As a parent, you're always trying to do the best for your kids, but times have changed since you were young. While you might have been sent out to play on a hot day with only the occasional application of sunscreen, we now know more about how damaging the sun's rays can be, so it's important to protect your child from them as much as possible.
These child sun-safety tips for parents will give you to lowdown on how to protect your kids from sun damage. Although the greater amount of melanin in darker skin tones offers some sun protection, it's not just fair-skinned children who can suffer skin damage from the sun, so these tips apply to children of color, too.
(And keep scrolling to find our shopping list for products that will help with the process.)
Avoid the hottest part of the day
The sun is at its strongest between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If at all possible, have your children stay out of the sun between these hours, especially on extremely hot days. Of course, it's not always possible for your kids to be cooped up for four hours right in the middle of the day. Instead, encourage your kids to play in shady areas or create your own sun protection, such as bringing a pop-up tent or shelter on a trip to the beach or erecting a gazebo in your garden.
Always wear your sunscreen
Not only is it important for children to wear sunscreen, it must be applied properly, too. Liberally apply sunscreen to any exposed parts of your kids' bodies around 30 minutes before you go out in the sun. You need to reapply it every two hours, or immediately after drying off if your child has been swimming or sweating excessively. It's recommended that children of all skin colors wear sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. You can set a good example for your kids by practicing what you preach, wearing and regularly reapply sunscreen yourself.
Although fabrics don't block out all of the sun's rays, they do go a long way to preventing sunburn, so it's best for your children to wear clothes with long sleeves, pant legs, or skirts, when the temperature allows for it. This can be impossible on exceptionally hot days, but long, loose clothing made from light materials is often no warmer than standard t-shirts and shorts made from heavier materials. When at the beach or the pool, a long-sleeved rashguard will protect your child's arms and torso from sun damage. A wide-brimmed hat will shade your child's face and neck, as well as keeping any exposed parts of their scalp from burning.
Sun can damage the eyes, too, so your child should wear shades on sunny days. Choose sunglasses that protect from both UVA and UVB rays, and that offer as close to 100% protection as possible. Wrap around shades are ideal as they block rays coming in from the sides, as well as the front.
Skin and eye damage aren't the only dangers that the sun poses. On extremely hot days, it's not uncommon for children to suffer from sunstroke or heat exhaustion. Make sure your child drinks enough water throughout the day and try to discourage over-exertion.
It's vital to protect your children's delicate skin from the sun, even if they don't always like your methods.
Sun-safe shopping list
Pop-up beach tent or gazebo: To create shade wherever you go, consider buying a pop-up beach tent, such as the Coleman Beach Shade. If you want to make a shady spot in your garden, a gazebo is a better option. The Abba Patio Gazebo is a great choice.
Sun screen: It's important to choose a high-quality sunscreen for kids. Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion has an SPF of 50, protecting against UVA and UVB rays. What's more, it has a gentle mineral formulation for sensitive skin and isn't tested on animals.
Hat: A sun hat will protect your child's scalp, in addition to shading her face and neck. A hat with a wide brim that goes all around the outside of the hat is ideal. We love the Sunday Afternoons Kids Play Hat, which is notable for its wide range of colors and prints, plus its cooling mesh panels.
Sunglasses: Choose a pair of sunglasses that have proper UVA and UVB protection. For young kids, they'll need a strap around the back to keep them on. Older children may be more likely to wear theirs consistently if they like the design. One of our favorite pairs of kids' sunglasses are TPEE Unbreakable Polarized Kids Sports Sunglasses, with their wraparound design and ability to block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
Rashguard: A rashguard can help prevent your child from getting sunburn while swimming, since water will wash off some of their sunscreen. Kanu Surf Platinum Rashguard is a fine choice. It's listed as a boys' rashguard but is unisex, in our opinion.