Water babies at the beach have it made if there's shade


August 09, 1994|By Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe | Dr. Modena Wilson and Dr. Alain Joffe,Special to The Sun

Q: My husband and I are the proud parents of a 6-week-old baby boy. We're planning to go to the beach soon and are concerned about having him in the sun. What are your suggestions?

A: Babies can sunburn quickly and severely, so it will be important to take extra care with your little one. We suggest that you avoid taking your baby to the beach for the four midday hours when the sun is the brightest. Shade him with a beach umbrella. Place it carefully, remembering that the sun's rays reflect off sand and water. If you want to take your baby on a stroll along the beach, dress him in loose cotton clothes that cover arms and legs. Select for his head a wide-brimmed hat or keep a light cloth over it. Remember that the head is the biggest part of a baby, consequently a sunburn of the head would be a big burn! We believe it is probably better to limit sun exposure for a young infant than to apply sunscreen. Sunscreen might falsely reassure you into leaving him in the sun too long. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 will be an important part of your son's beach vacation next year, however. At any age, it is wise to be cautious about bare skin (and unshaded eyes) in the sun.

Dr. Wilson is director of general pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Dr. Joffe is director of adolescent medicine.

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