1. Reapply at least every 2 hours. No matter what.
Spending the day at outside? Make sure your little one has his/her sunscreen reapplied at least every 2 hours. Set a timer if you need to. Also be sure to reapply after swimming or excessive sweating no matter how much time has passed.
Fact–> No sunscreen is truly water-proof, only water-resistant if labeled as such.
And remember, SPF has nothing to do with the length of time your child is protected from UV rays when outdoors. Therefore, higher SPF does not mean your child can stay in the sun longer before reapplying. SPF refers to the strength of protection against UVB rays.
2. Babies need sunscreen too.
Contrary to popular belief, you can apply sunscreen to your baby. Just be sure to limit her exposure by using only on exposed areas of her body such as cheeks, nose, neck, and hands. Keep the rest of her delicate skin covered up by light cotton clothing and hats.
Fact–> Keep in mind that sun exposure/damage is additive and that most of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is incurred during childhood (80%).
3. Use hats, sun protective clothing, and sunglasses to complete the package.
Staying safe in the sun isn’t only about applying sunscreen. Use light cotton clothing, hats, and sunglasses to maximize sun safety. And remember to seek shade, keep plenty of water on hand to prevent dehydration, and keep in mind that UV rays are the strongest between the hours of 10 am-4 pm.
4. Don’t skip the sunscreen on cloudy days.
Cloud cover does not prevent UV rays from reaching earth’s surface so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security if you’re spending the day at the beach on an overcast day. These sun safety rules still apply.
Fact–> Remember even 1 blistering sunburn in childhood can more than double your child’s risk of developing melanoma later in life.
5. Tanning booths are NOT safe.
Unfortunately, many teens have the misconception that tanning booths are a “safe” way to tan. The fact is, there is no safe way to tan and tanning booths expose you to the same UV rays as the sun. In fact, 10 times as much.
Fact–> Just one session in a tanning booth can increase your risk of melanoma by 74%! And while the overall rates of melanoma in children are still rare, the rates are rising and 75% of pediatric cases occur in 15-19 year olds.
6. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen.
You want to use a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. This will be labeled as “broad spectrum”. 95% of the sun rays reaching earth are UVA, the other 5% are UVB.
7. Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. Though 30 is preferable for a day in the sun.
SPF refers to the strength of protection against UVB rays, the ones most associated with the development of skin cancer. SPF 15-50 is good, but after 50 is overkill and does not provide any additional protection.
8. Check your sunscreen for safety.
Don’t use any sunscreen that has expired or turned a different color. Check your sunscreen on the Environmental Working Group’s website or use it to find one for your family. It rates most sunscreens on safety and efficacy. Love their annual sunscreen report.
Fact–> Being outdoors is good for your children, so don’t shy away. Just be prepared with these essential sun safety tips.
Elizabeth Pantley is mother of four and the author of the now-classic baby sleep book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution, as well as The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution, The No-Cry Potty Training Solution and The No-Cry Discipline Solution along with seven other successful parenting books. Visit her at pantley.com