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Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life. According to one U.S. study, 54 percent of children become sunburned or tanned in their second summer, as compared with 22 percent in their first summer.
Below are The Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendations for protecting young children against sun damage.
Infants 0-6 months
Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen.
Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct sunlight from coming in through the windows of the car or invest in UV window film.
Take walks early in the morning before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. and use a stroller with a sun-protective cover.
Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects the baby’s face, neck,
Babies 6-12 months can safely wear sunscreen. At least 30 minutes before going out, apply a broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered, such as baby’s hands.
Water-resistant, spray-on sunscreens are a good choice for toddlers who won’t sit still. Look for sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher with some combination of the following UVA ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. Mexoryl), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Make sure the child seeks the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Make sure toddlers are covered. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing is cool and comfortable, while also highly protective.
Don’t forget hats and sunglasses.
To learn more about the Foundation and its programs, visit www.skincancer.org.