers from the sun can be more challenging. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher. Water-resistant, spray-on sunscreens are a good choice for toddlers who won’t sit still, but do not spray directly to the face. Instead, mist the spray into your hands, and then spread on the face.
- The sun’s rays are at their most intense between 10AM and 4PM, and it’s preferable to keep young children in the shade. Check the outdoor area where your child plays to make sure there is adequate shade.
- Dress children in lightweight clothing that covers more of their skin to reduce sun exposure. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing is cool and comfortable, and 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.
- A child’s neck and ears are often forgotten when it comes to sun exposure. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to these delicate areas. Hats with wide brims also help shield these areas from the sun’s rays.
Don’t forget sunglasses! UV exposure is harmful to eyes of all ages, and eyes can actually be sunburned. Eyes can become swollen, blood-shot and light sensitive, and can lead to future eye problems as well. People with blue eyes are even more at risk for UV damage than those with brown eyes.
It’s not necessary to buy expensive sunglasses. Choose a pair that offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Both types of rays can damage vision. Look for a label that also says the sunglasses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards.
Make sure the glasses fit comfortably and your child understands why it’s important to wear them. And knowing kids, buy a couple of extras, so you have a spare pair when they got lost or forgotten somewhere.
Adapted from information from The Skin Cancer Foundation and WebMD.
About the author: Brenda Cabrera is the Founder and Director of the multi-award-winning Kidz Childcare & Preschool. She is passionate about fostering a positive, safe and fun environment for children that promotes learning and social skills. Learn more at www.Kidz-Care.com.