Dealing with sunscreen with wriggly, wiggly, wiggle worms has got to be one of my least favorite parts of summer. I fully believe in the importance of children spending time outdoors, both in sports and in unstructured free exploration. But in order to protect children’s delicate skin, and our own, we have to make sure we are using safe, effective sun protection. Most kids get between 50% and 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18. Sunscreen is one easy way to make sure they are protected.
How to find the right sunscreen.
- Avoid oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a synthetic chemical often used in some big name sunscreens. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor and is also associated with photoallergic reactions. It is absorbed easily through the skin, making it even more harmful for kids and babies who are more susceptible to chemical exposure due to their size.
- Decide what you are comfortable with regarding the controversial topic of nano particles of titanium or zinc oxide. I don’t think there is a right answer here. Some believe that nano particles are more easily absorbed and might then cause cell damage.
- Avoid synthetic fragrance, parabens, propylene glycol, and dioxanes. Always check ingredients and if you are unsure about anything, Skin Deep is a great place to see information on individual ingredients as well as brands.
- Our top pick for sunscreen is California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30+ Lotion. Safemama has a great cheat sheet of safe sunscreens that might be worth a try too.
Basic Sun Safety for Babies and Kids:
- Infants under 6 months old should always be kept in the shade whenever possible. Dress in lightweight, tightly-woven clothing and a hat that covers the head and ears and shades the face.
- Older children should stay out of direct sun when the sun is most intense, usually between 10am-4pm. Kids should also wear hats and protective clothing when possible.
- Slather on the sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. Studies have shown that most people do not use enough in the first place and then don’t reapply often enough- about every 2 hours.
- Make your own shade with a big umbrella or sun shade.
- Use common sense.
Yes, I know chasing after toddlers with a babe in arms after only a few hours sleep does not always lend itself to remembering to bring the hats, sunscreen, towels, diapers, etc., etc. Before the season of pools, parks, and playdates gets underway try to get a list together of everything you need before you need to leave the house. Or better yet, stash a big bag full of essentials in the car, then you just need to grab your stainless steel water bottles, kids, keys and go! Have a sunburn-free summer!