Your child’s lifelong risk of melanoma is strongly linked to sunburns in childhood, so heed these tips.
* Cover her up. Dress your baby in pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a hat with a tight weave—the clothes should let in little light. If you’re outdoors a lot, you may want to invest in sun-protective apparel (see “Duds That Deliver,” above right).
* Watch the time. Ultraviolet light is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so enjoy your early morning hikes or dinner (not lunch) al fresco. And always shade your baby under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy—this will help protect against overheating as well.
* Use sunscreen wisely. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s OK to apply sun-screen to small areas that can’t be covered with clothing, such as the face or the tops of bare feet; this is even true for newborns. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium oxide are good choices as they’re least likely to be absorbed into the bloodstream, says Jerome A. Paulson, M.D., a member of the AAP’s Committee on Environmental Health. Choose one with an SPF 30 or higher and look for the words “broad spectrum,” which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
* Don’t forget sunglasses. Cumulative sun exposure can lead to cataracts in adulthood, research shows. Glasses should indicate that they block 97 percent or 99 percent of full-spectrum ultraviolet light, says Paulson.