Summer is just around the corner. Warm weather and sunshine beacon the kids to come out and play. It is my personal belief that our children need to play outside in the fresh air as much as possible. However, we need to be sure to protect them from the suns harmful rays.
My children have extremely sensitive skin courtesy of their dad. They are very fair skinned and burn easily when exposed to the sun. Needless to say, sun protection is of utmost importance in our house. I am happy to say in 17 years we have not had any serious burns.
The one time my son got a sunburn, he was on vacation with my parents. We had preached the importance of protecting his sensitive skin, they didn't think to reapply when he got out of the pool and he got a slight burn on his back. They learned their lesson, but my son had to endure the pain of a burn on vacation for them to learn it.
Below are some tips to help you keep your kids happy and healthy through the summer months (and don't forget to follow the advice for yourself, too).
The number one rule when it comes to sun safety for kids is to stay out of the sun altogether - sunscreen should only be used as a last resort, and not as an excuse to stay in the sun for longer! Try to seek shade or create it with an umbrella between the hours of 10 am - 4 pm when the sun is at it's strongest. My hubby is very strict about the kids staying out of the sun during this time of day.
It can be difficult to keep kids in the shade for too long, so be sure to protect them with sunscreen while they're playing outdoors. The experts advise to help avoid this risk use SPF 30 or above for children aged 6 months or over, and always use a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Our personal philosophy is to use the highest SPF possible, we purchase SPF100 or above. Reapply once every couple of hours, and after swimming (even if using waterproof sunscreen). What we use: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunblock, SPF 100, 5 Ounce (Pack of 2) (Amazon affiliate link).
Another easy way to protect your children from the sun is through the clothing they wear. Start by making sure they wear a sun hat whenever they're going to be in the sun for any length of time. These protect vulnerable areas such as the face, ears and neck (that are often missed by sunscreen). Wearing long clothing will also help to protect your child's skin, though not all clothing is created equal.
You can buy specific clothing for the sun, sold with a UPF rating to help determine how much sunlight gets through. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends choosing clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or above. You should use sunscreen in combination with standard clothing to get maximum protection against the sun's rays.
This one is my personal favorite, especially for swimming. I love the rash guard swim shirts. Amazon has a great selection of Rash Guard shirts. (Amazon affiliate link)
4) Don't Forget The Eyes
Your kids should be wearing sunglasses too! Long term exposure to the sun can increase the chance of cataracts, so make sure your kids are protected with sunglasses offering 100% UV protection (not just any darkened lenses). If your child really won't wear sunglasses then a wide-brimmed hat is another option. I don't know about you, but we go through the sunglasses at our house. Seems like every time I turn around, I am buying more glasses. I have found the Children's Place or Walmart to be a good place to buy reasonably priced glasses. Just be sure to look for the UV protection label!
Sun safety for kids is even more important than for adults. A child's skin is especially delicate, and overexposure to the sun in early years can have a huge impact on their risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Remember, the sun's rays can still do harm even on a cloudy day, so it's better to be safe than sorry!