Too much sun is no good for anyone, and especially where babies and young children are concerned. A baby’s skin is lovely to touch, but along with that suppleness and smoothness comes a delicateness that’s different from an adult’s skin, and extra vulnerable. Sunburn is no fun for a young child, causing pain, fever and sometimes dehydration – plus it increases the risk of him or her contracting melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.
The sun is generally its hottest between 10 and 4 o’clock, so stay indoors or in the shade as far as possible during that period. When you do venture out, take up some of the precautions mentioned below.
But first, let’s correct the misconception that babies can only get burnt by a blazing sun. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case – not just for babies, but for all of us in general. Your baby (and you) can just as easily get burnt on cloudy or cool days, because it’s not about the heat of the sun that burns the skin, but the power of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. You might not feel the effects of being out of doors for long periods without the glare of a burning sun, but you will still be able to see the effects several hours later on your reddened skin.
Use the sunshade on your pram whenever you’re outside. However, shade alone is not enough – the sun’s UV rays can still get to you when you’re sheltered from above. If you’re out of doors a fair amount of time on a regular basis, consider investing in a detachable stroller shade that can provide UV protection for your child’s whole body. You can also arm baby and yourself with UV-protective sunglasses – that is, if baby is willing to keep them on! And, of course, slather on the sunblock. Choose one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 and above, and one which provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Apply sunblock about 15-30 minutes before leaving the house. If you are outside for long period of time, reapply the sunblock at 2-hour intervals, even if you have been immersed in swimming pool or sea water for most of that time.
If your child is in infant care or childcare, inform the staff about your preferences for bringing your child out, and provide them with the appropriate sunblock and/or clothing for your child.
By Dorothea Chow