Slip, Slop, Slap has become part of the Australian vernacular since it was introduced by the Cancer Council in 1981. As an adult you may be aware that exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and lead to skin damage, eye damage and skin cancer. 

We all need a little sun to get the benefits of Vitamin D, but how much is safe and how do you protect your baby from ultraviolet radiation? 

Can babies under 6 months use sunscreen? 

Absorption of chemicals through the skin is just one of the ways babies and children get exposed to indoor pollutants. To minimise chemical exposure, it is not recommended to use sunscreen of any kind on babies under 6 months of age. The best sun protection is to follow these simple rules. 

  • Ultraviolet radiation levels are highest between about 9 am and 4 pm even on overcast days. Take babies outdoors in the early morning or late afternoon. 
  • If you are outside, don’t cover the pram with a blanket as this can raise your baby’s body temperature much like leaving it shut in a car. Loose woven cloth will let in some air but also the sun – so limit exposure time. 
  • If staying outdoors use sun-protective clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating of 50+ such as a baby romper suit.  
  • Bucket hats give better protection but watch out for elastic or straps which could wrap around baby’s neck. 
  • Picnic in dense shade – where there is a dark shadow but beware that sun reflects off surfaces such as sand, water or concrete. 

How to minimise sun exposure for babies over 6 months 

Making sun safety a part of everyday life has proven to be successful. ‘No hat No play’ is used in schools and childcare centres and also works at home. Other things you can do are: 

  • Once your baby reaches 6 months look for a sunscreen labelled for babies and sensitive skin and test it on them to check if they have a reaction. 
  • Parents are a role model for their children so ensure you wear sunscreen yourself and apply 20 minutes before heading out and reapply every 2 hours. 
  • Sunglasses are a must and should meet Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003. Look for a wraparound style as soon as they are big enough to fit them. 

Need some advice? 

Kidsafe Qld’s mission is to provide evidence-based practical advice to empower parents and caregivers to make informed choices to prevent childhood injuries. We are at your service and welcome any questions you might have around injury prevention and keeping kids safe at home, on the road and at play. 
 
Call 3854 1829