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Sun care tips for your baby

Young boy with blonde hair crouching in a rock pool
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As summer approaches and we start planning our holidays, it’s really important to factor in sun safety. Whether you’re planning a tropical getaway, or just plenty of garden time over the summer months, sun care for the whole family should be a priority – but especially your little ones.

What are some essential tips for baby sun care?

Babies and young children have very sensitive skin that is more easily damaged than adult skin. Repeated exposure to sunlight early in life can increase their risk of skin cancer later on.

What’s more, sun exposure can easily cause heat exhaustion and dehydration, and can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. That’s why it’s really important to take some key precautions in the sun when your children are very little.

Babies under six months

If your baby is less than six months old, you should try and keep them out of strong, direct sunlight completely. This is because their skin doesn’t yet contain enough melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin and protects it from sun damage.

If your baby is being breastfed they won’t need to drink any water (unless they’ve started eating solid foods). However, you might notice that in hot weather they need to breastfeed more regularly. For bottle-fed babies, cooled boiled water can be given during hot weather.

Babies over six months

Older babies can have a little more sun, but you still should try to keep them out of strong, direct sunlight whenever possible. On sunny days, aim to keep them inside or in shade between 11am and 3pm – this is when the sun is at its strongest. If you have to go out, attach a sunshade to their pushchair.

Once your baby has started eating solid foods, you should start giving them drinks of water with their meals and during hot weather.

Babies older than one year can drink water, breast milk, or whole cows’ milk to stay hydrated. Additionally, you can give them frozen lollies made from water or diluted fruit juice. You can also keep older children hydrated with fresh fruit and salad.

What should my baby wear in the sun?

When they’re out in the sun, your little one should wear a baby sun hat – one with a broad brim or a flap covering the neck. Long-sleeved tops and trousers or leggings will also help protect their skin – but just make sure your baby doesn’t get overheated.

What sun lotion should I use on my baby?

Baby sun lotion should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and should offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Solero kids sun spray has a very high SPF of 50+, it’s also water resistant making ideal for the beach of paddling pools.

Lots of brands create sensitive sun lotion specially for babies and young children. You might find that these products are more suitable for your little ones as they’re less likely to irritate their skin. A sensitive sun cream, like Solero ultra-sensitive sun lotion is particularly useful if your baby has eczema.

How should I apply sun lotion to my baby?

Sun lotion should be applied to any areas of the body that aren’t covered by clothing. This will usually be the face, neck, ears, feet, and hands, but it might include the legs, arms, and chest as well, depending on how they’re dressed or if they’re wearing a baby sun hat.

If you’re going to be out in the sun for a long time, apply their sun lotion 30 minutes before you plan to leave, then once again right before you go out the door. Reapply regularly, especially if you’re taking your baby into the water.

What are the signs of heat exhaustion in a baby?

Heat exhaustion can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, clammy skin, cramps, fast breathing, fast pulse, high temperature, and excessive thirst. In babies and children, these symptoms might not be easy to spot. However, you might notice that they become floppy or very sleepy.

If you think your baby is overheating, take them out of the sun and into a cool space. Help them hydrate either by breastfeeding or giving them water. You can also cool their skin with a fan, or by gently sponging them with cool water.

What are some sunburn remedies for babies?

If you’re taking the correct precautions, your baby shouldn’t get sunburnt. If they do, you can treat their sunburn the same as you would in an adult:

  • Get them out of the sun
  • Cool down their skin with a damp towel or a cool bath (not ice packs), making sure they don’t get too cold
  • Make sure they’re properly hydrated
  • Use after sun products suitable for baby skin, like aloe vera gel
  • Keep them out of the sun until the burn has healed

References

www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/sunscreen-and-sun-safety
www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/first-aid-and-safety/safety/safety-in-the-sun
www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke
www.nhs.uk/conditions/sunburn