Here at SnoozeShade HQ our positive outlook on life means we’re sure these fabulous sunny days are here to stay, at least for a little while.
As I am often asked about how to keep babies safe in the sun I thought I’d jot down some top tips.
Remember, protecting your baby in the sun is essential whether you’re at the beach, the park, playing in the garden or even out and about in a built-up area like the shops.
Did you know? UV rays don’t just come from above as they are reflected by water, concrete, snow, sand and other surfaces.
As the sun’s rays are at their strongest around midday, it’s best to stay inside or keep in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm if you can, especially when your baby is very young.
Did you know? When travelling abroad, a simple way to find out when the sun’s rays are at their strongest is to look at your shadow – if it is shorter than your height this means that the sun’s UV rays are strong.
I know it’s not a cheery topic but it wouldn’t do any harm to remind ourselves about the reality of letting our skin burn. According to Cancer Research UK, more than 65,000 new cases of skin cancer are reported every year and it is now the most common cancer in the UK. Getting sunburnt in the first 15 years of life increases your risk of getting skin cancer later, so try to get your children into good habits early on.
Did you know? UVB rays cause sunburn by burning the top layer of skin, while UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can cause ageing and skin cancer by damaging cells. UVC rays are out there too; they are the most dangerous but are blocked from reaching the earth by the ozone layer.
When you’re packing for your day out, remember to take these key items with you:
Sunscreen: babies under 6 months old – very young babies have very thin skin and can burn very quickly. It is generally advised to keep them out of the sun entirely in the first six months. If you have no choice then ensure that any sunscreens you use are safe to use with babies aged under 6 months and apply only to the areas that are exposed to the sun eg hands and feet. If you’re not sure then speak to your doctor or relevant medical professional.
Sunscreen: babies over 6 months old – slap on a generous layer of high level SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen 30-50 all over your little one’s face and body (even under clothes as the sun’s UV rays penetrate some fabrics) 15-30 minutes before you go out and make sure you reapply every few hours, especially if they’re sweating lots or are in and out of water.
Sun hat – the top of the head and hairline are prone to burning (whether your child has a full head of hair or not) and are often the bits that are missed when sunscreen is applied. Try to get a wide-brimmed hat or one with a flap of material at the back to protect the face and neck. If they fall asleep then take the hat off (even if it disturbs them).
Extra clothes – loose, lightweight and long sleeve tops that will cover up little arms in hot sun are a good idea, and clothes made from natural fibres will absorb sweat and let skin breathe.
Did you know? Heat stress on the body is a result of three factors: humidity is 70%; sun radiation is 20% and the temperature is 10% (according to Dr Paul Roumeliotis of www.drpaul.com).
Parasol – an umbrella in the sand or ground will be a welcome relief after a sprint back to base from the sea and will provide an area of safe shade to sit and have a spot of lunch
Sunshade for pram or stroller – SnoozeShade has a range of breathable blackout covers to fit any make, model and size of pram, pushchair or stroller. Using one will not only help your baby to sleep if you’re out when it’s nap time, but will provide maximum sun protection of UPF50+ (ultraviolet protection factor) to keep your baby safe on a sunny day as well as keeping insects at bay. They can be positioned in a variety of ways to create part or full shade.
Sunglasses – choose sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UVA and UVB rays and buy from a reputable shop only. If your little one won’t wear them don’t push it, but if they are happy to it could lower their risk of getting eye problems later in life
Plenty of drinks – babies and children can easily become dehydrated (look for signs of tiredness, headache, dry nappies or fewer trips to the toilet and no tears when they cry) so offer them as much water, milk or squash as they want. If your child isn’t a great drinker, try fruit like water melon and cucumber as they contain a high percentage of water
Did you know? The best way to check if your baby is too hot is to place your hand at the top of their back or chest, as hands and feet are usually cooler than the rest of the body.
Remember to take extra care on the journey too – my daughter Holly loves using her little hand-held fan with foam blades to keep cool and we don’t go anywhere without sunshades on the car windows (the sun’s rays penetrate glass too). Never leave your baby to sleep in a parked car as the temperature will quickly rise in the sun.
Have fun in the sun – Last but not least, it’s important for children in the UK to have safe exposure to sunlight to help them produce Vitamin D to develop healthy bones. Letting them play outdoors in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is weaker is a great way to top up on the sunshine vitamin.
Did you know? It’s the UV-B rays that create Vitamin D. In the UK, experts recommend that face and forearms are exposed to the sun, without sunscreen, most days between the hours of 11am and 3pm from April to October. The length of time in the sun without sunscreen or covering up depends on the individual and needs to be less than it takes for the skin to go red or burn.
Have fun in the sun and long may it last!