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Experts estimate that we get about 80 percent of our total lifetime sun exposure in the first 18 years of life, and for even for the tiniest of tots, sun protection is crucial.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its policy statement on the use of sunscreen for children younger than six months old, stating that there is no evidence that using sunscreen on small areas of an infant's skin causes harm.
But the academy's primary recommendation is to dress infants in lightweight pants and long-sleeved shirts, said Lee Woodruff, contributing editor of Family Fun magazine.
Meanwhile, Woodruff says sun protection goes beyond just sunscreen and long-sleeves. Check out some of her suggestions below.
UV Protective Bathing Suits: Some bathing suits are now made with UV protective material, but it is still recommended that sunscreen be applied underneath the bathing suit for double protection. It is also a good idea for all the children in your child's group to wear the same color bathing suit so that they will be easy to identify on the beach, Woodruff said. The price of the bathing suit that covers shoulders and back is made of UV protective material ranges from $38 to $42, shoes, $18, hat $18. (www.tugasunwear.com) Fun Sunscreen: Sunscreen for children comes in fun colors like pink or purple, which makes kids more likely to want to apply it. Instead of having your child sit still while you apply sunscreen, try a new suntan spray that allows you to spritz children, even if they are running away. Wear a watch or timer that lets you know when it's time for another application of sunscreen, Woodruff said. Get Kids Involved: Kids are more apt to want to protect themselves from the sun if you get them involved, Woodruff said. Try having your child decorate their sunglasses or flip flops using a glue gun and some glitter, for instance, and they may be more likely to wear them. Liquids:If your children say they are thirsty, that means they are already dehydrated, Woodruff said. Watch their fluid intake, especially when the sun is beating down on them. Again, allow kids to decorate their water bottles or sippy cups so that they feel a sense of ownership. Buy water bottles that come with straps so that kids can keep them on their bodies at all times. (Playskool insulated strawcup keeps drinks cool, $6.99)
Aadditional sun safety tips:
It is best to avoid the midday sun and its intense rays. Try to schedule outdoor activities before 10 .a.m. and after 4 p.m. The sun is stronger when reflected off the water, white sand and snow.
Use sunscreens that protect against both UVB and UVA rays. Look for products that contain broad-spectrum ingredients such as avobenzone or zinc oxide.
Even on cloudy days, 80 percent of the sun's rays can penetrate through the clouds and cause sunburn, so wear an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
ABCs of Fun in the Sun
The American Academy of Dermatology suggests teaching your children the ABCs for having fun in the sun.
A = Away. Stay away from the sun in the middle of the day. B = Block. Use SPF15 or higher sunscreen. C = Cover Up. Wear a T-shirt and hat. S = Speak Out. Talk to family and friends about sun protection.
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