When can my newborn go to the beach?
Would it be OK to take my 3 week old baby to the beach for an hour or two? I would keep her under an umbrella and use sunscreen. Is this allright, or should I just not go at all?Laurie, The MNBC Mommy's answer:
Oh, I know how tempting it is! My personal opinion would be to wait a while. Here's why it is not a good idea at this point, AND what you need to consider if you choose to go:
- Sunburn - Did you know that excess sun exposure in the first years of life can double your child's chances of melanoma later in life? Even one sunburn at this age increases the future risk of cancer.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends keeping children less than 6 months old out of direct sunlight entirely.20 Sunscreen is recommended for use only in limited quantities when sunlight is unavoidable.
New babies are very susceptible to sunburn, so every inch of their skin needs to be protected. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light-weight clothing that covers the arms and legs will keep much of her covered.
Don't forget about her eyes! Baby sunglasses with UV protection are recommended to protect them, also.
An umbrella, or better yet, a sun tent would be helpful, keeping in mind that she can be burned by the reflection of the sun off of the water.
If you feel that you need to use sunscreen on your newborn baby, make sure that it says "broad-spectrum" on the label. This means it will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Choose a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
Sunscreen is not immediately effective in blocking harmful rays, so be sure to apply it 30 minutes before exposure. Don't forget to reapply every few hours.
Also be mindful that many sunscreens contain chemicals that your baby's immature system is not ready to handle. Keep in mind, too, that sunscreen which gets into little eyes will ruin your outing. See the best option I have found for a gentle baby sunscreen with an easy application here.
- Wind - Have you seen what happens when you blow a little air into your newborn's face? (Kinda mean, aren't I?) It makes them take a quick breath in. Have you seen what happens if they get into some wind? It's almost as if they are unable to exhale. That can't last very long before there is trouble. It seems to me that beaches and wind (and blowing sand) tend to go hand-in-hand more often than not.
- Overheating should be a very real concern when taking a newborn to the beach. A newborn baby's temperature regulatory system (or sweating capabilities) are still immature. This can result in overheating and a fast onset of heatstroke.
Extreme caution needs to be taken to make sure that your baby stays comfortably cool in hot weather.
- Dehydration - Along with the heat, dehydration is a concern. Your baby will need extra feedings to make sure that she doesn't become dehydrated.
When you consider all of the above, it might not seem worth it to take a trip to the beach quite yet. If you can't bring yourself to wait a month or two, make sure you take to heart these precautions.
You can also make plans to avoid the most intense ultraviolet radiation of the day (10 AM to 4 PM) by going early in the morning or waiting until late afternoon.
Sorry it sounds like I'm raining on your...er...beach party. The truth is that given a few months, your baby will be more interested in the world around her, more able to communicate her likes and dislikes, and therefore, the both
of you will enjoy your time at the beach more.