Safe sun fun
By: Karen D. Crowdis
Warmer weather draws us all out doors in the pursuit of fun. Children especially love to be outside and find it most difficult to come inside even for food. The warmer weather is not without risk for children of all ages. Direct exposure to the sun can have serious consequences for infants and toddlers in particular.
Infant and toddler skin is still developing. This means that even modest exposure for as little as ten minutes can cause severe damage and even sun burn, increasing the risk of skin cancer later in life. The best protection for infants and toddlers is to seek out shady areas to play. When no shade is available, take the following precautions to maximize summer fun while protecting sensitive skin.
Keep infants out of direct sunlight at all times. Always use a hat that covers the head, ears and neck areas while providing shade for the face. Light clothing that covers limbs is best. If your infant will be in water, ensure they wear a shirt. In a stroller or walker, try to have a canopy or use blankets to make shade. Be aware of surfaces that reflect sunlight. These surfaces reflect half the sun’s rays, exposing baby in some unexpected ways.
Have skin covered or wear sunscreen every time they go outside. Sunscreen should be a minimum SPF 15 or higher. Children should wear wide brimmed hats. Children with blonde or red hair are more susceptible to sun damage. Sunscreen should be applied about 30 minutes before going outside to ensure its effectiveness. If you are not comfortable using sunscreen on your children, protect them with wide brimmed hats and light, tightly woven clothes that fully cover their bodies.
The Canadian Dermatology Association suggests avoiding play in the sun during peak hours of 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun’s rays are at the most intense and should be avoided. Everyone should remember that cloudy days are no exception because a whopping 80% of the sun’s rays make it through cloud cover. Be an example and apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing yourself.
Summer is all about having fun; so get outside, have fun and stay safe!
Excerpted from the Summer 2007 issue of Birthing Magazine, page 36.