Can our infant be on the beach?

We’re going to the coast for a family reunion. Can we take our five-month-old son to the beach?

Question:

What a wonderful new wave of sights, sounds and smells for your baby! Your real concern should be protecting him from the sun. His delicate skin can burn in 10 or 15 minutes, even if it’s a cloudy, overcast day.

Look for a "broad spectrum" (UVA/UVB) sunscreen that is made for infants or one with no added fragrance or color. Since August 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics has approved the use of sunscreen for all babies, even those younger than six months. Try a test patch first. If he doesn’t have any reaction, then apply sunscreen only to the parts of his body that will be exposed. Put the sunscreen on a full 20 minutes before you plan to take him out. Be sure to reapply sunscreen after you take him into the water.

Next: 4 common sense tips for protection

 

Use the same common sense for your son’s sun exposure as for yourself:

  • Avoid direct sun, especially from 10 to 4. (If he has to go out in the middle of the day, dress him in a lightweight, long-sleeved top and pants.)
  • Protect his eyes with quality UVA/UVB sunglasses.
  • Cover his head, face and neck with a broad-rimmed hat.
  • Block direct rays. Use a beach umbrella or the shade on the stroller. If you use a pop-up beach tent, be sure to monitor the temperature inside.

Sunburn is an emergency for babies under one year. If his skin is radiating heat, bright pink or blistered, get medical attention at once. Soaking your baby in tepid water and gently applying water-based moisturizers may comfort very mild conditions. Encourage liquids.

Excessive sun exposure results in wrinkles, skin cancer and possibly cataracts. Two or more blistering burns in our youth greatly increase these risks. Keep in mind that your baby cannot tell you when he has had enough sun. It is up to you to be sure he has fun in the sun!

For more information, read Baby Skin Care.

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