Safe Sun for Families
With spring here (though it doesn’t always feel like it) , I am longing for heat and sunshine. We are planning a quick trip down South to rejuvenate and soak up some rays. With a toddler, and another one on the way, I suddenly became conscious of planning ahead regarding sun shelter. Before, I may have slapped on any old sunscreen, and sprawled out in the sun, but being pregnant, I want to make sure that I am keeping my baby and myself safe. And for my eighteen month old, I can’t keep him still, so ensuring he’s well protected is key.
Even those families with a darker pigment still need protection. Be especially careful with young children who have more skin to body mass than adults, and are susceptible to sunburn. Sunburn not only hurts, but can also cause other complications like skin damage, dehydration and illness.
There is so much information, it can be overwhelming, but here are some tips that I’ve distilled that seem sensible and straightforward.
Quick Sun Protection Sense For Families:
1) Avoid direct sunlight exposure when the sun rays are most intense. This is between 11 am and 3 pm. If you aren’t keeping track of time when in vacation mode, a shadow shorter than yourself indicates high sun and time to exercise extra caution. During this time, stay indoors or make sure you and your children are protected by shade from trees, umbrellas, buildings etc
2) Cover up. This may seem to make little sense in the heat, but light cotton and natural fabric are the best protection for children. Wear airy, loose fitting long sleeves and light summer pants when possible Sport wide brim hats. I find for young kids, it is better when they have a chin strap to keep the hat in place, so they don’t blow away in the breeze or kids don’t tug them off. Bathing suits for children that look like mini-wetsuits are available in short and long sleeves and cover more skin surface that briefs or bikinis. Swimming shirts are also available and provide extra coverage when using swimming diapers. Be sure to remove the shirts after swimming so children can dry off.
3) Wear sunscreen. Use sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Note: Children under 6 months should never use sunscreen. Reapply every two hours or after swimming. Keep them in the shade, which shouldn’t be too hard, since they sleep often and are content in well-protected strollers. Look for my future blog discussing different types of sunscreen from natural to commercial, the differences and how to decide what is right for your family.
4) Sunglasses are also good especially near water or sand where the glare reflecting from surfaces can be intense. When he was younger, my son didn’t like wearing sunglasses, but now we make it a game at home, playing peek-a-boo, so he gets accustomed to the weight and presence of sunglasses on his face. Now he happily wears them for longer periods of time outdoors without pulling them off. Sunglasses with a wide and cushioned strap seems to be most comfortable. Check that the lenses over broad spectrum protection UVA and UVB to protect against eye damage.
5) Keep children well hydrated. When playing the sun, children will sweat and naturally lose body fluids. Keep water and natural juices close by to make sure children don’t dehydrate. Another alternative to surprise them with popsicles. Kids love fun, cool treats to cool them down.
1) Not all resorts are the same in terms of amenities. Some have readily available umbrellas by the pool and beach, but not all do. I would definitely double check the resort. If the beach is not naturally shaded or the pool doesn’t have umbrellas, make sure to plan ahead. You can buy umbrellas that will work in the sand. Look for ones where the pole collapses, so they are easy to pack and carry. Some even come with shoulder straps.
2) When planning day excursions, or sight-seeing, seeking shade is not always practical. We try and plan meal times when the sun is strongest, and other indoor activities like museums, or covered attractions. Save the swimming and outdoor activities for early morning or later afternoon when the sun isn’t so strong.
3) Check the daily UV rating and act accordingly. UV rays can damage skin and eyes. Depending on the strength of UV rays, you and your children can burn in as little as 15 minutes. When the UV index is low (2 and lower), there is little need for worry or active protection measures. Between 3 and 7, be sure to follow the advice above. The UV index is considered high when above 8 and extra precaution is needed. In the tropics, the UV index could be as high as 10 or more.
Happy and safe sun travels and play!
Go-La Rolla, co- founder
Two moms rolled up the love they have for their families into organic, eco-friendly, locally- produced play & pampering products for babies.
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