No matter what the calendar says, it’s always good to get outside and soak up some rays. A change of scenery is a surefire mood-lifter for you and for your baby, and you’ll get some vitamin D to boot! But is sunshine safe for your little one? It sure is — as long as you follow some basic precautions.
Time your outing right ..
A morning stroll or late afternoon playground visit is great, but lay low at midday (between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) when the sun is strongest.
When you do go out, protect your baby’s very delicate skin with lightweight, layered clothing, a hat, and a parasol or other sunshade for her stroller.
And don’t forget that clouds, no matter how big, do little to block the harmful, radiating rays of the sun. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there — so keep your baby covered up.
Know your sunscreen smarts ..
Until a few years ago the American Academy of Pediatrics advised against the use of sunblock for babies under six months of age. The new guidelines say that sunscreen may be used on small areas of the body such as the face and the back of the hands if adequate clothing and shade are not available. Here, sun-savvy info:
Look for a product that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 that protects against both kinds of ultraviolet rays — UVA and UVB — and is waterproof or water-resistant if you plan to hit the pool, beach, or backyard sprinkler. Also, seek out a sunscreen free of PABA, an ingredient that’s often irritating to babies’ skin. There are many especially-for-baby products on the market so read labels and choose carefully.
Test first. It’s better to discover that your baby has sensitivity to the sunscreen via a small test patch before you slather it all over her. (Put a small amount on the back of her hand and wait a little while to see if redness or a rash develops.)
Apply early and often. Spread the sunscreen all over any exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. And don’t skimp — in this case, more is definitely better. Pay special attention to the nose, lips, and ears, using zinc oxide or a sun stick designed especially for these extra-susceptible and sensitive parts of the body. Generally, dermatologists recommend reapplying about every two hours — more often if you’re outside for long periods of time or your baby gets wet.
Don’t forget to set a good example by protecting your own skin too! Who needs wrinkles anyway?