Summertime is a season full of B’s – beaches, barbeques and…babies! In fact, the months of July, August and September boast the highest number of birthdays here in the United States. With this baby bounty, you might find yourself searching for the perfect gift for expectant parents; you want it to be original, but also practical. Look no further, we’ve got just the thing – a basket full of sun protection essentials.
Newborns (<6 months of age)
An infant’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin. Its absence makes them particularly vulnerable to sun damage. Because infants’ skin is so sensitive, it’s better to shield them from the sun rather than use sunscreen. To protect their skin during outings to the pediatrician or daycare, consider including the following items in your sun protection gift collection:
- Stroller Sun Shield
While most strollers come with a short overhang, that’s often not enough to keep a little one completely protected from harmful UV rays. Luckily, you can purchase a UV cover or sun shield that wraps around the frame and front of the stroller for additional protection. A number of manufacturers also sell UV-protective blankets that can be used for short rides when the full cover might not be practical.
- Car Accessories
At The Skin Cancer Foundation, we often write about the UV damage that occurs in cars. As passengers, babies are also at risk. A number of companies sell car seat canopies which wrap around the seat, fully covering the baby’s face and body. These come in different colors and designs; they are not only practical, but they can jazz up the look of a bland car seat. You might also consider a covering for the windows. Transparent UVA-filtering film is effective in screening out almost 100 percent of UVB and UVA, without reducing visibility, but it might be a tad difficult to give as a gift. Consider a set of car window shades, which can be easily installed by the new parents.
- Window Treatments for the Nursery
Just as UV rays can travel through car windows, they can pass through your home’s windows. Several manufacturers now sell UV-protective curtains and blinds designed to keep out these harmful rays. These are a great addition to any nursery (and all other rooms), helping to keep baby safe whether he or she is in the crib or spending time on a playmat.
- Lightweight Clothing and Hats
Long pants and long sleeves can provide additional protection from the sun. (And who doesn’t like an excuse to shop for baby clothing?) A wide-brimmed hat can also protect the baby’s face, neck and ears.
Babies (>6 months of age)
Once a baby hits the six-month mark, it’s time to introduce sunscreen. A few bottles of sunscreen will make a great addition to your gift basket. Many manufacturers now carry baby-specific lines that offer a gentler, tear-free formula. Remind mom and dad to be mindful of expiration dates, and encourage them to keep the sunscreen in a cool, dark place so they can still use it when the baby is old enough.
Sunglasses are an important part of a complete sun protection regimen. They protect not only the eyes, but also the surrounding skin. And let’s be honest, there are few things cuter than a baby with sunglasses. Go ahead, buy a pair for the expectant parents. Everyone will thank you.
- Beach Tent
Over the past few years, instant pop-up tents have become a staple at the beach. They are easy to assemble and provide a great reprieve from the sun’s rays. And their utility extends far beyond the sandy shore; they can be used at the park, in the backyard and even at local sporting events. This is one gift the baby won’t outgrow anytime soon.
- Rash Guards
Are the expectant parents water-lovers? If so, consider giving them a UV-protective rash guard for their little one. They come in all colors, and many have cute sayings. My personal favorite: “What’s A Sunburn?”
From decorating the nursery to installing the car seat and configuring the baby monitors, new parents have a lot to worry about. While sun protection is absolutely critical, it’s one thing that might be overlooked. By giving your loved one these essentials, you can help lay the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy skin.