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5 baby sun protection tips for when they’re too young for sunscreen

15 May, 2024

Babies are extremely vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Their skin is thin and ultra sensitive, with lower levels of melanin (pigment which helps block UV radiation), meaning they can burn easily. And research has now found a link between excessive sun exposure during childhood to increased cancer risk later in life. So what can you do? Especially when your baby is under six months and can’t wear sunscreen.

Dermatologists and Cancer Council Australia recommend keeping babies under 12 months out of direct sunlight when the UV index is three or higher, but staying indoors is neither practical or an ideal solution. So here’s five ways you can enjoy the great outdoors while protecting your baby from the sun.

1. Check the UV index

Time your outings for early mornings and late afternoons when the UV index is low. UV radiation starts causing skin damage when the UV index is 3 or higher, and that’s when sun protection measures are required. Depending on where you live in Australia, the danger window can be for the greater part of the day. You can easily check the predicted and actual UV index for your area using the free SunSmart UV index app.

2. Stay in the shade

Where possible, always seek shade. Trees, awnings, pram canopies and umbrellas (check their sun protection rating though) can all help shield your baby from the sun. Be mindful however, that UV rays can reflect off sand, water and concrete, meaning shade doesn’t always prevent sunburn. Also be careful about relying on cloud cover as UV radiation can still penetrate the clouds and cause damage.

3. Dress them in sun protective clothing and hats

Check to see if your baby’s clothing has a UPF rating. Full-body clothing rated UPF 50+ provides excellent sun protection for your baby, blocking over 98% of the sun’s rays.

UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates fabric (it’s the textile equivalent of SPF for sunscreens). In Australia, there’s three protection classifications: UPF 15 is the minimum required to be considered sun protective, UPF 30 is good, and UPF 50/50+ is excellent.

Many hats have UPF ratings too, so look for one with a wide brim or legionnaire style with that UPF 50 rating.

If the clothing doesn’t have a UPF rating, consider the fabric and colour. A typical white cotton t-shirt can have a UPF rating of just 5 so look for tight weave fabric with dark colours (darker colours are more sun protective than lighter shades as they absorb more UV radiation). A loose fit design will also help keep them cool and comfortable on hot days.

4. Use UPF 50+ sun covers

Lightweight blankets with a UPF 50+ rating are a simple and versatile sun protection solution. They can be draped over your pram to extend the canopy’s shade (remember to leave gaps for airflow), placed around your baby carrier to protect exposed limbs, hung over the car window for added protection on road trips and even used by you when you feel the sun’s sting but don’t have or feel like putting on sunscreen.

Avoid using muslin swaddles for sun protection though. Muslin fabric isn’t sun protective and can have a UPF rating of less than 5, meaning sun damage is still possible while under muslin.

5. Use a car window shade

Don’t forget sun protection while in the car too. Plain glass side windows let through quite a bit of UV radiation which can lead to sunburn or sun damage. Look for a sun shade with a high UPF rating that can be attached or hung from the window to protect your baby (and block the light for better naps). Window tinting also helps block UV rays.

Why can’t my baby use sunscreen?

The Australasian College of Dermatologists doesn’t recommend the use of sunscreen on babies under six months because of their sensitive skin and risk of suffering a reaction. Once your baby is over six months, choose a broad spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen made specifically for babies or sensitive skin and use small amounts to areas of exposed skin. If it’s your baby’s first time using sunscreen, test a small amount on the inside of your baby’s arm and wait a few days to make sure there’s no reaction.

How Bebe Trek can help

Bebe Trek’s range of UV protective baby products help you achieve points 2-5!

Their UPF 50+ multifunctional magnetic sun covers help create shade for your baby and the inbuilt magnets mean you don’t have to worry about pram clips, knots, ties or flyaway swaddles. It has over a dozen uses (and counting) and is compatible with any pram and carrier.

And their UPF 50+ full-body sunsuits are lightweight and have an extra long, yet adjustable leg length to protect your baby’s lower legs and feet while in a pram or baby carrier. They’re also made looser fitting for extra airflow on hot days.

Article by: Bebe Trek whom will be exhibiting at PBC BABY Expo, Brisbane, 8 + 9 June, 2024.

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