Babies get sweaty all curled up in their blankets so parents may be tempted to dress them in clothing that is as ‘barely there’ as possible. However, when babies go out in the sun, parents will want their children’s arms to be protected from harmful rays.
This begs the question, do babies wear long sleeves in summer? Read on to find out how you should be protecting your child from the sun.
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Newborns and the Sun
The sun can be especially damaging to children under 6 months of age. This is because they haven’t yet developed melanin, a skin pigment that naturally provides sun protection. Furthermore, research has shown that children who are sunburned often at an early age run a higher risk of developing melanoma later in life.
Sunscreen is effective in protecting children from the sun, but it can irritate the skin of babies that are younger than 6 months old. Therefore, it is best to keep them out of the sun completely.
Of course, keeping your child out of the sun completely isn’t always possible. So when you ask, do babies wear long sleeves in the summer, the answer is yes. It’s a good idea to dress them in lightweight clothing that completely covers the skin including long sleeves, lightweight pants and hats with wide brims.
It’s also a good idea to keep your child out of the sun during peak sun hours (10AM – 4PM) and to try keep them on the shady side of the street whenever possible.
Remember, babies can also be exposed to the sun during car rides. Although front windows often have UV protection, front and side windows do not. To make sure your child is protected, you can buy a UV shield or put UV film over your car windows.
Protecting Older Children
Once your child is 6 months old, you can start them out on sunblock. Make sure to choose a product that is broad spectrum and water resistant and has an SPF of 15 or greater. You should also look for something that lists zinc oxide and titanium oxide as the active ingredients as these don’t have chemicals that absorb into the skin.
It’s possible that your baby may still be sensitive to sunblock so it’s a good idea to try some out on a small patch of your baby’s skin before applying it all over their body.
Sunblock should be applied generously and reapplied often. It should be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure so it has a chance to absorb into babys skin.
And remember, just because your child is wearing sunblock, it doesn’t mean he or she is safe from getting burned. So, if you ask, do babies wear long sleeves in summer? The answer, is still yes, even as they get older.
Sun Protection and Toddlers
As children get older, it will be harder to protect them. They will run around making it difficult for you to keep them in shady areas. They also may not want to hold still long enough for you to apply sunblock on them.
Fortunately, there are solutions to these problems.
Spray-on sunblock is a good option for toddlers who don’t like to sit still while having sunblock applied. The aerosol spray covers a good amount of skin and provides a no touch application so children have a bit of wiggle room.
There is also clothing you can buy that has ultraviolet protection. Look for clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 30 or more. This will allow only 1/30th of the sun rays to reach skin.
You can also try to keep toddlers out of the sun by scheduling their playtimes outside of peak sun hours.
Children of Every Color Need Sun Protection
Remember, children with darker skin will need sunblock as well.
People with darker skin are less likely to develop skin cancer, but skin cancer in these in these individuals is harder to detect. This means, when signs of skin cancer are found, they are often at a more advanced stage.
Parents should be especially careful of babies when they are younger and their melanin pigment is not fully developed.
Teaching Your Children Sun Protection at an Early Age Makes for Good Life Habits
When you protect your children from the sun at an early age, you are not only minimizing their risk of developing skin cancer, wrinkles and sunspots, you are encouraging good habits that last a lifetime.
Of course, there is no guarantee that your children will apply sunblock just because you encouraged sun protection when they were young. Bur research shows that they will be more likely to follow behaviors they have seen their parents demonstrating.
This can all be connected to neurons in the brain called mirror neurons. When we see someone engaging in a certain activity, our mirror neurons act in such a way that they make us think we are not only watching someone perform that activity, but that we are, in fact, performing that activity ourselves.
This suggests that learning occurs in a literal and figurative way and that feeling as if we are actually engaging in the behavior will make us more likely to repeat it in the future.
So if you are teaching your children to keep themselves safe from sun, they will be more likely to protect themselves from the sun as they get older and they will be more likely to protect their children from the sun in future years.
So back to the question, do babies wear long sleeves in the summer, the answer is yes. This is the best way to protect their skin. In fact, Keyvan Nouri, MD chief of dermatology services at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital and Clinics, says it’s “best to dress your baby regularly in a brimmed hat and lightweight clothing that fully covers the arms and legs.”
And if that’s not enough to convince you, I don’t know what will.