Sunlight serves an important purpose in human bodies. It promotes good health and plays a major role in the production of the very essential vitamin; vitamin D. vitamin D is important for the growth of healthy, normal bones.
Growing evidence indicates that vitamin D affects about 3,000 of the roughly 30,000 genes in a human body. It is also thought to affect the vitamin D receptors, protect against some diseases such as osteoporosis and in optimal levels, play a part in preventing about 16 types of cancer. Despite its crucial role, overexposure to sunlight is not recommended and should be avoided both in adults and children. Overexposure has been linked to increased risk of getting skin cancer aside from the fact that it causes sunburns.
Due to the benefits, sunlight should not be completely avoided. It is important to practice safe exposure of children to sunlight so they get enough of it needed for production of vitamin D without getting sunburns. But how much of sunlight is enough for babies?
According to experts, those with fair skin need about 10 minutes outside in the sun everyday; while those with darker skin require a little more time in the sun. During these 10 minutes, it is best if the skin is left bare and without sunscreen since the absorption of the sun’s rays is affected by clothes and sunscreen. Give your baby about 10 minutes of direct sunlight every day.
Tips for protecting children from the sun
Because excessive exposure to sunlight is discouraged, it is important to protect your child from it while still ensuring they get just the amount they need. Below are some tips to help you protect your child’s skin from sun damage when they have had their recommended 10 minutes of direct exposure to the sun daily.
- Avoid the sun when it is at its hottest
From 11am to 3pm especially on days with little cloud cover, the sun is usually at its hottest. Schedule outdoor activities so that your child spends less time exposed to the sun.
- Cover your child as much as possible.
When you take your children out in the sun especially in the middle of the day, dress them in clothing that covers as much of their skin as possible. The clothes should be sewn from fabrics that are closely woven to provide additional protection. If possible, include a hat as well to protect their face.
- Encourage play in the shade
Where natural shade is not available, create a shade structure large enough to encourage especially preschool children to play in the shade away from direct sunlight.
- Use sunscreen
When you expect your children to spend a lot of time in the sun, apply sunscreen on the exposed parts of their bodies according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are not sure about which sunscreen is safest for your child, ask your pediatrician to recommend one for you.
- Practice sun safety in the car
Although the glass on your car provides some protection from the sun’s rays, your baby may still need additional protection especially on long trips. This is because the glass doesn’t offer total protection. Use window shades or tint the windows of your car to protect your baby. Information on this website is not medical or dental advice, its for general information only. For more accurate medical and dental information please contact your pediatrician and dentist.