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Protecting Little Children from the Summer Sun and Heat

Posted Jun 26 2012 6:40pm

Now that summer is here, I wonder if parents are aware of how much damage the sun and heat can do to their little children. As I am out in the community, I almost daily see little ones without hats,  when the sun is beating down on them. The parents often have on hats, but not the children. I was walking by a park one hot day when I saw a father desperately trying to quiet his screaming baby. The infant was much too warmly dressed and did not have any protection from the sun. The man looked so upset that I stopped and told him I was a pediatrician and said I suspected the baby was just too hot. I suggested moving into the shade, taking off some layers of clothes, and giving the baby a bottle of water. The man was glad I had spoken to him and immediately followed my advice. The baby quickly stopped screaming. 

Many parents have told me that their doctors say not to give babies water, particularly if they are breast fed. That is just plain nonsense! I can't image why any doctor would say this. Babies need plenty of fluid, particularly in hot weather.

Another concern I have about babies and little chidlren in hot weather is the use of sun screen. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend sun screen for babies under six months of age. Infants have very sensitive skin and the fewer products put on their skin, the better. Instead, they should be dressed in light clothing, have on a hat, and be sheltered from the sun, either in a stroller or with a big umbrella at the beach or park.

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