Summer has arrived and it’s finally time to go out and enjoy the sunshine. We recently posted a guest blog by First Aid for Life founder Emma Hammett about how to keep babies under 6 months safe from the sun. Today, Emma offers advice for older babies and children, giving you peace of mind when you’re out and about or on holiday with a young family.
Unlike babies under 6 months who should not spend any time in direct sun, older babies and children can spend limited time in the sun, providing they follow the guidance below.
Choose tight-weaved clothing that covers your baby’s whole body. Look for garments with a UPF of 50 which will block 98% of UV radiation.
Choose wide-brimmed sun hats (not caps) which will cover your baby’s neck and ears too.
They should also wear sun glasses to protect their eyes. Sunglasses should meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the CE mark – check the label. This is because the UV rays can cause eye damage to a baby’s young eyes.
If your baby has reached over six months of age, they should be wearing sun cream from around April to October (use your judgement to decide – they may need it as early as March, weather dependent).
Choose wisely: Choose a hypoallergenic sun cream specifically designed for babies. You should choose a high factor (SPF 50). For children, the NHS recommend at least a factor 15. It should have at least a four-star UVA and UVB protection rating. There are specific sun creams created for babies which you can buy.
Do a patch test: We would always recommend trying sunscreen on a small area of your baby’s skin (doing a patch test) to make sure your baby can tolerate the product. Apply the small area before you need to rely on the sunscreen to protect them from the sun and check the area for signs of redness or allergy for the next few hours. If there is no reaction, you can then apply this to all exposed areas of their body.
How to apply it: Use enough! Many people do not use enough sun cream – so make sure that you use at least a tablespoon of sun cream if covering the legs and arms of a baby. Apply sunscreen liberally to any area of your baby’s skin that isn’t covered up by clothes or a hat. Remember to include their hands and feet, and the back of their neck and ears.
Pat, don’t rub: It’s best to pat it on rather than rub it in. If you can, put sunscreen on your baby 15 minutes before they are exposed to any sun. Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands. Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
Reapplication: Reapply sunscreen at least every couple of hours and after they have played in water, even if the sunscreen claims to be waterproof. Some water-resistant products may only protect your baby’s skin for up to 40 minutes of water play, while others may protect for up to 80 minutes.
Further tips for keeping your baby safe from the heat and sun in summer
Fluids: Make sure your baby (if they are over six months) is being given regular water little and often.
Sleep: In summer, it is best to create a cool sleeping environment for your baby. Place your baby feet to the foot of the cot, on a flat mattress without blankets or pillows.
When out and about in the summer with your baby in a buggy or pram, sleep can be more problematic. Don’t be tempted to put a blanket over the pram to block out sunlight as this can trap warm air within the buggy, causing the temperature to soar to dangerous levels. Instead, opt for a mesh pram cover that will block out sunlight and allow air to circulate. Always ensure you park your buggy in the shade and keep checking to ensure it remains shaded and cool.
Cloudy days: Remember, you can still get burned in the shade. Sun protection remains essential even on overcast days. If the temperature seems low to you, remember that it could still affect a young baby or child.
The impact of water: Many people do not know that if you are on or near a body of water, this will dramatically increase the potency of the sun’s rays. Remember to reapply sun cream after swimming.
If your baby has sunburn:
Firstly, don’t panic.
Remove them from the sunlight immediately and take them indoors, preferably into a cool or air-conditioned environment.
Shower the affected area for 10 minutes under tepid water, then apply neat aloe vera. Seek immediate medical advice if a baby or child has become sunburnt, particularly if their skin has blistered.
Give them regular drinks of cool water to ensure they remain hydrated. If they show signs of heat exhaustion – hot, flushed, sweaty, unsettled, vomiting or diarrhoea – always get medical advice immediately.
Enjoy the sunshine!