safe motherhood


Babies and the sun

Babies and small children need special care out in the elements. Sun and wind can both burn their delicate skin. If you are out and aboutespecially abroad where even on cloudy days the sun's rays can be much fiercer than at homemake sure to keep your child protected. There is no such thing as a 'nice tan' on a tiny baby, since even tanning without burning is a sign of skin damage.

Even mild sunburn is painful for a baby and the skin damage sustained can cause problems later in life, as many incidences of skin cancer are thought to be related to sunburn in childhood.

Take these steps to protect your baby:

• Cover your baby up. Light-cotton long-sleeved t-shorts and trousers can be cooling and offer greater protection to the skin.
• Keep babies and children out of the sun, especially in the middle of the day when it is at its strongest, and protect them from the wind too.

• Use a high-factor sun cream (at least factor 25, and preferably a complete sun block). Re-apply it generously every two hours and before and after you take your baby swimming. Experts believe that on average we use three times less cream than is necessary for full protection.

• Get your baby a broad-brimmed sunhat and use the shade on your pram. If your buggy has just a small canopy you can buy clip-on sunshades or a parasol to keep the sun off your baby.

• If your child gets burnt, treat them with cool baths and calamine lotion. Liquid paracetamol (for babies over two months old; the dosage varies according to the age of your baby, so read the instructions on the pack carefully) is also helpful for the pain. If their skin is blistered consult a doctor.

• Give plenty of drinkseither breastfeeds or water when the weather is very warm to ensure that your baby does not become dehydrated.

• Babies and small children who are over-exposed to the sun can also get heat stroke. The symptoms are headache, nausea and vomiting. Babies can also seem drowsy and older children confused. Make sure that your child has plenty of liquids. If you are worried then call your doctor for advice.

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