Sun and toddlers: how to maintain a good relationship
Sun exposure and sunburn during childhood magnifies the risk of skin cancer. The latest figures show an increase of melanoma in children and teens even if it rarely develops before adulthood. All infants have a very vulnerable skin that needs to be protected.
Babies under 6 months should stay in the shade as much as possible and should wear appropriate sun protection clothing at all times as they cannot use sunscreen. Once they are six months you can start using a protective cream nevertheless if you are planning to be outside you should avoid peak sun hours (10.00 am to 4.00 pm) or stay in the shadow as much as possible.
Toddlers are difficult to catch and hold still and you may need to be creative with your sunscreen routine. The stick forms work well for the face and hands, as toddlers are less likely to rub the product into their eyes. Sprays are popular, but take care to apply all over exposed skin, do not spray directly on your child’s skin, spray onto your hand and then apply it.
Do not use sunscreen sparingly, dermatologists say most people apply less than half as much that is need. Half an ounce (fill the palm of your toddler’s hand) of sunscreen is enough to cover the exposed skin of a young child, take care and apply to areas that can be missed, such as tops of feet, ears, backs of legs and use a lip balm with a SPF in it.
Some sunscreens are better than other for the toddlers and children. Choose an SPF 30 to 50 with a ‘broad spectrum’ label meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. You should check the ingredients and use products with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that are not absorbed by the skin. Apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before you and your child go outside and reapply every two hours or more often if your little one is playing in water.
Remember is never too early to set a good sun protection routine with your toddler and it is the best way to start a lasting and healthy relationship.