Dr Laura – Keeping children safe in the sun

Although I’ve been loving this spell of warm sunny weather we’ve been having lately, my three month old Will and twonager Steffan haven’t been quite so keen. Keeping your little ones happy and well in this heat can be a bit of a worry and as Mums we have enough stress-inducing activities to juggle as it is. So, if you, like me, have some hot grumpy children on your hands during this stuffy weather, you might find the following guide useful.

  1. Stay safe in the sun

Babies under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade and invest in a parasol for the pushchair. Toddlers and older children should also ideally be kept out of the sun between 11am and 3pm where possible. If they’re out in the sun, try and cover them up where possible and use a wide brimmed hat. Enjoy the toddler-hat battle, it’s a great one!

Ensure your little ones are smothered in lotion which is SPF 15+ (ideally I’d recommend SPF 50) which also protects against UVA & UVB rays, and reapply frequently throughout the day, especially if they’re playing in a pool or are at the beach.

The British Association of Dermatologists (or ‘BAD’ as they like to be known – hilarious, I know) have a great fact sheet on choosing a sun screen if all the different recommendations and factor/star rating systems are getting you frazzled.


I was recently really shocked when I started looking at the star rating of the sun tan lotions I had for my toddler, thinking that by buying expensive brands such as Ambre Solaire I was getting better protection, however this particular brand is only 3 star rated and therefore best avoided according to BAD. Boots’ own Soltan range http://www.boots.com/soltan/soltan-kids-sun-protection is a budget friendly 5 star option, with plenty of choice from both their baby and kids’ ranges.

2.        Avoid overheating, especially at night

Children and especially babies can overheat quickly. A useful way of checking if your baby is too warm is by touching the back of their neck. If it’s clammy, they are too hot and are at risk of overheating, so strip them off or put on a fan. Putting your baby or toddler to sleep in just a nappy or just a thin cotton vest is absolutely fine at this time of year if their room is very warm.

Having a room thermometer (we use the Gro-egg http://gro.co.uk/product/gro-egg/ which doubles as a nightlight) is particularly useful as it can help you judge what they might need to wear to bed. Guidelines suggest keeping their nursery or bedroom between 16ºc and 20ºc (however open windows galore and three fans haven’t managed to cool our upstairs rooms below 26ºc of late, so just do as much as you can!) Putting bowls of ice or bottles of frozen water in the room is an easy way of dropping the temperature, and is worth a try if you’re struggling to keep them cool.

3.         Keep them hydrated

You might find a breast-fed baby feeding more frequently during periods of hot weather, this is completely normal and is their way of avoiding dehydration. A formula fed baby may need some additional water so offer some cooled boiled water during to keep them topped up with fluid.

Toddlers and older children may need prompting to drink more during hot weather (cue asking “do you want a drink?” 100 times a day!) We tend to leave a sippy cup of water in each room at toddler height for our little one, so that he has access to fluids throughout the day rather than just at mealtimes.

Enjoy the sunshine and stay safe!

By Dr Laura









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