According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, by using sunscreens on your baby starting at the age of six months, you could reduce his or her chances of developing skin cancer later in life.
The foundation says a baby's skin is less able to protect itself from injuries including sunburn. A sunburn can be dangerous to infants and toddlers. It can cause dehydration, fever, faintness, delirium, shock, low blood pressure and irregular heartbeat.If a baby less than one year old gets a sunburn, treat it as a medical emergency and call a doctor immediately. If the child is over a year old, call the doctor if there is severe pain, blistering, lethargy or a fever over 101 degrees F.
Rules of thumb to follow regarding your child's exposure to the sun:
- Do not use sunscreen on babies less than six months old. Keep them out of the sun entirely. Use carriage hoods, canopies and umbrellas.
- For children six months old or older, avoid the hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the sun is its most intense.
- Limit the time spent in the sun regardless of hour or season.
- Cover up with hats and clothing, the more tightly woven, the better. A broad-brimmed hat is a must to shade ears, nose and lips. It may also reduce your baby's risk of cataracts later in life.
- Apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 or greater to your child's body. Reapply every two hours.
- Some medicines make skin sun-sensitive. If your child is taking medication, ask your doctor if sun should be avoided.
- Don't be fooled by overcast days. Damaging rays can penetrate clouds and haze.
- Never put baby oil on your baby before he goes outside. It makes the skin translucent and solar rays pass through more easily.