Summertime means fun in the sun, but too much sun can be damaging to your little one's skin. In fact, the sunburns you get in your childhood are usually the ones that develop into skin cancer as an adult.
We may be overly cautious at our house, but our kids have yet to get a sunburn. Here are the rules we follow, which are promoted by the CDC.
1. Stay in the Shade Midday
The sun is at its strongest midday (between the hours of 12 and 4. Try to plan for indoor activities during these hours, or stay in the shade. Pop-up tents and umbrellas can help you stay cool and out of the sun if you're out and about.
2. Cover Up
If the kids can't stay in the shade, cover them up. If I know we're going to be at the park or the beach for an afternoon, I'll make sure the kids are wearing long-sleeves and long pants. I choose breathable fabrics, so the kids don't get overheated.
Wet clothes don't offer as much UV protection, so keep this in mind if your little one goes for a dip in the water.
3. Apply Sunscreen
Always apply sunscreen before going outside. If the kids are going swimming in the pool or ocean, make sure you use waterproof sunscreen.
We like to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before the kids go outside. Lotions are better than sprays because sprays can easily miss spots or wind up in your child's eyes. Don't forget to apply the sunscreen to your child's lips, nose, ears and tops of the feet.
The sunscreen should be SPF 15 or higher, but SPF 40 or higher is best (Apivita has a sunscreen with SPF 50).
4. Wear Hats and Sunglasses
If you're going to be outdoors for a long period of time, make sure that you cover up your child's head and protect her eyes.
Look for hats that shade the face, ears and neck. Baseball caps are not ideal for sun protection. Look for sun hats. They come in a wide range of sizes and with fun designs. If your child refuses to wear anything but a baseball cap, be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed areas.
Sunglasses can also protect your child's eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts in the future. Choose a pair with a fun design that your child won't mind wearing.
5. Know When Enough is Enough
Keep an eye on your child's skin when you're out. If her skin looks pink, you know she's had too much already.
A child's skin can start burning in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for the skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.
We've found that applying sunscreen and covering up have been most effective in protecting our children's skin. We never leave the house without a bottle of sunscreen – just in case we get stuck outside longer than expected.