As we’ve mentioned, babies’ skin is a delicate thing – much thinner and more prone to damage than our own. That means protecting it from the sun is very important – and not just on those occasional hot summer days!
In fact, babies under 6 months need to be kept out of direct sunlight whenever possible, especially between March and October and in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest. If you can’t avoid the sun for some reason, you can apply a chemical-free sunscreen that uses the minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier between the sun’s rays and your baby’s skin. Further advice
For babies older than 6 months, a gentle sun cream with broad-spectrum SPF protection of factor 15 or above will help, too – apply it to any bits that are exposed, even on cloudy or overcast days, and reapply every couple of hours or after taking your baby in the water.
A few more sun-safe tips for babies and children:
• Wearing a hat with a large brim will help shade the face, ears and neck, and good-quality sunglasses (look for the “CE” mark) will protect your little one’s eyes – look for ones with a neoprene band around the back to help keep them on your baby’s face. (Some babies resist wearing anything on their face or head, but it’s worth persisting!)
• Loose layers are best to cover exposed skin; a large, lightweight muslin cloth can do double duty as a cool covering and a makeshift pram cover on sunny days.
• When applying sunscreen, don’t forget less-obvious areas like the ears, the back of the neck and the tops of the feet.
• Encourage older children to play in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm, and try to time outdoor activities for the morning or afternoon hours instead.
• Don’t forget that sunny days are also often hot days – your little one will need extra liquids to stay hydrated.
One last note: Because sunlight on the skin is also what triggers our bodies to produce vitamin D, doctors recommend that all children aged between six months and five years take a daily vitamin D supplement; your chemist can give you one in liquid form that you can easily add to your child’s food or drinks.