There are plenty of ways we protect ourselves from the sun – by wearing hats or long clothing, lathering our skin in sunscreen lotion, and staying in the shade. But the best way to protect your eyes from sun damage is to wear a pair of sunglasses.
If you have a baby, you may be wondering if and when they should start wearing sunglasses. Is there such a thing as too early? How to get the frames to stay in place? Below, we address the best age to invest in sunglasses for your baby and what to look for to find the best pair.
A Baby’s Eyes Are More Prone To Damage
Babies are more at risk of skin and eye damage from the sun. Their eyelids and the skin surrounding the eyes is more delicate than that of older children and adults. This makes it easier for UV rays to permeate the skin and cause damagewhich can lead to vision and skin problems in the future, including cataracts, cancer, and macular degeneration.
With this in mind, it’s important for babies, toddlers, and older children to wear sunglasses whenever they’re exposed to UV rays. This is crucial when in direct sunlight, but it also still smart to do in indirect sunlight, as UV rays can still cause damage in overcast or cloudy weather.
The Age Babies Need Sunglasses
However, what you’ll often hear from eyecare professionals is that you don’t need to buy your baby’s first pair of sunglasses until they’re 6-months old. This may seem counter-intuitive, given that their eyes and skin are more susceptible to damage. But there’s good reason behind it.
As Children’s Primary Care Medical Group explains, babies younger than 6-months-old should be kept out of the sun. At such a young age, their eyes and skin are more delicate than ever. It’s also easier for babies to become overheated. Infants cannot regulate their temperature as effectively as older kids and adults. They also sweat less, preventing them from cooling down quickly.
As such, keep babies under half a year away from sunlight as much as possible. They should be kept in the shade (like a covered car seat or stroller) and wearing a hat and long-sleeved clothes to protect their eyes and skin.
There’s nothing wrong with getting sunglasses for a baby under 6-months of age, though it may be tough to find frames small enough to fit their face. But the point is that you shouldn’t have to buy sunglasses for a baby so young. Since they shouldn’t be in the sun’s way, they shouldn’t need sunglasses.
How To Find Baby Sunglasses
Once your baby is old enough to need sunglasses, don’t rush to pick up any ol ‘pair. There are important things to look for and keep in mind to ensure you’re picking up a pair of frames that will protect and suit your child’s needs.
Look for full protection
You need to find sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays. If the lenses do not guarantee this, then they may not be strong enough to block out all sunlight, rendering them ineffective. Also, the bigger the better. Choosing a large pair of frames will protect more of your baby’s facial skin. They shouldn’t be too big to the point where they constantly fall off. But it’s better to opt for wider frames than a narrow pair.
Choose a durable material
You can expect your baby to want to play with the sunglasses, from pulling it off their face to throwing it on the ground. You want to choose a pair made from a durable material that won’t break easily.
Polycarbonate is a good material for children’s sunglasses since its impact-resistant and lightweight. Some baby sunglasses are flexible and will move with your child, thereby reducing the potential for breakage. Try to opt for shatterproof frames and lenses, which reduces the likelihood the sunglasses will break into small pieces if damaged.
Consider wrap-around sunglasses
The fit of the sunglasses is also equally important. If it’s too loose, it’ll slip off your baby’s face and frustrate them while offering no protection. But if it’s too tight, it will also irritate your baby. While adult sunglasses are supported by the nose, children’s frames must be supported by the face and ears, since their noses are still so small.
For babies under a year old, your best bet is to choose wrap-around sunglasses with an adjustable strap. Not only will the sunglasses grow with your child as they get bigger, but the strap evenly distributes the weight of the glasses. Wrap-around frames are less likely to slide or fall off, thus encouraging your child to keep them on.
For more information on babies and sunglasses, please reach out to an eyecare professional.
Sources: Happiest Baby, CPCMG, All About Vision, Today’s Parent,