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Infant Sun Protection:
4 Simple Ways to Avoid Cancer Later On

Infant sun protection is a vital part of your parental duties this summer. Did you know that just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles the chances of developing skin cancer later in life? ...and that's the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) talking, not me.

The SCF also says that 22% of all children will burn in their first summer, followed by 54% in their second.

Here's the dilemma: You can't keep your baby swaddled in a dark corner all summer. The sun is the only major source of Vitmain D, an absolute essential for growing strong bones and keeping a healthy immune system. (Yes, I offer citations.)

Besides, in my opinion, indoor summer kids = cranky summer kids (and babies are no exception). The sun makes people happy.

A well-rested, well-fed infant is going to be ecstatic laying on a blanket outside, or in a patch of sunlight on the living room floor.

Remember those awesome summer days from yesteryear? When you could lie in the grass and feel the warm sun on your face and the light breeze in your hair? You can still grant those happy experiences to your children, guilt and worry-free.

Hence, this article. It's my job, as the Essential Infant Resource's chief writer and fellow-mother, to give you good, valid information you can quickly read, learn, and implement for proper infant sun protection all summer long.

4 Simple Things You Can Do
to Protect Your Baby from Skin Cancer Later in Life


number one
Limit Time in the Sun. Notice I said limit, not completely avoid. The sun is our best source for Vitamin D, an essential bone-building vitamin. (You can see why it is so important!) A fews hours outdoors is fine. Eight? Too much.

The younger the baby, the less direct sun exposure he should have. This is because infant skin younger than 6 months possess very little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair, and eyes and provides some basic infant sun protection.

Take your walks before 10 in the morning or after 4 in the afternoon, when the sun is not at its zenith. Still worried? You can easily check your area's local UV Index. Just go to http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html and put in your zip code.


    Side Note: Dark skinned babies are just as much in need for infant sun protection. Although their skin has more melanin than their white nursery-mates, they still have less melanin than older dark-skinned children.

    Also, the American Skin Cancer Foundation has reported that darker-skinned individuals are even more susceptible to malignant melanoma, the deadlist form of skin cancer. So take the time and effort to make infant sun protection part of your daily baby-care routine.


infant sun protection

A proper sun fighting arsenal should have:
a quality sunscreen, a real sun hat,
and sunglasses that can stay put.

number two

Provide Shade. If you're going to be outside, bring shade with you. Purchase a quality sun hat (girl or boy), or use a sun shade. Both are essential for any decent baby sun protection.

In a pinch once at my mother's house, we dug out a big umbrella and leaned it against the car seat outside. Anything is better than nothing.

The lighter your baby's eyes, the more sensitive they will be to the sun. Infant sunglasses aren't just for photos! They provide necessary infant sun protection (not to mention comfort) for developing healthy eyesight.

Yes, she will try to pull them off to gnaw on. Fortunately, I know a few tricks to keep them on her nose.

Although shades are helpful, they shouldn't be your only line of defense. Ultraviolet rays (those nasty UV rays you hear about) bounce around. They can reflect off sand, water, snow, buildings, bald heads... skin-on-protection is essential. Which brings us to...

number three

Use Sunscreen and Lightweight Clothing. The next layer of infant sun protection lies right against the skin. Dress your baby in lightweight, loose clothing that will breathe easily. For particularly sensitive babies, long-sleeves and pants will be a necessity.

Choose light-colored cloth (dark colors absorb light more, potentially causing dehydration). Cotton is a good fabric for baby sun protection that is still light enough in texture to avoid overheating.

For pool-side infant sun protection, nothing can beat beautiful spf-protective swimwear.

As for sunscreen, there are about a ba-zillion choices out there. I've narrowed down the must-have ingredients for all-natural infant sunscreens as well as guidelines for buying a truly useful traditional sunscreen. You can see my baby sunscreen research results here.

number four
Keep Him Hydrated. Besides considering your infant's skin when you go outside, the danger of dehydration should be on your radar. Dehydration is extremely serious for babies, but can be easily prevented.

If it's hot outside, bring an extra bottle of formula or nurse more often. If you're feeding your baby solids, give him a bottle of water (1-3 oz) to drink while he's eating.
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Citations, Citations

If I'm going to postulate a fact or make a claim, it's only fair that I share where I found it. That way you know I'm not making it up. And, lets face it, there are a LOT of people making up a LOT of things on the Internet these days. I happy to not be one of them. smiley

Skin Cancer Foundation. "Sun Protection for Babies and Toddlers" http://www.skincancer.org/Sun-Protection-for-Babies-and-Toddlers.html

Skin Cancer Foundation. "For Parents" http://www.skincancer.org/For-Parents/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Protecting Children from the Sun" http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/children.htm

Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D" http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp

American Academy of Pediatrics. "Sun Safety" http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/pages/Sun-Safety.aspx



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