As a concerned mama or daddy, you probably already know that having just one or two sunburns can significantly increase your baby’s risk of melanoma later in life. Having five or more sunburns during childhood can increase the lifetime risk of melanoma by 80%. With those worrisome statistics in mind, you want to make sure you are doing the most to prevent a sunburn for your baby.
Babies should avoid being outside during peak ultraviolet hours (10 am – 2 pm) and wear hats and clothing with UPF protection whenever possible. Also, if your baby is outside, seek shade as much as you can.
If your baby is six months or older, you can use sunscreen to further protect her from the sun’s harmful rays. But, how do you know if you’re using the safest baby sunscreen? Here are some guidelines:
- Go chemical-free. When choosing sunscreen, look for a chemical-free option. Chemical-free sunscreens are less irritating to a baby’s delicate skin. Chemical-free sunscreens usually have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide listed as their active ingredients. These ingredients create a physical barrier that blocks the sun from the skin.
- Know your numbers. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-based spectrum sunscreen (meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or more. An SPF number is the theoretical amount of time you can spend in the sun without getting sunburned. However, double the SPF does not mean double the amount of time you can stay out. More is not necessarily more, but you want a minimum of 30. Baby Pibu’s Baby Sunscreen has an SPF of 30+ and offers broad-spectrum protection.
- Avoid fragrance. Up to 10% of the North American population has a fragrance allergy, meaning fragrance causes a skin rash. Fragrance is one of the top five allergens causing skin rashes. While the scent of coconuts in sunscreen may bring back memories of a great vacation or feelings of nostalgia, it’s best to keep it off of your baby.
- Apply early and often. Sunscreen needs upwards of 30 minutes for the ingredients to bind with the skin and create a strong barrier. Don’t wait until you’re sitting by the pool or nestled in the sand to apply sunscreen. A good rule of thumb is to apply sunscreen as you are getting your baby into his bathing suit. And don’t forget to reapply. Sunscreens need to be reapplied every 1 ½ – 2 hours. Apply even more frequently if you and your baby have been swimming or sweating.
- Avoid nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are very, very tiny, microscopic components of an item. With regard to sunscreen, there are concerns that nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can cross through the skin, enter the bloodstream, and end up in key organs because the particles are so small. People with eczema and psoriasis, as well as other skin concerns, should be particularly careful of nanoparticles because their skin’s barrier is weakened. Baby Pibu’s Baby Sunscreen uses micronized particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in its formula. There are no nanoparticles present.
- Rub, rub, rub. While spray sunscreens are certainly convenient, it’s best to avoid them for your baby. Some spray sunscreens may also use nanoparticles that could deposit in the lungs. Instead, liberally spread sunscreen all over your little one and treat him to a mini-massage.
The only way to 100% avoid a sunburn is to stay out of the sun completely. Since this is not an option (after all, we all need some fresh air!) make every effort to keep your baby protected by using a safe sunscreen. With the tips above, you can be sure you know you’re using the safest baby sunscreen for your little one. Enjoy some outdoors time together, safely!