Sunscreen

Here’s a quick recap of current sun safety recommendations:

Babies under 6 months: seek the shade of trees, an umbrella or the stroller canopy. Use sunscreen on small areas that can’t be covered.

Over six months? Australia’s Slip! Slop! Slap! campaign is tops. See a vintage clip here.

Slip on light, loose, protective clothing. Tightly woven fabric blocks the sun best.

Slop on sunscreen.

Slap on a hat.

Pick a sunscreen that says broad spectrum that will block UVA and UVB. Products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work best—try for at least 4% of these ingredients—and are perfect for sensitive areas like the face, nose, shoulders.

Look for an SPF of 15 or higher. A newer system awards 1 to 4 starts for how well the product works. Skin Deep, the Cosmetics Safety Database from Environmental Working Group, rates sunscreens for safety here. Sunscreen should be applied 15-30 minutes before going out into the sun and again every 2 hours.

For pool and ocean, it’s hard to beat rash guard swim tops for protection. Even better, your older child should be able to apply sunscreen to all the areas the top doesn’t cover by themselves, but it’s always a good idea to check their work.

About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at WebMD.com, Rx.com, and MyLifePath.com. She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. BabyCenter.com currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit www.LMAsta.com
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