Do Infants Need 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.
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?
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
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”
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