Protecting Infants And Young Children From The Sun

In which month is sun protection for infants and young children especially important?

a) June b) July c) August d) September

1. The (maybe surprising) answer: a) June. Many adults erroneously associate sun problems with hot weather and believe that serious sun protection is not necessary until the hot summer months of July and August. In fact, the weather has nothing to do with sun intensity.  In June, the sun is directly overhead and the sun shines more hours a day, resulting in more exposure. Also, in June protective tans from the previous summer have vanished, leaving children (and adults) somewhat more vulnerable to burning.

Here some facts about protecting kids:

2. Infants’ skin is especially prone to sun damage. Their skin is thinner and contains less melanin, the substance in skin that blocks harmful ultraviolet rays. Keep infants less than 6 months of age out of the sun. If exposure is unavoidable, dress them in clothing that covers their bodies. Include wide brims hats to shadow their faces. If sun exposure is unavoidable, make the exposure period brief and use the same protective measures (clothing and sunscreens) used for older children. Using sunscreens is safer than risking sunburns.

3. Tanning is unhealthy. Tans are mild sunburns. The immediate damage is imperceptible. Generally, even sunburns heal promptly and leave no visible scarring. Don’t let this lull you into complacency. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes irreversible damage to the DNA in skin cells. The damage is cumulative for life. Deliberate tanning to prevent burning is counterproductive; frequent tanning may cause more cumulative damage than an occasional sunburn. Common skin damage includes wrinkling and skin cancer, often melanoma, a very aggressive type of cancer. One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence almost doubles the risk of developing a melanoma.

4. Summer vacations tend to increase sun exposure. Vacations increase time spent outdoors, often at beaches or around pools, while wearing flimsy attire. Families travel to tropical and mountain resorts where UV radiation is more intense. Traditional “protective” beach apparel – white T-shirts, for example, especially when wet – provide virtually no protection. Clothing that is virtually 100% protective is available. The more skin covered by such clothing, the greater the protection and the less the need for sunscreens. Note that bodies of water reflect UV rays, virtually doubling the amount of UV radiation reaching you. Also, UV radiation penetrates three feet (one meter) of water, placing water-sport participants at higher risk.

5. Car rides can lead to unintended sun exposure. Ultraviolet Type A radiation (UV-A) penetrates car window glass and damages skin DNA, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. In the US, by law, front windshields are treated to filter out most UV-A, but side and rear windows generally aren’t. Consider buying a UV-A shield, which you can hang over any window that allows sunlight to reach the child’s car seat. Or, consider professional protective window film (but check local regulations for these). Otherwise, it’s best for infants to wear sun-protective clothing in cars.

6. Familiarize yourself with the UV Index. Daily readings of sun intensity are available on the web for every location in many countries. Forecasts include predictions for the next few days and recommendations for minimizing skin damage based on the day’s sun intensity. In the US, see

7. Eye protection is as important as skin protection. Infants’ eyes absorb more harmful radiation than do adults’. Ideally, infants should wear sunglasses or stay out of the sun to reduce the risk of cataracts in later life. Get sunglasses that wrap around towards the ears to protect the sensitive skin of the eyelids. Avoid “fun” or “novelty” sunglasses. These are marketed for young children for fun but offer no protection. Buy sunglasses at reputable stores that sell eyeglasses. (Convincing infants to keep sunglasses on is challenging. See for tips.)

8. Other protective measures. Hats with four-inch brims help protect the eyes, neck, and forehead. Being in the shade of a building but having a blue sky or fluffy white clouds directly above offers little protection. Being under a beach umbrella protects from direct radiation but allows considerable radiation reflected from water and sand. Have sunshades on strollers; some specifically block radiation. Dirt, grass, and concrete reflect comparatively little radiation.

9. There is no need to expose children to the sun to maintain healthy bones. True, the sun’s UV radiation enables the skin to absorb Vitamin D. In turn, vitamin D allows the intestine to absorb calcium from food. Calcium is necessary for strong, healthy bones, especially in young children. However, studies show that the necessary exposure time to the sun to absorb Vitamin D in otherwise healthy children is so minimal that no special time period needs to be set aside for this purpose. Moreover, many foods are fortified with Vitamin D.

10. African-American children also need protection from the sun. It is a misconception that children with much melanin in their skin are immune from sun damage. While the incidence of skin cancer in this group is very low, parents must be especially vigilant. The darker the skin the more difficult it is to spot skin abnormalities.

Healthy Eating Strategies for Infants and Toddlers

CDC Launches Website on Infant and Toddler Nutrition

Good nutrition during the first 2 years of life is vital for healthy growth and development. Children grow and develop every day. As they grow older, their nutrition needs change. Children with healthier eating patterns during their first year of life are more likely to have a healthier eating pattern later on. Yet too many children are not eating a healthy diet.

