Babies and small children have tender, delicate skin, and can burn easily in New Zealand's summer sunshine. Even if you're only going to the local playground for an hour, your child needs sunscreen and a hat, and you should be careful to protect them from too much sun.
The Cancer Society of New Zealand has the following recommendations:
• Keep infants and small children out of the sun as much as possible between September and March, especially between 11am and 4pm.
• Provide adequate shade and regularly check positioning of infant's clothing to ensure adequate protection from sun.
• Be cautious using sunscreen on babies under one year of age. Where possible, use clothing to cover their skin.
• Where skin is unavoidably exposed (such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, backs of neck, ears, and hairline), apply SPF30+ broad spectrum sunscreen.
• Patch-test sunscreen on a small area of skin first.
• Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going outside and reapplied at regular intervals.
Remember the SunSmart rules - "slip, slop, slap, and wrap" - apply to all ages. Extra diligence is needed with babies and young children, due to their especially sensitive skin and the fact that episodes of sunburn in children and adolescence increase the risk of melanoma in adulthood. For more information, check out www.sunsmart.org.nz