TIPS from a KID-TESTED MOM: Buying Sun Care and Skin Protection for Babies and Toddlers

Summer can be a wonderful time filled with vacations, more time outdoors and family gatherings. We spend more time outside where we are exposed more to the suns rays then during the any other time of year. We all should protect our skin. Babies and toddlers tender skin especially needs to be protected from the strong rays of the sun. Sun protection products are plentiful. It does not matter what the skin tone is pale, olive, dark; all skin tones need protection from the sun. Which is better sun lotion or sun spray? Which SPF should you use on a baby? Which products do moms recommend and why?

As a veteran mom of three daughters I have been through a lot of summers and can safely say that I have tried everything. Sprays, sun lotions, sun sticks and they all have their advantages. They all have their smells, their pros and cons about usage. My daughters have the added risk of having a family history of skin cancer. My husband had melanoma when our 2nd daughter was just a baby. His dermatologist strongly advised us to be very careful of exposing our daughters to unnecessary exposure to the sun. He suggested trying to limit our sun exposure to the hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. He also recommended applying sun lotion daily as part of our dressing for the day and to reapply every couple of hours, after exposure to water and after excessive sweating.

Sprays are fine for reapplying as they are easy to hit a on-the-go kid with, and still get enough product on moving arms and legs. Sticks are great for covering facial areas like forehead, cheeks and chin. The best way to apply sun protection to a baby is to make it a part of your daily changing routine. Keep a bottle of sun lotion product right with your diaper supplies and apply with the first clothing change of the day and then every few hours while you have the baby on the changing surface, take the opportunity to reapply the lotion to all skin surfaces.

Sun Protection SPF guidelines can be confusing. The safest advise is from a pharmacist, who says to never apply higher than a SPF of 30 to a baby’s tender skin. Pediatricians recommend severely limiting sun exposure in babies younger than 6 months. If you must expose a very young baby to the sun, cover all body parts with breathable, light colored cloth. Protect a young baby’s eyes from the sun by covering the baby with a very light blanket (spread the blanket over the infant seat or carrier, not on the face directly). I can not tell you how many times I have witnessed very young babies squinting from laying in carriers and being forced to look directly up into the sun. Imagine yourself in your baby’s position; would you want to look directly up into the sun without sunglasses on? The best advice I found about SPF was from the UAB Healthsystem Website at this is a direct quote from the site:

“The best way to prevent skin cancer: Stay out of the sun. When outside, cover up with protective clothing and slather on sunscreen. Experts recommend using an SPF of at least 15-even if you have dark skin. Go higher if your skin burns easily. Fair-skinned people developed 2Ã?½ times fewer sunburned cells when they wore an SPF 30 versus an SPF 15. ”
You can go to the above listed link to read more about SPF, tanning and skin cancer and other skin related topics.
There are many, many manufacturers of sun protection products. Some of the products that I or moms that I know of, have used on babies and young children are: Baby Blanket – this is a barrier sunscreen product. Barrier products contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. I love to comparison shop and found this fantastic site that allows you to compare prices offered by various stores online and offline for the product you are searching for. Here is the link for Baby Blanket Sunscreen another popular sunlotion is Ombrelle, Bullfrog, and California Baby. Please apply sunlotion a minimum of 15 minutes BEFORE sun exposure. Always follow the directions on the product label and call your physician or pediatrician should the child develop a rash. Be especially careful of combination sunlotion products. I use a product from Avon Products Inc. that has cintronella in it and found out that my one daughter is allergic to this ingredient; when she broke out in a rash everywhere that I had applied the product. When you have a child that has been known to have allergic reactions to skin care products in the past; it is a good idea to apply a small amount on a small area of the skin as a test. Then check the area, at least a couple of hours later to see if there is any reaction to the area that you applied the sunlotion to. Most brands of sunlotion that say they are waterproof are only giving protection from the sun for 80 minutes, so please reapply before that time expires. If the sunlotion says water resistant, it is likely to be protecting your child for only 40 minutes; so best reapply before this time is up. If your sunlotion does not say waterproof or water resistant than reapply after getting out of the water. Unless your sunlotion says that it is wipe-resistant, you need to reapply after toweling off from swimming or from sweating. One brand that is recommended for longer periods of waterproof protection is Hawaiian Tropic Baby. It has an extended waterproof time of four hours of continuous water protection. The bottle is yellow-orange in color; at least it was at last check.

Protecting babies and toddlers from sun exposure is very important. The skin is the largest organ the body has and protecting it from being burned not only will save tears, but also can give the child a better chance of preventing skin cancer later in life. When shopping for sun protection, read labels. Do price comparisons once you decide on a sunlotion, or other sun protection product. Reapply sun protection often, as the label suggests. Check to be sure if the product is waterproof or water-resistant. Reapply sunlotion after being in the water, after excessive sweating or toweling off. Apply sunlotion to babies at the first clothing change of the day and several hours later. Keep sunlotion in the diaper bag for convenience. Limit sun exposure if possible to before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. When exposure is unavoidable use sunlotion to all exposed areas of the skin and wear lightweight, light colored clothing. Babies under six months of age, especially need to be protected from the suns harmful rays. Have fun in the summer sun, just protect the skin of babies and toddlers when you are outside.

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