We all require some exposure to the sun. In the morning, it is normal to observe parents with their newborns sunbathing. This activity has the potential to make his or her body healthy. Know more about baby sunbathing and how you can get the best of sunlight for your newborn’s overall health benefit!
Benefits of baby sunbathing
Upon being discharged from the hospital, one of the usual instructions paediatricians give parents is to sunbathe their newborns for about 30 minutes, between 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. so that their baby’s skin doesn’t hurt too much.
If you’re wondering why baby sunbathing is part of the doctor’s orders, check out the following reasons:
1. More Vitamin D
According to Dr Ruth Alejandro, a paediatrician from Makati Medical Centre in the Philippines, it is important for newborns to sunbathe because sunlight exposure helps the baby to produce Vitamin D that helps the body to absorb calcium. This is one of the most important advantages of exposing your newborn to sunshine.
Our bodies require vitamin D, which requires a minimum of 15 minutes of UV exposure every day, depending on our skin tone.
Vitamin D increases calcium absorption, which builds bones and teeth. It also contributes to a healthier immune system, making your baby’s body more protected from any disease.
2. Enhanced serotonin levels
When newborns are exposed to enough sunlight, their serotonin production increases. Serotonin, also known as the “happy hormone,” increases feelings of happiness and security. In newborns, serotonin affects sleep and digestion.
3. Better insulin levels
To some extent, exposure to sunshine from a young age can aid in the prevention of diseases such as diabetes. Though vitamin D is not the only factor that contributes to optimal insulin levels, it is an important one.
Vitamin D helps the body maintain insulin levels. During the growing years of a child’s life, a nutritious diet and regular exercise can help keep diabetes in check.
4. Manages Jaundice
Jaundice in newborn
Dr Alejandro said that newborn babies are often affected by jaundice which makes their skin and eyes have a yellowish tinge. Jaundice is caused by a build-up of a chemical called bilirubin in the baby’s blood and tissues.
Sunlight, on the other hand, helps the yellow pigment in the baby’s blood to be excreted in the urine and stool. Sunlight aids in the breakdown of bilirubin, a yellowish chemical produced naturally in the catabolic pathway, so that it may be processed more easily by a baby’s liver.
According to the paediatrician, there are two types of newborn jaundice:
Most often breastfeeding jaundice happens during the first week of life. It occurs when your baby doesn’t get enough breast milk because mum still has a low milk supply. In order to treat breastfeeding jaundice, the baby needs to be fed more often in addition to sunbathing.
Breast milk jaundice is different from breastfeeding jaundice. It happens due to the abnormal accumulation of bilirubin, causing a yellowish discolouration of the neonate’s skin known as jaundice.
Breast milk jaundice may appear after your baby’s first week of life and may take a month or more to disappear. Medical experts said that breast milk jaundice “is normal” and it won’t be needing any treatment in the hospital. All you have to do is have a regular baby sunbathing time.
5. Higher energy levels
The production of melatonin is enhanced when a newborn baby is exposed to natural sunlight. Melatonin levels in the baby can have an impact on his sleep habits, which are crucial during the newborn’s first few years. Sunlight causes melatonin levels to drop and serotonin levels to rise, resulting in an increase in energy levels.
Know the how’s and why’s of newborn sunbathing
Despite the numerous advantages, sunbathing a newborn should be done with caution. Excessive sun exposure to your child may raise his or her chance of developing skin cancer later in life.
This is why it is critical for your child to be protected from the sun. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a recommendation that babies aged 0 to 6 months should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
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Best time for baby sunbathing
So, when is the best time to let your child sunbathe? The ideal period, according to child health experts, is between 6 and 7.30 a.m., when the sunlight is not yet bright and low.
Sunbathing your newborn should not take long, around 10 to 30 minutes at most. When sunbathing, keep your distance from the dust. If the situation and conditions do not allow it, do not force your child to sunbathe.
How long to put the baby under the sun for jaundice?
Excess bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice, which causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow. The regular breakdown of red blood cells when they reach the end of their life cycle and die produces bilirubin.
Bilirubin is normally eliminated as bile through the intestines after passing through the liver. When bilirubin builds up quicker than a newborn’s liver can break it down and eliminate it, jaundice develops.
