Sun Safety Tips for Babies and Kids: What I Wish We Knew in the 80s

I’m what they call a geriatric millennial. I was coming of age with the dawn of the internet, and I am therefore at least decently technologically proficient. However, my childhood consisted of few safety regulations and questionable parenting decisions. We roamed the neighborhood freely, piled as many kids as we could in the back of a station wagon with no seatbelts, and definitely did not have any sun protection. I have absolutely zero recollection of wearing sunscreen, though I have many memories of lying in bed, burned to a crisp, thinking I was an adorable sun-kissed lobster. Did I turn out ok? Sure. Might be nothing short of a miracle, but I did turn out just fine. But you better believe I’m making different choices with my own children. 

Sun Safety Tips for Babies and Kids

Photo Credit: @samantharaisingwildflowers

We know spending time outside is good for kids, with correlations with lower stress response, increased creativity, and even increased IQ. The sun is a great source of Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium! That said, I would love it if my kids didn’t visit the dermatologist at age 40 and get a lecture about how aged and damaged their skin is. Not that this happened to me, of course. So. Here are my top 3 tips to protect your child’s skin in the sun.

Tip #1 Sunscreen

You knew it was coming, and I know it can be a battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting! Get in the habit of putting sunscreen on your kiddos EVERY morning. It’s easy to remember to apply sunscreen when you’re heading to the pool, but your kiddos can get sunburned in the backyard just as easily. AND the sun’s rays still reach the earth even when it’s cool or overcast! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. You can, of course, use higher SPFs, but be aware that no sunscreen will block 100% of the sun’s rays. For kids with sensory sensitivities, spray sunscreen may be easier for them tolerate than lotion that must be rubbed in to the skin. 

The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 2 pm in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s best to avoid being outdoors during these hours if possible! If you will be outside during these hours, be sure you are applying and re-applying sunscreen on your kids (and yourself!).

Sun Safety Tips for Babies and Kids

Photo Credit: @carolinazaleta

Tip #2 Cover Up as Much as Possible

There are SO many stylish options for swimwear that cover a lot of skin (and some that have UV protection built in!). My boys are 10 and 6 years old, and they still wear swim shirts in the pool and beach to protect their torsos as much as possible. My daughter is 16 and has a collection of rash guards and long-sleeved suits to wear when we know we will be at the pool or beach for long periods of time. Hats and sunglasses are both great ways to protect your face. 

Sun Safety Tips for Babies and Kids

Photo Credit: @lariievellyn 

Mamas of babies 6 months and younger: keep that precious babe as covered up as possible! Babies this young have thinner skin than older kiddos, burn easier, AND they can’t tell you when they’re in pain. Keep these little ones in the shade, with big precious baby hats, and a light layer of long sleeves and long pants. 

Tip #3 Use Sunshades

Large beach and patio umbrellas can double as a sunshade, too! Think sunshade or umbrella for everything – even your stroller or play yard should be covered outside! Regalo Baby has this sun shade in two sizes that fits over the top of their play yards. 

 If your child does get sunburned, don’t panic! Aloe is generally the best thing to treat the skin, with both a healing and cooling effect. A little acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with the pain, too. As we move into summer, keep those little ones protected! They might fight you today, but they will thank you when they’re 40 with flawless skin. 

Header Image Credit: @_thegummymummy

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