With summer coming in hot, play dates outside and days at the beach are hitting your calendar in full force. And if you've got kids, the worry of keeping them safe in the sun is also coming in full force. The most important question to address come the sunny season is: How long can babies be out in the sun?
I spoke to Dr. Julie Karen of CompleteSkinMD in June about ways to keep kids safe in the sun this summer, and she had a lot to say on the matter. According to Karen, babies under the age of six months should not be in the sun, point blank. Karen realizes, however, that this is nearly impossible to achieve, and recommends several measures in keeping them safe while in the sun. Sun protective clothing is your first and foremost protection for babies in the sun. But it's important to remember that babies can't thermoregulate the way that adults do, so you need to limit their sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest. According to Bernard A. Cohen, author of Pediatric Dermatology, babies skin is less pigmented, and therefore more susceptible to sunburn. Don't count the sun out outside of those important hours, though. Your baby can still suffer from a sunburn when it's cloudy, and when the sun's rays aren't at their strongest.
But how long is too long? The truth is, it varies on the sun's rays and on how you're protecting your child. According to the March of Dimes, babies can get a sunburn after just 15 minutes in the sun. A good rule of thumb when trying to decipher whether or not your child has been in the sun for too long, is if your baby looks red, or is experiencing itchy skin, that's a surefire sign that your babe has been in the sun for too long.
After six months, sunscreen is an a good way to help keep your kids safe from the sun. You'll want to look for a broad spectrum blend, which the Mayo Clinic recommends as the best sunscreen option for everyone, not just children. Broad spectrum protects skin from both UVA and UVB rays, which are responsible for both short term and long term skin damage.
Unfortunately, there's no specific amount of time recommended for babies to be in the sun. In order to protect them from the sun's rays, you'll want to keep them in the shade as much as possible, and check on them often as your day in the sun progresses.