Ask The Pediatrician: How Do I Protect Baby From Sunburns And Bug Bites?

Tents in trees by a lake

Meet Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto MD, MPH, official spokespeople for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-authors of The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. Each month, they’ll write about the latest AAP guidelines, studies and seasonal issues affecting babies and toddlers. Follow them on Instagram @pediatriciansguide.

It’s getting hot out there! With the start of summer, vacation and beach time, we wanted to share tips on how to keep your babies burn- and bug bite-free.

Sun Safety

Babies under 6 months old have thinner, more delicate skin. For this age group, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends staying out of both direct and indiret sunlight to avoid sunburns and heatstroke. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors.

  • Try keeping babies in the shade of an umbrella, tree or stroller canopy as much as possible
  • Avoid tying a blanket over a stroller for extra coverage, because that can trap heat in and become dangerous
  • Dress babies in lightweight clothing with long sleeves and pants and wide-brimmed hats that shade the ears and neck
  • If avoiding the sun is not possible, sunblock can be applied to small areas of exposed skin such as the face and hands

Babies and toddlers over 6 months old are still advised to stay in the shade or under an umbrella as much as possible. If you’re at the beach, remember to position your child under the center of the umbrella to protect them from the sun. We have seen children who have gotten burned just on the side of their body exposed to the sun.

  • Try to limit sun exposure during peak times: from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Dress babies in lightweight, light-colored clothing. Long sleeves and pants with tight weaves or with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) should be worn when possible
  • Accessorize with hats with 3-inch brims and sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection
  • Sunscreen that is broad spectrum with UVA/UVB protection and an SPF of 15 or greater (more research needs to be done to determine if SPF 50 or greater offers any added protection) should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied after two hours, as well as after swimming or sweating

Although using any sunscreen at all is important, there are some concerns about the ingredient oxybenzone. Sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide are preferable ingredients….

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