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Tips On Sunscreen For Kids

Are you about to jet off somewhere sunny for Easter and introduce your pale Winter skin to some Vitamin D?  One ‘must-have’ item for your packing list is kids sunscreen and with so many on the market, how do you choose?

It goes without saying that you should limit young kids exposure to the sun and try to keep them in the shade between 11am – 3pm.  A good tip is to get kids used to wearing a large brimmed hat from a young age.

Kids in hats - shrink

Can I apply sunscreen to a baby?

Experts recommend not applying suncreen before 6 months.  Partly because of irritants/chemicals in the sunscreen but also because at that age, babies should simply be kept out of the sun.  That said, there may be occasional times your baby might have a foot or face accidentally in the sun (this used to happen when I was walking around HK with a young baby strapped in the baby carrier).  In this case, choose an organic sunscreen and use it lightly. It’s also worth doing a patch test for sensitivity first. Although that is very organised!

What factor sunscreen should I use on the kids?

First off, look for ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen that protects against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning), both of which cause skin cancer.

Sun Protection Factor aka SPF is a measure of the suncreen’s ability to protect against UVB.  SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 keeps out 97% and SPF 50 is 98%.  Give children sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.

What sunscreen should I buy?

That is entirely up to you and the selection presented to you!  You can fork out a fortune on expensive sunscreens but in my experience, as long as it’s SPF 30 and water resistant then you should be ok.  I like the spray ones for use on wriggly toddlers although my four year old likes to apply the cream herself.  If you do choose a spray sunscreen – use it on the body and make sure the kids don’t inhale the spray.

The selection in my local pharmacy!

The selection in my local pharmacy!

Whilst I would use a product specific tailored to ‘baby skin’ for young kids, older children can use the same sunscreen as adults, there is no need to buy a children’s version, as long as the SPF is high enough.

Remember if you’re shopping for sunscreen abroad, the labelling might vary e.g. the American system is usually double the European system (so their factor 40 is actually european 20).

Natural sunscreen vs regular sunscreen

The internet is chocabloc on information on what sunscreens are right for us.  Before we jump into a whole natural vs. chemical debate, I want to say that whenever you are applying sunscreen then that is ultimately a good thing. There is a really great article by SafeMama who talks about what chemicals you should try to avoid in sunscreen and some recommendations on products.

Organic/natural sunscreen is more expensive than the bog standard stuff.  For the kids faces, I will use one of these sunscreens but for the rest of their body, I use a regular sunscreen.  One thing I didn’t know is that natural sunscreen will give immediate protection from the sun (due to zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) but traditional sunscreen takes about 20 minutes to sink in.

It is a personal decision for you and your family as to whether you choose to go down the natural route.  It’s well worth having a read about what chemicals you should try to avoid, namely oxybenzone.

My sunscreen tips

  • Pack more than enough of your favourite brand, especially if your kids have sensitive skin
  • Pack the sunscreen in plastic bags to avoid leakage
  • Apply sunscreen in the house/hotel room etc before you head out – much easier than chasing after a toddler on the street or by the pool.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 mins before you go in the water
  • Get your kids used to putting on sunscreen themselves but don’t leave them alone with the bottle!
  • Remember to reapply – I try to do it every hour if we’re by the water

Here are some useful links on the sunscreen issue:

http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm258416.htm

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/the_kids/2013/06/choosing_sunscreen_for_your_kids_organic_or_mineral_spf_30_or_50_spray_or.html

My review of Babyganics baby sunscreen

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/get-the-best-sunscreen-for-babies-and-kids/index.htm

 

Am really interested in what sunscreen products you use.  Is there one that you recommend?

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