Rhonda Patt

Ask the pediatrician: Infants & sunscreen

Keeping infants out of the sun during peak hours is the safest bet when traveling to the beach with a baby.
Keeping infants out of the sun during peak hours is the safest bet when traveling to the beach with a baby. KRT

I have a 4 month-old infant and plan to go to the beach this month. I have read that infants who are less than 6 months old should not wear sunscreen. Do you have any advice about traveling to the beach with an infant?

Traveling with an infant can often be challenging especially when traveling to places with extreme temperatures- hot or cold. Infants are at an increased risk of over-heating and sunburn. Beach travel can still be fun, but will be quite different than traveling alone.

When possible, infants younger than 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun- particularly between the hours of 10am and 4pm because ultraviolet rays are the strongest during these hours. Shade, hats and sun-protective clothing provide an alternative to sunscreen.

If an infant who is nearly 6 months of age needs to wear sunscreen, it should be applied only to exposed areas. The best option would be a sunblock that is fragrance-free and contains only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. (Neutrogena Pure Baby is one option)

If an infant is placed in the shade, parents need to be aware that the baby is still at risk for over-heating. For this reason, babies should spend only short periods of time outside on hot days. Breastfed babies may need to nurse more frequently on hot days and bottle-fed babies may drink formula more frequently as well due to increased thirst.

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