We know how hard it is trying to keep your children sun safe. With little ones squirming while you try to apply sunscreen and then pulling off hats and sunglasses, it can be a challenge to keep children protected from the sun’s harsh rays during summer - but it is one of the most important things you can do for your children. Too much sun exposure can not only be painful but can cause permanent damage to the skin, eyes and immune system.
We all need some sun exposure in order to make vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones which is particularly important for small children. However, it only takes a short time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they require.
The team at New Shoots in Westgate suggest the following tips to keep children sun safe:
Play in the shade - Especially when the sun is strongest (usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). UV rays are strongest and most harmful around midday, so it’s best to plan indoor activities during this time. If you are outside during the day, seek shade under a tree, an umbrella, a pop-up tent, or for babies the hood of a stroller.
Cover up - One of the best ways to protect skin is to cover up. Dress your child in sun-protective clothing, such as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt and pants. To make sure clothes offer enough protection, put your hand inside garments to ensure you can’t see it through them.
Put on a hat - Hats that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck are easy to use and give great protection. Just be mindful that while baseball caps are popular among children, they don’t protect their ears and neck so be sure to protect any exposed areas with sunscreen.
Wear sunglasses - Sun exposure can damage the eyes as well as the skin. Sunglasses protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Look for sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible. Make it fun and let children pick their own pair. You can find sunglasses with multi-coloured frames or cartoon characters that your children will love.
Apply sunscreen - Use sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 and UVA and UVB protection and apply generously at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet. Reapply every two hours, as well as after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Try to minimise sunscreen use on children younger than 6 months old by using the tips above as a first measure. If you do need to apply sunscreen to your baby, sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are less likely to irritate a baby’s sensitive skin.
Stay safe on hot days - In addition to sun protection, stay safe on hot days by making sure your child does not overheat and drinks plenty of fluids. If your child is fussy or has redness on any exposed skin, take them indoors immediately.
If you’re interested in learning more about New Shoots Children’s Centres, you can visit www.newshoots.co.nz.