As the weather warms up, and we head into Spring and Summer, Dr. Mona Gohara offers timely tips on proper sun protection for babies and toddlers. In addition to her thriving practice, Dr. Gohara has also created the stylish, innovative line of sun protective clothing for ages 0-24 months called k&j sun protective clothing.
Why Daily Sun Protection in Babies is Important
- 1 blistering sunburn or 5 regular sunburns in childhood double the lifetime risk of melanoma.
- Unfortunately, 54 % of children burn or tan in their second summer, and 22 % burn in their first.
- Both intensive sun exposure (beach, pool) and daily sun exposure in childhood have been linked to skin cancer and pre- mature aging later in life.
- A study in the February online issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that beginning in childhood, every vacation near the water was associated with a five percent increase in small moles (approx 2 mm). This increased number of moles predisposes children to the development of melanoma later in life.
- Babies under the age of 6 months are not supposed to wear sunscreen.
- Standard t-shirts do not provide adequate protection during daily play.
Chemical Free Tips and Solutions
Get Hip Gear: Babies 6 months and under should wear sun protective clothing, broad brimmed hats, and UV protectant wrap around sunglasses during everyday play and at the beach/pool. A stroller canopy should be a must on every expectant mom’s registry list! Look for clothes with a tight weave, and dark/bright colors, they provide superior protection!
Be Smart With the “Screen”: For tots 6 months and older, apply a broad spectrum (protects from UVA and UVB) SPF 30 sunscreen over their entire body ½ of an hour prior to outdoor play; reapply over the entire body every 2 hours and after excessive seating or swimming. Choose chemical free brands such as “Baby Blue Lizard” or “Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby” which contain the naturally occurring minerals, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as their active ingredients.
Special Thoughts for Special Spots: Use a SPF stick for the child’s eyelids (to avoid product running into the eyes) and lips. A personal favorite, “Vanicream SPF 30 Lip Protectant.”
Seek the Shade: Find shaded areas in the park or playground between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is the strongest-this is when most of the damaging sunrays can reek havoc on a child’s skin!
Parents Can’t Slide During a Ride: Ultraviolet light comes through the windows of a car (and home for that matter!) Make sure to have UV blocking shields on the child’s window, to avoid passive, intense sun exposure that can lead to skin cancer later in life!