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Protecting your baby from harmful UV rays

Be sure to keep your baby safe this summer

Be sure to keep your baby safe this summer

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    Sheryl Plouffe
    Weather Broadcaster, The Weather Network

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 11:52 AM -

    Baby skin is velvety soft and smooth as silk. It’s very different than grown-up skin. I can attest to that. Have a look at my medicine cabinet filled with potions and lotions that promise to return my skin to the way it looked and felt when I was young. For one thing, the outer layer of babies’ skin is thinner and absorbs more water than adult skin. It also has less pigment which helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light. It’s also more vulnerable to sunburn. The Canadian Pediatric Society warns that bad sunburns and too much time spent in the sun without skin protection have been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer later in life. Special care must be taken to ensure that babies are well protected from the sun. They should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible for the first six months. In order to do that, they need to be well-covered when in the sun and limit exposure during peak hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are many options available to keep baby covered up:

    Carrier sun covers:


    Sunscreen contains chemicals that protect the skin by absorbing and reflecting UV rays and allows a certain range of UV light to be absorbed into the skin. Look for Parsol 1789 in many of today's sunscreen brands. It helps protect against UVA rays as well as UVB. So, you get a bit more protection. Babies under 6 months should only wear sunscreen on the face and back of the hands. Look for brands made especially for children with a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, of at least 30. Be aware that on a cloudy day, UV rays can still damage skin. It’s not the heat that burns, it’s the UV.


    Sunblock contains physical or inorganic ingredients that reflect and scatter the UVB light and acts as a wall between your skin and the sun. Look for Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient. Note that sunblocks do not protect against UVA rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are less irritating than Parsol 1789 found in sunscreen so they’re a good choice for sensitive skin.

    How should you apply it?

    A pediatric dermatologist shows you how to choose safe sunscreen for your baby and apply it properly.

    Additional tips to keep your baby safe in the sun:

    • Protective clothing: Cover your baby in loose cotton clothing and make sure they’re wearing a hat with a wide brim and back flap preferably. Some marketed sun protection clothing is made from special treated fabric with a UV protection factor of 50+.
    • Sunglasses: Eyes should be protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Look for broad spectrum 100% UV protection.
    • Umbrella: Make sure favourite play areas have a shady spot or bring along a sun umbrella.
    • Window film: Window film blocks up to 99% of UV rays and reflect more than 78% of the sun's heat.
    • Car window shades: These are also known as roller shades or sun shades.
    • Stroller sun shade: Check with the manufacturer of your stroller for available sun shade options. Some versions also are available with mosquito netting.
    • Play shades and tents: These are available in UV treated materials and fabrics.

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