Among U.S. children between 1 to 2 years of age:

  • 15% are iron deficient,
  • Fewer than half ate a vegetable on a given day, and
  • More than 3 out of 10 children drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day.

Credible information about infant and toddler nutrition is important for parents and caregivers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing parents of young children with this nutrition information to help infants and toddlers get a healthy start in life. CDC recently released a website that brings together existing information and practical strategies on developing healthy eating patterns for infants and toddlers, from birth to 24 months of age.

Safe Sleep

Inclined Sleepers

Inclined Sleeper with Don't Sign

Sometimes parents unknowingly allow their baby to sleep in a space that is not safe. These items may even be sold as a sleep space or recommended by other parents or health care providers, despite their dangerous risk for sleep-related death.

One of these items is inclined sleepers. These products are sometimes called infant sleepers, newborn loungers, or infant nappers and some come as an attachment to a play yard. Despite the names, these products are not safe for sleep.

Inclined Sleeper on Play Yard with Don't Sign

These products are not safe for sleeping because they allow your baby to sleep on an incline. When sleeping on an incline, your baby's head will likely slump or fall to one side which can cause his or her airway to become squeezed causing your baby to not be able to breathe. The straps can also become a strangulation hazard.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a firm, flat sleep surface for your baby. A crib, portable crib, bassinet, or play yard that follows the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommended. If your baby falls asleep in an inclined sleeper, he or she should be moved to a crib, portable crib, bassinet or play yard as soon as it is safe and practical.

For more information on infant safe sleep, visit

Fireworks Safety

What Are the Dangers of Fireworks?

If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home — period. Attend public fireworks displays, and leave the lighting to the professionals.

Lighting fireworks at home aren't even legal in many areas, so if you still want to use them, be sure to check with your local police department first.

Fireworks Safety Tips

If fireworks are legal where you live, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Kids should never play with fireworks. Things like firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers are just too dangerous. If you give kids sparklers, make sure they keep them outside and away from the face, clothing, and hair. Sparklers can reach 1,800°F (982°C) — hot enough to melt gold.
  • Buy only legal fireworks (legal fireworks have a label with the manufacturer's name and directions; illegal ones are unlabeled), and store them in a cool, dry place. Illegal fireworks usually go by the names M-80, M100, blockbuster, or quarterpounder. These explosives were banned in 1966, but still, account for many fireworks injuries.
  • Never try to make your own fireworks.
  • Always use fireworks outside and have a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of accidents.
  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks. They can backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a joke.
  • Don't hold fireworks in your hand or have any part of your body over them while lighting. Wear eye protection, and don't carry fireworks in your pocket — the friction could set them off.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush and leaves and flammable substances. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that local fire departments respond to more 50,000 fires caused by fireworks each year.
  • Light one firework at a time (not in glass or metal containers), and never relight a dud.
  • Don't allow kids to pick up pieces of fireworks after an event. Some may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • Soak all fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash can.
  • Think about your pet. Animals have sensitive ears and can be very frightened or stressed by the Fourth of July and other big celebrations. Keep pets indoors to reduce the risk that they'll run loose or get injured.

If an Injury Happens

If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital.

If an eye injury happens:

  • Don't let your child touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.
  • Don't flush the eye out with water or try to put any ointment on it.
  • Cut out the bottom of a paper cup, place it around the eye, and get medical care right away — your child's eyesight may depend on it.

If your child is burned:

  • Remove clothing from the burned area.
  • Call your doctor immediately.

Fireworks are meant to be enjoyed, but you'll enjoy them much more knowing your family is safe.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD

Heat Illnesses

Protecting Your Child From Dehydration and Heat Illness

With the hot days of summer come summer sports -- baseball, tennis, football practice -- both in the neighborhood and at camp. Before you send the kids out to practice -- or just for a long day of play in the sun -- learn to protect your child against the dangers of dehydration and heat illness. WebMD turned to Albert C. Hergenroeder, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and chief of
the sports medicine clinic at Texas Children's Hospital, for answers to parents' common questions.

1. What puts my child at risk for dehydration?

The same things that put you at risk for dehydration: prolonged exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity, without sufficient rest and fluids. The difference is that a child's body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult's, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness.

2. What signs of dehydration should we watch for?

Early signs of dehydration include fatigue, thirst, dry lips and tongue, lack of energy, and feeling overheated. But if kids wait to drink until they feel thirsty, they're already dehydrated. Thirst doesn't really kick in until a child has lost 2% of his or her body weight as sweat.

Untreated dehydration can lead to three worse types of heat illness:

Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke require immediate care. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that, when untreated, can be deadly. Any child with heat stroke should be rushed to the nearest hospital.

