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Proper sun protection is crucial at any age, but when it comes to your new baby, it’s a step you must not skip to keep them safe. Their skin is incredibly sensitive, and while it may take an hour or so for you to get a little pink in the sun, it can take no time at all for your baby to start developing a sunburn. This is because their skin doesn’t contain as much melanin as more mature skin. Melanin is the pigment that colors the skin and hair and is also able to block out the sun’s rays to some degree.

When choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to shop around. Not all products are formulated the same way and not every sunscreen is meant for every member of the family. Look for a sunscreen that is formulated specifically for kids and that has an SPF of at least 30. A water-resistant product is best, meaning it will hold up better when playing in the water, and you should also choose a product that is broad spectrum, which means it provides a shield against both UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients you should look for are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which have been proven most effective at blocking out the sun’s rays. Beyond that, looking for a gentle, hypoallergenic formula will decrease the chance of any skin irritations developing.

Once you’ve found your preferred sunscreen, it’s time to apply it. Make sure this is done before heading outdoors and throw the bottle in your bag so you can reapply as needed. Children who are aged six months and older are able to wear sunscreen, so be sure to apply it liberally from head to toe.. Make sure to reapply the sunscreen according to product instructions (typically every 45 minutes to two hours), especially if they’re sweating or playing in water that could rinse it off.  Infants up to six months should wear protective clothing and be kept out of direct sunlight whenever possible. Try to use a ray shade on their stroller and car sunshades are a great idea too, as the sun shining through car windows can be very fierce.

The symptoms of sunburn are redness and skin that is hot to the touch. Blisters can eventually develop as well. If your child is getting red and their skin is warm to the touch, be sure to take them indoors. Applying a cold compress can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Moisturizing the skin with a natural product like aloe vera or honey can also provide relief and promote healing of the skin. A severe sunburn is reason to take your little one to the doctor right away, who may recommend an infant painkiller for some relief as well.

Remember, the sun’s rays can be damaging even when it’s dark and gray outside or in the winter. Applying sunscreen year round to exposed skin is the best way to make sure your baby and your entire family are protected. Wearing hats and clothing will provide additional coverage from the sun as well.

Now protect yourself and your baby, get out there and enjoy the fresh air!

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