Sun Protective Clothing for Babies and Toddlers
Our infant sun protection clothing is for babies from 6 to 24 months old. These baby sun protection styles are designed for play and swim. Our SPF infant clothing is made from our lightweight lite SUNTECT® while our swimwear is made from our colorful, chlorine-resistant fabric, aqua SUNTECT®. Both fabrics block 98% UV (UPF 50+).
Baby Sun Protection
Babies' skin is extremely sensitive and can burn easily. As they grow, 23 percent of our children's lifetime exposure will happen before the age of 18 (Godar, 2001). While 23 percent is not as much as the widely quoted figure of 80 percent (now shown to be a misinterpretation), the potential damage from overexposure to the sun is significant and can be compounded by subsequent exposure later in life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now advises against using sunscreen alone to protect children from UVR exposure. Children should be protected from exposure to UVR by using sunscreen combined with infant sun protection clothing, sun hats, sunglasses, avoidance and shade. This combination should be used from their very first day and continued throughout their lives. Before we list these strategies we want to address one common concern:
What About Vitamin D?
Some parents are concerned that if their babies and children are protected from the sun they won't produce enough vitamin D. This is a valid concern as Vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin", is essential for strong bones and calcium absorption. However, a study by Hurwitz (1988) found that only a few minutes of exposure to UVR, two to three times a week, is sufficient for adequate vitamin D production.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also addressed this issue (Gartner L, et al, 2003) and recommends that all infants from 2 months old, children and adolescents receive 200 IU of vitamin D per day. Infant formulas and cow's milk are fortified with vitamin D at these levels. Vitamin D supplements, in drop or tablet form, are available over-the-counter as part of multivitamin preparations, but you should ask your pediatrician if they are needed. Too much vitamin D can be toxic.
Generally, sensible baby sun protection should not put you or your children at risk of vitamin D deficiency. The following strategies will help protect your baby from the negative effects of UVR.
Avoid Peak UV Times
Start a daily habit of checking the UV index for the area where you live. The National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency both provide a daily UV Index which predicts peak UVR for the following day. Based on this forecast, you can organize your day to avoid exposing your baby to direct sunlight during the peak UV times. For example, take your baby for a walk early in the morning or late in the afternoon and plan indoor activities or activities in the shade for the middle of the day.
Cover Your Baby's Skin
Cover your baby's skin for the best sun protection. Dress your baby in loose fitting outfits that cover arms and legs. Baby outfits made from sun protective material material tested for an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of 30+, are the best protection. Clothing made with natural fibers and a tight weave can be used as an alternative, but does not offer guaranteed protection. For example, a T-shirt may only provide a UPF of 5 to 10. Always make sure clothing used for sun protection for your baby covers arms and legs and is loose fitting for ventilation, such as our baby girl sun clothing or uv swimwear like the baby boy sun clothing.
Choose a baby sun hat that protects the baby's face, neck and ears and will crumple easily when your baby puts his/her head down, such as our infant bucket hat. This will protect the back of your baby's neck and ears. It also provides better cover for the side of your baby's face. Wearing a hat during the first few months will protect babies while getting him/her used to having it on. As toddlers, your child will be less likely to resist putting a sun hat on. Always make sure your baby is not too hot.
Babies are at risk for sunburn even when they are in the shade. UVR is reflected onto the skin from surfaces such as buildings, concrete, sand and water.
Seek out shade but be sure to use other sun protection methods as well. There are many different types of structures that you can purchase to add shade to your backyard or patio, or take with you to the beach. Sun umbrellas, tents, cabanas, lean-tos and some stretched materials all provide shade. The best shade is provided by structures with sides, such as our UV Protector.
Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Baby
Infants under six months of age should be kept out of direct sun and covered by protective clothing. However, if prolonged exposure does occur, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using sunscreen on the small areas of the baby's body that are not already covered by a hat and clothing. According to Marks (1996), there is no evidence that using sunscreen on infants is harmful.
- Always test the sunscreen on a small area of the baby's skin before using it. Wash it off and do not use it if there is any skin reaction such as a rash, reddening or spots. Try other sunscreen until one is found that does not cause a reaction.
- Sunscreen (SPF 30+), such as Blue Lizard Baby, should be applied 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every 2 hours, or more often if it has been wiped or rubbed off.
- Do not use a sunscreen that is past its use-by date or does not have a use-by date.
Infant and Baby Sunglasses
Sunglasses can be difficult for a young baby. However, eyes can be damaged by UVR exposure and the earlier good habits are started the better. Look for quality infant sunglasses that block 99.5% or more UVA and UVB, such as our Cool Shadz.
Around Town with Your Baby
It doesn't take much to develop habits that will help protect your baby from UVR exposure. It does, however, require a small amount of pre-planning and, as you may not be accustomed to making these provisions, it is a good idea to make a checklist.
- Pack a "baby bag" and leave it ready for any outing. Most parents carry some kind of baby bag when taking their babies on errands, to visit friends and relatives or even to go jogging. It is easy to keep baby sun protection items in the bag, and a good habit. Include the following items and you will be ready to protect your baby
1. a baby blanket or sheet;
2. a light shawl;
3. a soft bucket style baby sun hat (soft hat with all-around brim, such as our infant bucket hat);
4. a baggy jump suit that covers legs and arms;
5. baby sunscreen.
- While in the car, shield the baby from direct sunlight coming in through the side window.
- When purchasing a pram, pusher or stroller, check that the hood position can be altered so that it can be moved to block out the direct sun.
- Keep a small light sheet in the stroller so it can be draped over the bonnet and bassinet to block out direct sunlight. This will need to be supervised at all times to make sure the sheet does not drop onto the baby and that the stroller remains well ventilated.
- A portable sun umbrella, beach cabana or sun tent can be left in the trunk of the car so it is always available for picnics, or outdoor visits. A shade structure that includes a roof and sides offers much better protection than a structure with a roof only.
- Try to find shady places to sit with the baby when outside, but remember to keep the baby covered up as well. Shade does not always block all UVR.