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A Sun Guide for Babies

It's easy to freak out when it comes to protecting your baby from the sun. But relax: You're still a good mommy even if you miss a few patches when you're lubing her up with sunblock, says David Berman, M.D., a Palo Alto, California, dermatologist. There's no need to stay inside all summer, he says. Just take these precautions and your baby should be just fine:

For general outings, dress your baby in lightweight, loose clothing that covers most of her arms and legs, and a sun hat. Then head for the shade or use a canopy, umbrella, or pop-up tent.

For babies 6 months or younger who will be in direct sunlight at, say, a pool, opt for a wet suit instead of a teeny baby bikini, or a T-shirt and some trunks. Then apply a physical-barrier children's sunblock that contains the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; they're less irritating to babies' skin than regular sunscreens.

For babies older than 6 months, you can use the standard infant sunblocks. Be sure to apply it 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.

If you're in a pinch and can't get hold of a baby-sanctioned sunscreen, Dr. Berman says it's okay to use the adult kind, as long as it's PABA-free, has an SPF 30 or higher, and you don't have a family history of allergies, such as eczema and hay fever.

If your baby's skin does get a little pink, soothe it with aloe or Noxema (the menthol relieves the burn). Avoid sunburn salves with the suffix "caine"; they can cause an allergic reaction in young skin.

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