When can I put sunscreen on my baby?

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Parent applying sunscreen to toddler

It’s that glorious time of year when many of us are making plans to jet off to sunnier climbs, or perhaps you’re planning a staycation and/or a series of fun summer trips out.  

Whatever your summer plans, it’s important to have a sun protection plan in place for your baby.  

The NHS advises: Sunburn does not just happen on holiday. You can burn in the UK, even when it's cloudy. So what’s the best way to keep your little one safe?  

Babies are much more sensitive to sun exposure than adults and older children. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends waiting until your baby is 6 months old before introducing sunscreen. If your baby is under 6 months, don’t worry, there is still lots you can do to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays.  

Shady lady 

The NHS warns that babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight. When you’re on the move, use a sun-protective cover on your pram. While travelling in the car you can use a removable mesh window shield to block sunlight from reaching your baby as some damaging rays can penetrate glass. 

Toddler in the shade

It’s a cover up  

Dressing babies in lightweight clothing that covers their arms and legs, as well as a hat to protect their face, is a great way to keep your baby sun safe. Find a hat that covers their face, neck and ears – they will look super sweet too. 

Baby on the beach covered up

Get the timing right  

On warmer days, choose to avoid being out in strong midday sun. In the UK, this is between 11am and 3pm from March to October. Take advantage of the longer summer evenings, when it’s cooler, to go out for a stroll before bedtime.  

Baby chilling on a sun lounger

Choosing sunscreen 

Once your baby is 6 months old, you can add introduce sunscreen as well as keeping up with all the advice above.  

Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands. Stock up on a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30, but preferably 50, to protect against UVB rays. Look for 4 star or 5 star UVA protection – this protects your little one from the risks of exposure to UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin. If you’ll be going in the pool, re-apply it regularly even if the bottle claims the sunscreen is waterproof.  

Make sure you apply it half an hour before going into the sun, to allow for it to be absorbed. You should re-apply sunscreen at least every 2 hours, or immediately after your child has been in the water, has been sweating, or if it has been rubbed off. 

Many parents don’t realise that just one case of sunburn in childhood can mean your little one is at risk of skin cancer in later life.  

Starting a sun protection routine now will educate your child about the dangers of sun exposure at an early age and protect them for life.  

Parent applying sunscreen to toddlers back

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken to represent professional or medical advice. Always seek advice from a medical professional when deciding on what is best for you and your baby. 

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