Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sun protection for traveling (and non-traveling) kids

We all know that we should protect ourselves and our children from the sun in order to avoid sunburn and possible skin cancer. Either you stay out of the sun, you cover up, or you slather on the sunscreen. I use a lot of sunscreen on my children, partly because I still have hideous memories of my own sunburns and would rather spare them that pain and suffering at all costs.

Regardless of the type of sunscreen I use, I always look for a few things on the label:
  • Fragrance-free, especially for my son who is very sensitive to smells, but also because it's just nicer if it doesn't smell too much.
  • Non-irritating, which should mean it doesn't sting the eyes. Most sunscreens sting my eyes, and I just want to avoid that for my children.
  • Waterproof, because my children love playing in the water, whether it's running through the hose out in the backyard, enjoying the water-play at the water-park, splashing in the pool, or playing in the ocean.
  • Hypoallergenic, since my children both have somewhat sensitive skin.
  • SPF 30 or higher, because anything less just seems pointless. When we were in Maui, I slathered the kids in SPF 50 and up.
When applying the sunscreen, I apply it everywhere the sun will shine (and usually where it probably won't shine, just to be sure).
  • Apply the sunscreen about half an hour before heading out. Re-apply every two hours or more often if your children are playing in the water.
  • Don't forget to put sunscreen on the top of your kids' feet if they will be barefoot, on their ears (even if they wear hats), and rub it into your their scalp too if they have very thin or fine hair (mine were bald as cue-balls for a long time, so I got used to rubbing sunscreen into their peach-fuzz hair).
  • If you are somewhere with a very sunny and very hot climate, stay out of the sun for a few hours just before and after noon. I think mornings and afternoons are the best for beach and other outdoor activities under those conditions.

Aveeno Baby Sunblock Lotion, SPF-55, 4-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 2)Johnson & Johnson Baby daily face and body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40, 4-Fluid Ounces Tubes (Pack of 3)California Baby SPF 30 + Sunscreen Lotion - Super Sensitive, 2.9 oz
Creams and lotions
These can be a bit messy to put on, but they work great and you can really make sure you're putting it everywhere. Make sure that any sunscreen creams you buy are not too thick: it can make them very hard to rub into skin.

I usually try not to use creams and lotions when we're on the beach, mainly because of the sand-factor: rubbing sandy lotion or cream into someone's skin might be good for exfoliation, but your kids probably won't like it much.

When we're in beach-mode, I usually apply creams and lotions to the kids' skin before we head out in the morning, and then use sprays when we're on the beach.

Coppertone Kids Continuous Spray, SPF 50, Twinpack, 6-Ounce BottlesHawaiian Tropic Baby Faces Sunblock, SPF 50, 8-Ounce Spray Bottles (Pack of 2)Kiss My Face Sunspray Lotion SPF 30, 8-Ounce
Pump sprays are alright, but really not much different than lotions in my opinion because they still need to be rubbed into the skin.

My absolute favorite type of sprays, especially for use on the beach, are the clear, continuous sunscreen sprays. They don't need to be rubbed into skin, you just spray all over and it's done. No messing around and getting sandy.

When my kids are playing in the sand (and becoming sand-covered) I brush off as much sand as possible and then just spray the stuff on them even if there is sand left. It works great, but my children are sometimes nicely caked with sunscreen-glued-on sand at the end of the day... Extra SPF, right?

I have seen sprays that claim they will make sand not stick to skin, and I might try those out next time I'm beach-bound in hot weather with the kids.
POLARN O. PYRET Rashguard One Piece Swimsuit (Baby)Baby Banz 3/4 Sleeve Rash Shirt, Blue, Size 2

Rashguard shirts and suits
Rashguard shirts or the zip-up body-suits are fantastic for children. We used them for all our beach time in Maui, and it really helps since you do not have to worry about the back, neck, shoulders and upper arms getting sunburned . If your children play in the water a lot, these outfits make your life (and theirs) a lot easier and hopefully sunburn free.
Trend Lab Beach Hat, Tulip, 6 MonthsSchylling Infant UV Play Shade

If your child is under 6 months old
For this age group, it's usually recommended that you keep them covered and out of the sun rather than putting sunscreen on them. Some medical associations are now saying it's probably ok to put small amounts of sunblock or sunscreen on children younger than 6 months, but the main recommendation is still to keep them out of the sun because they burn and overheat so easily.

Use a cute baby hat, put them in the shade of a small beach tent, use a parasol, use a blanket, just cover them up any way you can.
Adventure BanZ Baby Age 0-2 Sunglasses, Pacific BlueKids K8 Sunglasses UV400 Rated Ages Toddler - 4 (Silver)

Yes, kids should wear sunglasses too, even if they're just babies. Though I had, and still have, a hard time getting my kids to keep their sunglasses on. I usually rely on the hats to protect their eyes and faces, but every year I keep hoping I'll find some shades for them that they'll really like and actually enjoy wearing. Hasn't happened yet, but I'm not giving up!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the share! When trying to decide what sunscreen for your kids to buy you need to take into consideration the ingredients being used as well. Things like Oxybenzone, Avobezone, Octisalate, and Homosalate tend to dry out skin and should be avoided at all costs!


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