What You Need to Know about Sun Protection

Sun safety tips for parents

By Kathryn Trudeau

School is just about over, which means summer vacation is oh so close. Whether you are planning a family vacation to a tropical island, buying a membership to the zoo,  or plan on visiting every splash pad within a 25-mile radius of your house, chances are you’ll have plenty of time in the sun this summer.  But… safety first: before you get carried away with fun, make sure everyone stays safe! 

  1. General safety rules: From zoo trips to hikes to pool parties, these rules will keep everyone safe and happy.
  2. Sun safety: Nobody wants to be a burnt lobster!

This article will break down all you need to know about sun safety.

First Things First: Why We Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen has three superhero benefits:

  1. Protects you and your little ones from getting sunburned
  2. Reduces your risk of skin cancer
  3. Protects your skin from photo-damage (think: fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation)

Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide.  Zinc physically blocks the harmful UV rays from your skin, but it has another benefit: because it is an extremely stable ingredient, it won’t break down in the bottle like a chemical sunscreen might.

Bonus: Zinc is a calming ingredient (which is why it is in most diaper creams) so if you happen to have any blemishes, the zinc will help calm and soothe your skin. Win win for Mama!

It’s All About the Timing

Here’s a tricky thing about sunscreen: you have to put it on beforeyou even go outside. It takes about 15 -30 minutes for your skin to soak up the sunscreen and be fully protected from the sun. So it’s best to plan ahead before you rush out the door. If you’re already at the pool, lather up while you’re still in the lockerroom.

You’ll also need to reapply your sunscreen every two hours. This is especially important if you or your kids have been in the pool or have been playing sports or sweating excessively. Hot tip: Try to time the re-apply sessions so that your kids are already taking a break when you need to re-apply. Lunch or snack time is a great time to get everyone to convene again.

It’s Not for Babies

Babies may seem like the ideal candidate for sunscreen with their thin skin and bald little heads, but sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. Don’t fret – there’s plenty of options to keep baby safe in the sun.

  1. Bucket hat or bonnet: Choose a hat that covers not only baby’s head but also her ears
  2. Stay in the shade, if possible
  3. Use an umbrella: Even if it’s not raining, an umbrella can be handy! Use it for when shade is hard to find but you still need to be outside. It’s literally bringing the shade wherever you go.
  4. Use the hood of your baby carrier, if you are babywearing
  5. Dress baby in lightweight, loose clothing and keep skin covered as much as possible. Keep an extra outfitin the diaper bag in case baby sweats through the first outfit.
  6. Limit playtime during the peak sun hours of 10 am – 4 pm.
  7. Avoid draping a blanket over the car seat or stroller; that makes the air temperature extremely hot inside the little “tent” ; instead, purchase a sun screen that is designed for that purpose and allows for air flow.

Dress for the Sun

You’ve heard the expression “Dress for the weather” and  dressing for the sun definitely falls into that category. Many kids’ clothes now come with option of having UV protection built in. From sun hats to swimming suits to hiking shirts, clothing with UV protections take the sun protection game up a notch.

Medications and Essential Oils

Some medications and certain essential oils are photosensitive, which means that they make you more sensitive to the sun. If you take certain antibiotics or use citrus essential oils topically, you may want to avoid the sun.

Soak up the Benefits

Now that all the safety rules have been established, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sun! Not only will your kids get a dose of vitamin D, but they’ll get a mood boost and they’ll sleep better at night. Yes, really! Spending time outdoors in the sunlight helps reset your circadian rhythm!

Do you have a tried-and-true sun safety tip?


Katie TrudeauKathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at  www.katietrudeau.com 

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