New parents face many questions about caring for their kids, and it’s no different when it comes to sun safety. New Zealand has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, so it's important to be sun-safe. We’ve put together a list of handy hints from the Cancer Society of New Zealand on protecting your little ones from the sun's harmful rays.
Is sunscreen safe for babies?
Babies younger than one year old should be kept out of direct sunlight altogether. Never rely on sunscreen to keep your baby safe. Their skin isn’t thick like ours, so it can burn in just a couple of minutes and they can get sun damage from only a small amount of UV radiation.
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 especially recommends keeping infants out of the sun as much as possible from September to April, between 10 am and 4 pm, as this is the highest Sun Protection Alert period.
However, when you need to take your baby outside, you can apply an SPF30+ or higher broad spectrum sunscreen on any areas of skin not covered by clothing. Put it on at least 20 minutes before taking them outside, and reapply it every two hours.
If you're carrying baby in a frontpack, consider using a large muslin cloth or wrap, tucked in at the top of the frontpack and left loose at the bottom, to cover their arms and legs. (Apply sunscreen to your baby as well).
Make sure that the sunscreen is water resistant if your baby or toddler is playing in water, and reapply if every hour or more to prevent the sunscreen getting washed off.
As with any other skin products, stop using the sunscreen immediately if your little one comes up in a rash or shows other signs of skin irritation. Many brands have a gentler version specifically designed for babies or toddlers.
You can also reduce their exposure to UV radiation by adding these protective measures to the sunscreen: