Sun Safety for Babies: Protecting Your Baby's Skin in the Summer

smiling baby with sun cream on face

As a mother of three, it’s always fun to get out of the house and enjoy the warmer weather. But even with the laughter and smiles, I’m always worrying about how to protect my children from the sun best.

Below are some sun safety tips for babies and how to avoid sunburn. 

Cover Up 

Dress your baby in loose-fitting cotton clothes - things like baggy/oversized T-shirts and cotton shorts.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a wide-brimmed hat to help shade their neck and face. It’s worth purchasing a suitable pair of sunglasses to help protect your little ones' eyes while outdoors, too - ensure the sunglasses meet British Standards, so look out for the CE mark on labels. 

Some clothing items have a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) against the sun, so it’s always a good idea to check the labels. Alternatively, to see if clothing items will offer enough protection, you can pop your hand inside the clothing to make sure you can’t see through them. 

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Sun Cream, Sun Cream and More Sun Cream

Covering up is the best thing to do when in the sun. But suncream is an extra step that you can take to protect your baby further.

Sun cream should be applied half an hour before going outside. It is important to reapply sun cream every two hours to all exposed skin, even on the cloudier, cooler, overcast days. If babies are playing in pools or with water, suncream must be reapplied each and every time they come out of the water. 

Choose a broad-spectrum sun cream that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 or above and is effective in both UVA and UVB. There are many brands that produce suncream products specifically for children and babies. These sun creams are kinder to their sensitive skin.

Stay in the Shade

The best thing to do with babies is to stay in the shade and avoid direct sunlight when the sun is at its strongest around midday.

It is important to be mindful when covering your pushchair to shade your little one. Ensure the cover is a thin, light-coloured mesh-like material that allows air to flow freely. Alternatively, a sunshade or parasol can be used to help lessen the risk of your baby overheating.

Do not use a blanket or a muslin as a cover to shade your baby, as these can have the opposite effect and make them too hot. 

It is always best to keep the pushchair and your little one away from direct sunlight and in the shade as much as possible. 

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Stay Hydrated 

Babies are at a much great risk of dehydration than adults. If your baby is breastfed, they may feed more than usual - Breast milk adjusts to be more watery in hotter weather. 

Formula-fed babies can be offered cooled boiled water, little and often between feeds - water cannot be given straight from the mains; it must be boiled first to make it sterile (this also applies to filtered water). Bottled water is not recommended as it may contain too much salt. 

Double-Check Any Medicines Your Child Is Taking

Some medications are known to make skin more sensitive to UV rays. You can check the information leaflet that comes with the medicine, which should tell you whether it can make skin more sensitive. Or alternatively, you can seek advice from a pharmacist or GP.

Babies Under Six Months

Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight at all times. Their skin does not contain enough melanin (skin pigment that helps to protect skin from the sun). 

Information on Sunburn and Heat Exhaustion

Sunburn occurs due to excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Skin ends up dried out, which causes an itchy and tight feeling. This may cause pain for your baby, and their skin will feel hot to the touch. 

Here are some ways you can treat sunburn at home:

  • Cool skin with a cool (not cold) bath or shower - you can use a cold sponge or flannel and hold it on the skin. 
  • Use lotions that contain Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera gel which can be purchased on its own - the Aloe Vera helps to soothe and take the sting out of the burn.
  • Keep your little ones hydrated to keep them cool and prevent dehydration.
  • Offer paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve pain.

If blisters develop or you notice swelling. Or if your baby is unwell - develops a fever, chills, headaches or has nausea/vomiting seek medical advice immediately. 

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