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My wife and I are expecting our first baby in August - her due date is on the 15th! It just occurred to me that this is the hottest possible time of the year where we live, and I am really concerned about sun exposure. How dangerous is the sun for newborns? What can we do to keep the baby safe from the sun?

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I have an August baby as well, and another May baby, so I have had some practice with keeping newborns out of the sun. First of all, leaving the house without putting a cream with an appropriate sun protection factor is never a good idea. Their face is particularly important. Second, don't go lying on the beach with your new baby. Third, babies are not as fragile as you think they are, and getting to see the world is important to them as well, so don't think you have to keep your baby indoors all the time, just to protect them from the sun. Everything you do in moderation and with common sense in mind can't be wrong.
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I live in a part of the world where there is considerable thinning of the high level ozone layer, commonly referred to as the ozone hole.
Burn time at the hottest time of year is typically eleven minutes. (Yes, eleven.)
We take sun protection fairly seriously. A sunburn here is far more serious than an equivalent (perceived) burn in another area of the world. It can be extremely damaging.

Because you live in the northern hemisphere, it is not quite as critical. Much more of the damaging UV rays will be absorbed by the stratosphere. That said, the sort of rules, or guidelines, I use, are to not sunbathe between the seriously hot hours of the day, in terms of the angle the sun makes. That means pretty much staying out of the direct sun between 10 am and 2pm (local standard time).

At, say, 8 in the morning, or 7 in the evening, the baby could probably stay in the sun indefinitely. I would suggest gradual exposure, say 10 minutes, twice a day, for the first week, and gradually increase it, staying out of the sun for those two hours (or so) either side of noon. Sunlight is an important ingredient to well being, as it causes the body to manufacture vitamin D.

There are those that argue any sun exposure is bad and will cause damage. I'm of a more moderate view, and think that provided burning doesn't occur, sun exposure is a good idea.

I also detest sun creams and lotions. I wonder about the active ingredients, and what they might cause long term, absorbed into the skin. Obviously there is a chemical in there that can convert UV rays. To what? I'd rather use the shade for protection during the hot hours.
Sunscreens that use just a cream to carry a reflective ingredient (such as titanium dioxide) are my creams of choice, shen they must be used. They still often contain parabens, though. Up to you to research that and decide how dodgy parabens are.
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