Your baby can get a sunburn after only 15 minutes in the sun, according to the March of Dimes, and it may not appear until as many as 12 hours after exposure. Keeping her under wraps can protect her from uncomfortable burns and lasting damage to her skin and eyes. Establishing healthy skin care habits now will benefit her over a lifetime of sunny days.
The ultraviolet rays of the sun are most dangerous between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That doesn't mean you can't run errands during the day, but aim to schedule park trips, zoo visits and walks outside of those hours. Schedule your baby's naps so she's wide awake for outings before 10 and after 4 and does all her napping in between. Feed her just before or during an outdoor excursion to prevent dehydration.
Dress the Part
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months of age unless you don't have access to shade or protective clothing. Until she's ready for sunscreen, cover as much of your baby's skin as you can when heading outdoors. Hold up lightweight cotton pants and shirts to a lamp and dress her in the pieces that don't allow light to shine through. These tightly woven fabrics will keep out sun too. Choose a hat with a 3-inch brim all the way around.
Choose the Right Sunscreen
When your baby is old enough for sunscreen, it should be applied every two hours. Some products will expose your baby's delicate system to too many chemicals. Avoid combining sunscreen and insect repellents that contain DEET. "Consumer Reports" warns against using spray sunscreen, at least until the Food and Drug Administration completes an investigation into the safety of these products. Any product you use on your baby should have a minimum sun protection factor of 15 and protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Though the inside of your home and car may be cool, your infant may still be exposed to the sun while inside. Move her crib away from any windows and close the shades when she sleeps. If she spends a lot of time strapped into her car seat, attach a car sun shade to the window next to her seat or cover the windows and rear windshield with clear UV-protective film. While all of a car's windows block UVB rays, only the windshield is typically treated to block UVA rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.