Use a sunshade on strollers and prams
Young babies under 6 months should be kept in the shade and not be exposed to direct sunlight at all, because their skin is too delicate and does not contain enough melanin yet; melanin is the pigment that gives hair and eyes their color and provides some natural protection against the sun’s rays.
Older babies should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. So, attaching a sunshade of some kind on strollers and prams is generally a very good idea to protect your baby’s skin in the sun. But don’t attach a piece of fabric across the stroller – this might give your baby shade, but it can also make it very hot inside the pram, as it can block air ventilation.
Wear SPF, also on cloudy days and in the shade
Did you know that UV rays can penetrate clouds and fabric? So even if it’s cloudy or you’re sitting in the shade underneath a parasol you still need to wear SPF to protect your skin against UV-rays. This of course also goes for children.
The important thing to keep an eye on is the UV index; you can usually find a daily UV-index, which calculates the intensity of the sun’s UV radiation reaching the earth in your location. Whenever the UV index is above 3, it is recommended to use sunscreen – also on cloudy days and in the shade.
Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside - and reapply every 2 hours
To get the best protection from your sunscreen, you should apply it 15 minutes before going out. This way, the sunscreen can absorb into the skin before being exposed to external factors that could wear down the effect. This could be sweating, bathing, the rubbing of towels and clothes and general activity.
And it is very important to use the right amount of sunscreen. The easiest way to remember the right amount of sunscreen is this: 1 handful for 1 body. So, one adult handful for one adult body, and the same goes for kids. To keep the SPF protection up during the day, reapplication is a must. A general rule of thumb is to reapply every 2 hours, but you should always consider your skin type, the time of day and if the skin is exposed to direct sunlight or in the shade.
Find shade when the sun is strongest between 11am-3pm
Around noon, when the sun is highest in the sky, the UV index is also at its peak; this is because the sun’s UV rays have a shorter distance to travel through the Earth’s atmosphere than in the morning and afternoon. You should still wear sunscreen, as UV rays can penetrate parasols and trees, but staying in the shade around noon still offers some protection against sunburn and heatstroke. So, kick back and enjoy a little siesta in the shade!
Remember to reapply after swimming and sweating
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a water-resistant sunscreen is strong enough to last all day without the need to reapply. With water-resistant sunscreen your child can play in the sea or paddling pool for 40 minutes without the protection wearing off, but after 40 minutes the protection is down to around 50%; this is why reapplication is key.
It’s also a great idea to use water resistant sunscreen if you’ll be hiking, sightseeing or playing sports in the sun, but remember that sweating can also wear down the effectiveness of water-resistant sunscreen.
Wear a hat and cover exposed skin with clothes
We’ll say it again: UV rays can penetrate fabric, so you should always wear sunscreen. However, wearing a hat and covering exposed skin with clothes can help protect you, and especially your baby, even better.
Go for tightly woven fabrics in natural materials such as cotton or viscose, which will help keep you and your baby cool and protected. When it comes to hats, once again go for something tightly woven with a wide brim – avoid straw hats with large holes that will let the sun through. For babies it is especially important to choose hats with wide brims to protect their eyes and the delicate skin on their neck and ears. Pro tip: if your baby does not agree that hats are a must, finding a sunhat with a strap is probably the way to go.
Too much sun exposure can lead to sunburn and heatstroke, sometimes also called sunstroke, and this is not something to take lightly. Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to heatstroke, since they can’t regulate their own body temperature as well as adults. Wearing a hat to block the sun’s UV rays from the top of your head can help regulate body temperature and prevent heatstroke, both in children and adults.
Not to mention, without a hat you can actually get sunburned on your scalp – yes, really!
These were our favorite sun-safety tips for a worry-free summer. Apply and reapply your sunscreen, stay protected and most importantly – get out there and enjoy!