Sun protection for babies under 6 months
With sunny days finally upon us, it’s time to get out and lap up that much needed vitamin D. However, we all know we should be protecting ourselves from the sun, but if you’ve recently had a baby, knowing the best way to protect their skin from harmful UV rays can be a bit of a minefield. Sun cream generally isn’t recommended for use on babies under 6 months, so we’ve got first aid expert Emma Hammett, founder of First Aid for Life to round up everything you need to know about keeping their delicate skin as safe from the sun as possible.
Is it safe for my baby to go out in the sun?Babies’ skin is much thinner (15 times!) than an adult’s, so UV rays can cause sun damage in a very short space of time. Babies are also more susceptible to heat, thus increasing temperatures can make them seriously unwell and has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Whilst babies are under six months old, they are advised to be kept out of strong direct sunlight. In the UK the general advice from the NHS is that children under 6 months should not use sun cream instead, they recommend to keep babies out of direct sunlight as much as possible and use other methods to protect their skin, such as clothing and shade. Another reason for their recommendation is because kids might lick the sun cream off and ingest chemicals, have an allergic reaction or react in another unpleasant manner due to their sensitive and thin skin. Hiding your baby from the rays might seem like an impossible task in the summer, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you can enjoy the sun with your baby protected from harm.Buggy coversThe importance of having a breathable and protective buggy cover can’t be overstated! You need an adequate and safe cover to protect your baby from the harmful UV rays whilst allowing: 1. Easy accessibility to facilitate regular checks on your child and,2.Sufficient air circulation within the pram which will help regulate the temperature for your child. The Lullaby Trust has warned that covering your pram or buggy with blankets (or cloths and covers) can lead to heat being trapped within the buggy and could cause your baby to dangerously overheat. The Lullaby Trust recommend attaching a clip-on sunshade or parasol to a pram or buggy and checking if your baby is getting too hot by feeling their tummy or the back of their neck. They advise to keep babies out of direct sunlight as much as possible.Can I use a parasol?Parasols, also known as sun umbrellas, will not block air circulation, however they only shade a small area and the area they shade will shift as the sun moves or as you travel. This means your baby might suddenly be sitting in direct sunlight without you noticing. Also, not all parasols are UV resistant. If you decide to use a parasol, ensure you choose a UV resistant version and that you consistently check that your baby remains shaded by the parasol as it’s hard to guarantee that all UV rays are blocked. It’s also important to note that parasols are not a substitute for other forms of sun protection and should be used with other protective methods such as clothing, hats, staying in the shade and more.
Can I use a muslin cloth?Many parents choose to clip a muslin cloth across the buggy to shade their little one from the sun. This is a lovely ventilator, but muslin cloths are not designed to be in the sun as they’re not UV resistant, so it cannot protect your baby from the sun’s most harmful rays. (However, a muslin sunshade with a UPF coating is available here). A muslin canopy is easily attached to most hooded prams and can be helpful when blocking harmful rays with a UPF 40+ coating.What’s the safest option?My personal preference would be to use a buggy cover made of UV resistant but fully breathable material, that covers the whole opening of the buggy, but allows the air to circulate. The best of these have zips to enable the parents to quickly and easily check on their babies to ensure they are not getting too hot. The best of these are approved by the International Melanoma Foundation. Always remember:1. Remember that the sun will move, and therefore you will need to keep moving your buggy if it’s parked in the shade!2. You must regularly check on your baby due to their sensitivity to temperature. Carry a thermometer with you and check for sweating and red cheeks.3. UV rays are still a threat on cloudy days.4. Darker skinned babies can still burn and remain susceptible to sun damage.5. Fully breastfed babies don’t require any water. Bottle fed babies should be regularly given cooled boiled waterEnjoy the sunshine!Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses. First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.
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