Do Infants Need Sunscreen?

How to protect your infant's skin without sunscreen

Here’s what the FDA has to say about whether infants should have sunscreen applied to their delicate skin to protect them from too much sunlight.

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Part of being a good parent is taking all of the precautions you can. For example, today many parents buy specially designed helmets to protect their infants during those first-steps stages to protect their fragile head during an eventual fall as they learn to balance and toddle precariously around the house.

But it’s the hottest days of summer now, and in all likelihood, more time is spent outdoors, which means more sunlight exposure. So, does this mean as a concerned parent that you should slather your infant in sunscreen with the highest SPF available?

Are You Using the Right Sunscreen? Maybe Not

According to a recent FDA Consumer Update, Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician at the Food and Drug Administration tells parents that for infants, sunscreen is usually not advised.

“The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun,” Sachs says, “and to particularly avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”

The Cons of Sunscreen on Infants

• Because infants have younger, more delicate skin and a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults, the chemicals in the sunscreen might be too much for their system and places the infant at an increased risk of side effects from the chemicals found in sunscreens.

• Infants are more prone to overheating than children and adults because their natural cooling perspiration protection has not fully developed which can lead to serious over-heating.

• Infants dehydrate much quicker than children and adults and therefore should spend less time in the sun and more time on a bottle or breast to maintain hydration.

How to Protect your Infant This Summer

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The FDA offers the following tips so that sunscreen is not needed for infants younger than 6 months:

• Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.

• Consult your pediatrician before using any sunscreen on your baby.

• Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense; if you hold the fabric against your hand and it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.

• Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shade at all times.

• Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.

• If your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas.

• Hydrate! Give your child formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.

Poisonous Sunscreen Warning

For more sunscreen safety advice, here is a Poisonous Sunscreen Warning Revealed by Dr. Oz.

Reference: Consumer Update―”Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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Comments

Sunscreen is a disaster for all ages, so I'm happy to see the advice not to apply it to infants. Some sun exposure is necessary for human health at all ages, and depriving an infant of that salutary activity is a horror. It will result in weaker bones, low vitamin D levels and failure of brain development. The key to safe sun exposure is to avoid sunburn. When the skin starts to redden, then adults and infants alike should leave direct sun exposure. In the 1930s, when the medical community had not yet bought into the sun phobia of today, the Department of Labor printed a pamphlet called Sun for Babies in which they made this statement: “Every mother who wishes her baby to have robust health should give him regular sun baths from early infancy until he is old enough to play in the sun himself. If the sun’s rays are to help the baby grow properly and to prevent rickets, they must fall directly on the skin and tan it.” That would not be popular advice today, and it is likely that any parent practicing “baby tanning” would be arrested for child abuse. Since the 1930’s the dermatological profession has come a long way… in the wrong direction. Children who are born in summer or who have more sun exposure have more rapid growth and they go into puberty later, which is an important predictor of better future health. All human beings need sun exposure, and those who are habitually in the sun have stronger bones, less risk of breast and prostate cancer and less risk of death. Safe sun exposure is a vital need for good health. To learn more, visit Sunlight institute