Keeping Babies and Toddlers Safe From Sun Exposure
by Gwen Lindgren, PA-C, Montrose Pediatric Associates
Jul 07, 2011 | 508 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Summer is in full swing, with trips to the pool, lake or beach filling up your weekends, if not your weekdays too. Protecting your children from the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays is a special concern during the summer months. For Colorado residents, this is a year-round concern because our elevation increases our exposure to the sun. Here are some tips for babies and toddlers this summer:

Keep babies younger than 6 months of age out of the direct sunlight. Your baby can be exposed to too much sun even under a shade tree. A physical barrier like an umbrella will protect your baby’s skin and eyes.

Keep toddlers and young children out of the direct sunlight as much as possible, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Dress your children in lightweight hats, loose long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside during mid day.

Protect your child with water resistant sunscreens. Use sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher (SPF stands for sun protection factor), and apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply sunscreen every 45 minutes. You might try a sunblock of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; these ingredients sit on top of the skin and form a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. Plus, they usually don’t cause allergic reactions like some chemical sunscreens, which are absorbed by the skin. Try a patch test first; if redness appears, try a hypoallergenic sunscreen.

Be a good role model. Practice sun safety yourself!

Sun exposure is good for us because it helps our body make Vitamin D. However, we need only 10 minutes of sun exposure per day, and then it’s time to cover up. Remember, even on overcast days we can get too much sun. Sun overexposure is an everyday concern if you live in Colorado.

– Gwen Lindgren, PA-C is a pediatric physician assistant for Pediatric Associates in Montrose.
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