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Ages & Stages

​Why is a baby at special risk from sunburn?

A baby’s skin is more delicate and thinner than an adult’s and burns and irritates more easily. Even dark-skinned babies may be sunburned. Babies cannot tell you if they are too hot or beginning to burn and cannot get out of the sun without an adult’s help. Babies also need an adult to dress them properly and to apply sunscreen.

Prevention Tips

Learn how to stop sunburn before it happens and keep your baby happy, safe, and smiling: 

  • Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct and indirect sunlight because of the risk of heat stroke. Particularly, avoid having a baby out between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Keep babies in the shade as much as possible. For example, they should be moved under a tree, beach umbrella, or stroller canopy. However, it is important to note that although on reflective surfaces, an umbrella or canopy may reduce UVR exposure by only 50%.
  • Dress babies in lightweight cotton clothing with long sleeves and long pants and a sun hat with a wide brim.
  • Sunscreen may be applied to babies younger than 6 months to small areas of skin uncovered by clothing and hats. Remember to cover all exposed areas of a baby's skin, including the face, back of the hands, back of the neck, tips of the ears, and tops of the feet.
  • Apply the protection 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Keep in mind that no sunscreens are truly waterproof, and thus they need to be reapplied every one and a half to two hours, particularly if a baby goes into the water. Consult the instructions on the bottle.

 

Last Updated
8/4/2014
Source
Adapted from Pediatric Environmental Health, 3rd Edition (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.