- Only applying sunscreen when outdoors
Most people don’t realise it takes time for the skin to absorb sunscreen. Until it’s absorbed, the skin isn’t protected from harmful UV rays, leaving your baby at risk of burning or sun damage!
You should apply the product 30 minutes before leaving the house, ideally using around 2 table spoons of lotion for their whole body (2mg/cm2). Reapply as soon as you get out into the sun, and then every two hours. This ensures a thick, effective coating of sunscreen for your baby’s sensitive skin.
- Letting newborns face direct sunlight (for vitamin D)
Before your baby turns 6 months old, you should protect them from all direct sunlight. Babies have a thinner epidermis and less pigment, meaning more UV light can pass through the skin’s protective barriers. While your baby’s defences are weak the NHS recommends that it is best to avoid direct sunlight altogether.
Some parents think sunlight will help their baby produce vitamin D, but this is not necessary. Babies get their initial store of vitamin D from their mothers. They may be at risk of low vitamin D if their mother has low levels, but exposing them to direct sunlight – possibly without sunscreen – is not a good move. It is better for the mother to supplement her vitamin D levels, then pass this on via breastfeeding.
- Only wearing sunscreen on bright days
Many of us don’t think about using sunscreen on heavily overcast days. But this is a big mistake! Even on cloudy days, your child can be exposed to large amounts of UV radiation.
UVA radiation is the type of UV radiation with the longest wavelength. It can pass through even the thickest cloud. Although your baby may not burn, large doses of UVA cause premature ageing of the skin later in life. Because a baby’s skin is not fully developed, they can absorb large doses of UVA on summer days, even when cloudy, so applying sunscreen is a must, whatever the weather.
- Not giving your baby sunglasses
Aside from looking adorable, sunglasses can help your baby stay comfortable in the glaring sun. Think – if it’s too bright out for you, it will be too bright for your baby, too. Give your baby their sunglasses whenever you put yours on.
All sunglasses in the UK should comply with the British Standard for UV filtration. This will make sure the glasses don’t let UV light through, so the glasses will protect your baby’s eyes from damage. Check our our Baby Sunglasses post for inspiration!
- Using a low SPF
Some parents think that a baby’s sensitive skin means only gentle products should be used. But this is not how it works for high SPF sunscreens. In fact, babies need a decent SPF (i.e. SPF 25) because their skin can burn so quickly.
Make sure you always use a high SPF product on your baby, like Baby Sun Care SPF 25+. This will ensure they have the best protection from the sun this summer.