Baby skin is extremely sensitive. From needing to find the right laundry detergent to managing diaper rashes, it seems like parents are always managing some skin issue on behalf of their little one.

Protecting a baby’s skin from the sun is extremely important and it’s something that, unfortunately, can have lasting consequences. There’s been a lot of information released over the past few years about sun exposure so we’ve condensed the information on this issue to help make things easier for new parents:

Risks to Skin

A new baby’s skin is so much thinner than that of an older child or adult – thus it is more vulnerable to the sun’s rays. As a result, it doesn’t take long for babies to get a serious sunburn which can include blisters and other damage. This is true even when it’s cloudy or overcast. Early overexposure can lead to toughening of the skin, freckling, wrinkles and skin cancer later in life.

Signs of Sunburn

Just 15 minutes of exposure to the sun can cause a mild sunburn that may not show up for 6-12 hours. The most common symptoms include red, warm, itchy and/or painful patches of skin. To give your baby relief, give them a cool (not cold) bath, apply aloe vera gel and provide pain relievers such as acetaminophen as needed.

More severe sunburns will cover a larger portion of the body, will be very painful, may include blisters and could cause your baby to experience fever/chills, headache, confusion, nausea, swollen face, or dehydration. If your child seems to be suffering from a serious sunburn, it’s best to seek medical care immediately since they may require hospitalization.

Risks to Eyes

Sadly, the sun can cause damage to more than a baby’s skin. Young infants under the age of six months old are especially vulnerable to damage to their eyes but, usually, this happens gradually and can build up over time. Failing to protect your child’s eyes from the sun can result in cancer of the eyelid, cataracts, sunburned corneas and macular degeneration.

Cover Skin and Eyes

A wide brimmed hat is an adorable way to shield your baby’s eyes and face from the glaring rays of the sun. You can also pick up a pair of baby sunglasses but look for those that offer 99% UV protection. Also, dress your baby in lightweight clothing that covers arms and legs to prevent sunburn.

Use Sunscreen

If your baby is under six months old, sunscreen is not recommended. Instead, stick with using hats, sunglasses and clothing to protect his or her eyes and skin. For baby’s over six months old, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before leaving home and every two hours while you’re out – even on cloudy days.

Right Time of Day

There are times of day that are more harmful than others. It’s best to avoid taking baby out in the sun between 10am and 4pm since this is when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you must go out, keep your baby in the shade under trees and umbrellas or by installing a sun deflector on the window of your vehicle. Again, this is especially important for very young infants.

It can be easy to get in a rush and not plan ahead for protecting a baby’s skin from the sun but establishing a routine and sticking to it will make it easier. It may be one more thing to remember but it’s entirely worth it!