3. What can I do to prevent dehydration in my child?

Make sure they drink cool water early and often. Send your child out to practice or play fully hydrated. Then, during play, make sure your child takes regular breaks to drink fluid, even if your child isn't thirsty. A good size drink for a child, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is 5 ounces of cold tap water for a child weighing 88 pounds, and nine ounces for a teen weighing 132 pounds. One ounce is about two kid-size gulps.

Get them acclimatized before summer practice. "If you're going to send your kid off to tennis camp, they shouldn't be sitting around doing nothing in May and then going out to play tennis eight hours a day in June," says Hergenroeder. "They should be outdoors jogging, riding a bike, and otherwise slowly building up their fitness and ability to handle the heat." The fitter children are, the sooner their bodies will start to sweat after beginning to exercise -- and that's a good thing!

Know that dehydration is cumulative. If your child is 1% or 2% dehydrated on Monday and doesn't drink enough fluids that night, then gets 1% or 2% dehydrated again on Tuesday, that means your child is 3% or 4% dehydrated at the end of the day. "They may be gradually developing a problem, but it won't show up for several days," says Hergenroeder. "You should always monitor your child's hydration." One way to do this: weigh your child before and after practice. If his weight drops, he's not drinking enough during his workout.

A simple rule of thumb: if your child's urine is dark in color, rather than clear or light yellow, he or she may be becoming dehydrated.

4. If my child develops heat illness, what can I do to treat it?

The first thing you should do with any heat illness is to get the child out of the sun into a cool, comfortable place. Have the child start drinking plenty of cool fluids. The child should also take off any excess layers of clothing or bulky equipment. You can put cool, wet cloths on overheated skin. In cases of heat cramps, gentle stretches to the affected muscle should relieve the pain.

Kids with heat exhaustion should be treated in the same way but should not be allowed back on the field the same day. Monitor your child even more carefully, Hergenroeder says. If your child doesn't improve, or can't take fluids, see a doctor.

Heat stroke is always an emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

5. Are some children more prone to dehydration or heat illness than others?

Yes, says Hergenroeder. One of the biggest risk factors: a previous episode of dehydration or heat illness. Other factors that can put your child at greater risk for heat illness include obesity, recent illness (especially if the child has been vomiting or has had diarrhea), and use of antihistamines or diuretics.

Lack of acclimatization to hot weather and exercising beyond their level of fitness can also lead to heat illness in young athletes. "If a young player isn't in shape and tries to go out and do things quickly to 'make the team' -- or goes to summer practice or summer camp and hasn't been used to that kind of heat and humidity and duration of exercise -- that sets them up for dehydration and heat illness," Hergenroeder says.

6. Is it ever too hot for my child to practice or play sports?

A growing number of athletic programs suggest that it is sometimes too hot to practice. In fact, many are restricting outdoor practice when the National Weather Service's heat index rises above a certain temperature. The heat index, measured in degrees Fahrenheit, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when the relative humidity is added to the actual temperature.

The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) offers information and guidelines for parents and coaches on their website.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on August 11, 2017



Infant Safe Sleep

Dads Can Help Baby Sleep Safe

Did you know that dads today spend triple the time caring for their children as dads did 50 years ago? Making sure dads with infants know how to reduce the risk of sleep-related infant death is more important than ever. Learn how dads can keep baby safe during sleep.

For more information on infant safe sleep, visit

Safe Sleep Message with image of sleeping baby

Check out the New ParentFurther: An Online Resource
for Strengthening the Relationships that Matter Most in Families

The website features quick quizzes, conversation starters, and activities that bring to life new research on family relationships and youth development. 

The new offers more than 100 brief, meaningful activities for families that emphasize how kids and parenting adults can learn, grow, and enjoy time together. Each activity focuses on strengthening family relationships and developing attitudes and skills that young people need to overcome challenges and thrive in life.

ParentFurther is a resource for individual families, but it is also a virtual hub for schools and other organizations to enhance their work with families. 

To learn more about the Safe Delivery Law, visit or call the toll-free 24-hour hotline at 866-733-7733.


Infant Safe Sleep


As the weather begins to warm up, it is important that babies don't get overheated. Overheating can increase a baby's risk of sleep-related infant death. The amount of clothing a baby is wearing, any blankets covering the baby and the room temperature are associated with the risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents not let the baby get overheated. Here are a few tips to keep baby's temperature regulated.

Evaluate the infant for signs of overheating – such as sweating or the infant’s chest feeling hot to the touch. The temperature of a baby’s hands or feet should not be used to determine the baby’s temperature – they are usually cold to the touch.

Babies should not be over-bundled. In general, infants should be dressed appropriately for the environment, with no greater than one additional layer than an adult would wear.

When sleeping, parents can put the baby in a wearable blanket such as a sleep sack. This allows baby to stay warm enough without the risk of a loose blanket that may cause suffocation in the baby’s sleep environment.

For more information on infant safe sleep go to

Safe Sleep Message with image of sleeping baby