New Guidelines Say Protect Babies From Sun Now to Prevent Skin Cancer Later

I’ve never met a kid (or an adult, for that matter), who enjoys being slathered in sunscreen before going outside.

They squirm and wiggle so much that it’s tempting to just give up, stick a hat on ’em, and hope for the best.

But the next time you take your child to the pediatrician for a wellness checkup, don’t be surprised if the doctor reminds you about the importance of sunscreen and other ways to protect your child from too much exposure to the sun.

New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend physicians begin counseling parents on skin-cancer prevention for children as young 6 months old.

The volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention say advising parents of the risks of exposure to UV radiation could reduce their risk of skin cancer down the road.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the task force.

While anyone can develop skin cancer, people with fair skin, light hair and eyes, freckles and those who sunburn easily are at increased risk.

Organ-transplant recipients and people with skin moles, HIV infection or a family history of skin cancer are also vulnerable.

Protecting Your Child From Skin Cancer

There are a few ways to protect your child from harmful UV radiation.

  • Regular application of broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen (no matter how much they squirm)
  • Stay in the shade instead of direct sunlight when outdoors
  • Avoid bright surfaces like snow and sand that reflect UV rays
  • Cover exposed skin with clothing and wide-brimmed hats
  • Avoid the sun during peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time.

Like learning to brush their teeth, developing good skin-cancer prevention habits while they’re young will serve your children well into adulthood.

Lisa McGreevy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She remembers the days when people basted themselves in baby oil and fried on a lawn chair. Don’t do that.