Some mom’s at our local park think I’m crazy because when my munchkins were born (in April and late June, respectively), they didn’t get much sun until after they were 6-months old. It was head-to-toe coverage, an occasional cameo in the sun before 10am or after 5pm. That’s it.
Now that Ilana is 3-years-old and David is almost 2-years-old, rest assured the SPF Police still patrols the exit door.
No park, no sun after 11:30am. We come back after 4:30pm. And, that window will change as the weeks go by, and the sunshine rays gets stronger.
When we do go outside, it’s all about sun-fun, but safety first.
SPF – check. (My preference is a mineral lotion sunscreen with an SPF of 50).
Lip SPF – check.
Loose clothing – check.
Hats – check.
OK, now we can go have fun.
The above proves once again, I am my mother’s daughter. She raised my sister and me to be cautious of the sun, and the health and beauty problems it could cause us in the future. Actually, did you know that just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life? Thanks mom. My healthy (knock-on-wood) and youthful-looking skin in very grateful for your common-sense approach to sun-fun.
Before you head off into the sun (pun very much intended), here are 5 Sun Safety Tips for Kids and Babies. Happy Don’t Fry Day!
1. No sunscreen for babies under 6-months of age
Keep infants out of direct sunlight, as their fragile skin is thin and delicate. Once they turn 6-months-old, look for a sunscreen that is formulated specifically for their sensitive skin. Chris Birchby, Founder and CEO of COOLA, one of my favorite sunscreen brands, also suggests looking for “sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and fragrance free, and come in a form that is easy to apply on your child”
2. Lotion Sunscreen vs Spray Sunscreen
Lotions are ideal, especially for younger kids that are fidgety during application. You don’t want to spray into their month or eyes. Also, with a lotion you will likely have a more even distribution.
3. Grab a shot glass
Most parents don’t apply enough SPF on themselves, not to mention their children. As a visual aid, use the recommended shot-glass amount (for toddlers you can use 2/3 a shot glass). Reapply every 2-hours, or after excessive swimming, toweling and sweating. Note that water-resistant SPF’s are now labels with “40-minutes” or “80-minutes”, but if you’re kid wants to stay in the pool for 80-minutes, you need to use some common sense and pull them out once or twice for a rest and reapplication. It’s a good time to get them to sit in the shade for 10-minutes and eat a fruit.
4. Don’t let clouds fool you
Birchby recommends we, “Use sunscreen even if it is cloudy outside. Clouds don’t absorb all of the UV radiation that may harm your child. About 80% of UV rays are allowed through clouds.”
5. Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreens
a. Mineral (also called physical) sunscreens use minerals, namely Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, as their main active ingredients. These minerals form a physical barrier over the skin that reflect and scatter UVA and UVB rays. Because of this “bounce off” effect, mineral sunscreens are better for sensitive skin. Also, they are effective right after application – no wait time. However, they do slide off easier, so you will need to reapply more frequently after swimming, sweating, and toweling/
b. Chemical (also called classic) sunscreens use chemicals as their main active ingredients. These chemicals absorb and dissipate harmful UVA and UVB rays before they penetrate the skin. Chemical sunscreens need time to absorb into the skin and form a protective layer, so you must apply them 30-minutes before sun exposure. This is another reason why mom’s with antsy kids prefer mineral … can your toddlers wait 30-minutes before running to the pool on a hot summer day?
Dr. Julie E. Russak, a prestigious dermatologist in New York City (whom I have turned to for both my own and my kids skin concerns) says that, “The most important ingredient I want my patients to look for, no matter the age, is Zinc and Titanium, both physical blockers.” These are always found in mineral sunscreens, and in some chemical creams, as well. The fabulous Dr. Russak also helped to dispel a mineral sunscreen myth. “A common and dangerous misconception unprotected sun exposure is the best and only source for Vitamin D. A much safer and effective way of getting the daily-required amount of Vitamin D, without putting yourself at risk for skin cancer is via your diet. Foods rich in vitamin D, such as eggs, fish and some dairy products are a much better alternative.”
Also on Monday 9:30pmEST / 6:30pmPST, after you put the kids to bed, grab your glass of wine and tune into Pamela+Vanessa #momsandwhine. This week we’re talking about sun-safely, crazy moms (like me) and also doing a great giveaway.