Sunscreen For Babies And Children

Tips on how and when to apply sunscreen on babies and children, and advice on which sun protection products and the best and safest.

With our ozone layer depleting and protecting us even less from the sun than it has in the past, sunscreen is no longer the domain of the lily white child. Every parent should be aware of the dangers to their child when they do something as simple as going outside to play. Now don't over react and keep your child indoors all the time. After all, the body requires some exposure to the sun in order to create Vitamin D, a nutrient that every child needs plenty of in order to have strong bones. By getting yourself and your child in the habit of applying sunscreen, you can protect your child from harmful rays while allowing them to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air that every child should benefit from.

Bear in mind that there are certain times of day that are much more dangerous than others. Prolonged exposure to the sun during the strongest rays of the day (between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm) can cause far more problems than just sunburn. Keeping your child properly hydrated should also be a concern.

Sunscreen isn't just for the beach anymore. The sun in your backyard is just as dangerous as the sun at the beach. Whenever your child is outdoors, they should be wearing sunscreen. Don't be fooled by cloudy, cool, or overcast days either. Ultraviolet rays aren't slowed down by clouds or pollution and are often magnified when reflected off snow, sand, water, and even concrete. Yes, sunburn and skin damage can happen even on the haziest days! In fact, on cooler days, it is more difficult to realize that you're burning because the temperature keeps your skin feeling cool.

It is not recommended to use sunscreen on infants under six months old but if you can't cover them with appropriate clothing, hats and umbrellas, sunscreen is your only option and far more desirable than allowing your child to go completely unprotected.

Sunscreens available for children these days are far easier to use (and more pleasant) than those available a generation ago. There are formulas, especially for children, available in spray, cream, lotion, gel, towelette and stick forms. There are also scalp sprays and lip balms. (The scalp and lips are often forgotten when we apply sunscreen, which can lead to some of the most painful sunburns.)

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children, regardless of skin tone, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more. Even dark skinned children can develop sunburns. When purchasing sunscreen for children, always try to buy an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or more. The higher the SPF number, the more protection you will be able to provide your child. Also look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. To avoid possible skin irritation, look for a PABA free formula with the active ingredient of titanium dioxide.

Purchasing the correct form and formula are just the first half of the equation for the conscientious parent. The second half is applying it correctly.

Always apply sunscreen any time your child will be out in the sun. To provide the best protection, sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to their exposure to sunlight. If they won't be wearing a hat, be sure to use a scalp spray and, in addition to all the obvious areas, don't forget their lips, hands, ears, feet, and behind their neck. Always apply sunscreen generously and often, at least every 2-3 hours. If your child begins to sweat or has been swimming, apply additional sunscreen immediately. Even waterproof sunscreen has its limits.

Lastly, remember to protect the one area where sunscreen cannot be applied - the eyes. Get your little one into some sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection and they'll really be ready for that fresh air and sunshine!

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