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Children must be allowed to be outside as much as possible. They need to play and run and eat ice cream and bike and have a wonderful time in the heat. While the sun’s rays are warming, children’s skin needs to be protected. Tips and advice about sun protection for babies and children using sunscreen and more.
Is sun protection important for children?
Yes, it is well established that the skin needs to be protected against sunburn to reduce possible risk of skin cancer. The best form of sun protection is clothing. This includes a sun hat (preferably one which also protects the neck) or a cap. For children who are not crawling and running yet, shade is the best protection (e.g. parasol or tree!). Sun protection is also good for those who ride the stroller.
Choose shade in the middle of the day
During scorching hot summer days, the sun’s rays burn strongest for a few hours in the middle of the day. Try to plan your day so that you are inside between those hours, or playing in the shade under the trees. Swimming and outdoor play in the open air can be even better suited in the afternoon.
During the holidays you can plan a siesta with rest indoors or in the shade after lunch for the whole family. Then children can also stay up longer and you can enjoy balmy evenings together without the risk of sunburn.
Sun hat or sunglasses?
Put on a sun hat when children are out in the sun. The advantage of a sun hat is that it also protects the face and neck from the sun. It also provides adequate protection for the eyes. Sunglasses for small children are not dangerous nor necessary in any way.
Sunscreen for children
When children need to be out in the scorching sun, parts of the skin that are not covered by clothes or shaded by a sun hat, need sunscreen. If you use a cream with protection against UVA and UVB and apply a lot on the skin areas that are not covered with clothes every day, there are studies that indicate that they provide good protection against skin cancer.
Which sunscreen should you choose for children?
The important thing is to choose a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (preferably factor 50) that protects against both UVA and UVB. Physical or chemical filters are a matter of taste. As far as is known, the creams available on the market do not have dangerous side effects.
Sunscreen and vitamin D
We can synthesize vitamin D. The longer we stay out in the sun, the more vitamin D we synthesize. Vitamin D production does not seem to be affected much by sunscreen. But the amount of vitamin D produce decreases as our exposure to the sun decreases. The sad reality, however, is that it is difficult to get enough vitamin D in Sweden no matter what you do. Therefore, younger children should take vitamin D drops.
Do dark-skinned children need sunscreen?
Research on whether sunscreen is beneficial for really dark-skinned children is scarce. Children with dark skin have lesser risk of getting malignant skin cancer than fair-skinned children. But the research that exists, suggests that there are probably benefits of using sunscreen even on dark skin.
The darker colour protects against sunlight. In studies comparing people with fairer skin but with different degrees of fairness, the brightest, red-haired, green / blue-eyed people have the greatest risk of skin cancer and sunburn.
Skin of all colors and shades, age from the sun
Both fair and dark skin, age from sunlight and there are several non-cancerous skin diseases in dark skin that are caused by the sun. Shade and clothes are great for sun protection, regardless of skin color. Sunscreen protects the skin against aging (wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and blemished aging skin).
Protect babies from excessive heat!
Another thing to keep in mind when it is sunny is that babies are bad at regulating their body temperature. If parents do not adapt babies’ clothes with the temperature changes, and continue to put on that cute, knitted woollen cardigan and fixing the baby in a travel bag even when it is 25 degrees outside, the baby can easily over-heat. Babies that become too hot can become lethargic and may not want to eat. And if they are newborns, they can forget to breathe. Certainly, it is important that they are warm enough.
Black prams with a raised hood in the sun become very hot on the inside. Place them in the shade, away from stroller bunting bags and blankets. Use your hands to feel inside the stroller to see how hot it is.