Allowing your infant to be exposed to sunshine through a window may help lower his or her bilirubin level, but only if the baby is undressed.
Put the baby in a bassinet or on a blanket near a window with direct or indirect light to sunbathe (even on a cloudy day). Make sure the room is warm, and remove all but the diaper from the infant.
Image source: iStock
Sunbathe the baby for 20-30 minutes twice a day in this manner. Through a window, the infant will not get tanned. It’s important to remember that babies should never be exposed to direct sunlight since they could get burnt.
The uncontrolled accumulation of bilirubin can cause the skin of a newborn baby to turn yellow. Mild jaundice can be treated by exposing your baby to morning sunshine for 15 to 20 minutes, undressed, every day. A severe case, on the other hand, will require more attention.
Is it really necessary for babies to be naked when sunbathing? According to Dr Alejandro, babies should be naked because the maximum area of their bodies should be exposed to the sun. Remember, jaundice will not be reduced if the baby is dressed.
The paediatrician advises parents to strip their newborns down to their nappies during their early sunbathing time.
How to protect baby’s skin while sunbathing
A newborn’s skin is extremely prone to sun damage. This is partly due to the fact that they haven’t yet formed all of the melanin — a natural skin pigment that gives some sun protection — that they will have as they age.
Now that you know that newborns and sunshine have a therapeutic relationship, here are some pointers on how to get the most out of it:
Image from Shutterstock
1. Choose the right time
To reap the most benefits, expose your child to sunshine for 10 to 15 minutes between 7 and 10 a.m. The best time to expose him to sunlight is one hour after sunrise and one hour before sundown.
Because a baby’s skin is so delicate, it should not be exposed to sunlight for over 30 minutes. Long-term exposure to UV rays can harm your baby’s skin membrane, producing irritation, redness, and burning.
Before he takes his morning bath, your baby can get his daily dose of sunlight. This will assist you in cleaning regions such as the folds of the stomach, thighs, feet, and areas behind the ears that are often overlooked.
2. Pick the right location
It is not necessary for your baby’s sunbathing to take place in an open area. Open a window that lets light in, or put the infant in an area that gets enough natural light.
If it’s windy outside, keep the infant indoors to avoid getting dust or other foreign objects in his eyes. A clear glass window allows your kid to bask in the sun just as well.
Because an infant’s skin is so delicate, it’s best to keep them out of the sun for the first six months rather than using sunscreen. Shade provides the best protection for babies under the age of six months, thus they should be kept out of the sun as much as possible.
It’s especially crucial to avoid direct sun exposure and seek cover between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its strongest. During walks, stick to the shady side of the street and utilise your stroller’s sun cover.
While sunbathing, make sure your child’s eyes aren’t exposed to direct sunlight. You can use a soft towel to shield her eyes, or you can turn the baby’s head away from the sun.
To avoid dehydration, breastfeed your child as soon as possible after the walk. Then, after some time has passed, bathe your child in warm water.
3. Clothe your newborn appropriately
It’s essential to pay equal attention to the baby’s entire body, especially the chest and back. Make sure your child isn’t fully dressed.
It’s also a good idea to wear your infant in a brimmed hat and lightweight clothing that covers his or her arms and legs on a regular basis.
If possible, use a shield to protect your child’s eyes from harm. Covering up is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin. Put your hand into garments to make sure you can’t see it through them to ensure they provide adequate protection.
4. Apply sunscreen
It’s time to start using sunscreen on your kid once he or she reaches the age of six months. Choose a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 that is broad-spectrum and water-resistant.
Apply sunscreen to the inside of your baby’s wrist as a test. If the child is irritated, try a different sunscreen. Continue to keep your baby warm by wearing a hat and wearing protective clothing.
Apply sunscreen to the backs of your hands, face, ears, and neck, as well as any other exposed areas. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside and reapply every two hours or more frequently if your baby is in the pool or sweating.
Now that you’ve learned about the numerous physical and emotional advantages of exposing your child to sunlight, it’s time to take action!
Before you do so, think about your baby’s skin condition and overall health. For most, sunlight is abundant, and we should take advantage of it to the fullest extent possible to enjoy all its health benefits.
This article was written by Matt Doctor and republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible to those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.