With summer all around us, there’s nothing our kids want to do more than sprint outside, find the nearest body of water, and dive right in. This is a good thing – because fun in the sun actually has great health benefits: it keeps them active, reduces their dependence on electronic devices, and helps them boost their immunity through vitamin D production. But with all those benefits comes a few very real dangers.
The Risks of Sun Overexposure
The sun’s powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays can be seriously damaging to our health, and especially so with our children’s often sensitive skin. Repeated sunburns are not only painful, but can result in future dry and wrinkled skin, dark spots, and skin cancer. The actions we take now can protect our children years down the line. So with that said, let’s take a look at some absolutely essential sun safety tips for kids, for a summer filled with joy for them, and peace of mind for you.
Spread the Sunscreen
We cannot stress enough the importance of a good sunscreen. Don’t go any less than SPF 30, and be sure to apply it 30 minutes before your child goes out. Make sure to put some on yourself too, so they can start learning the habit early on. When applying, don’t forget those hard-to-remember spots that parents often miss: the ears, nose, lips, and tops of feet. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after they’ve been in the water, sweating, or using a towel.
Slide on the Shades
UV rays not only adversely affect your child’s skin, but their eyes as well. Too much exposure directly in the eyes can lead to cataracts later in their lives. So make sure to give them sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays (or as close as possible). If they’re really active, bouncy kids, get yourself a sunglass strap that can wrap around their head.
Hang Their Hats (on Their Heads, That Is)
A wide-brimmed hat with a chin strap is a perfect way to give your kid some sun safety unconsciously. Once they’ve got their hat on, they can forget it, focusing on the much more important tasks of running around and playing. A good hat will shield their faces from the sun’s UV rays, especially when it’s at its strongest and directly overhead, around noon. Try and get them a hat with a 360º brim to protect the back of their necks as well.
Sun Up, Suit Up
Throwing on a turtleneck and pants when your child is ready to run out and play is a less than ideal option for most parents. Firstly, children typically want less clothing on during the summer, not more. And secondly, you might actually run the risk of overheating your child, which comes with its own serious problems. One easy way around this, while at the beach or a pool, is to dress them in a kid-sized wetsuit. It’ll not only shield much of their body from the sun, it also looks cool, too.
Hide from High Noon
When the clock strikes 12 (or a little before/after that, depending on where you live), get your child in some shade. Noon is when the sun’s rays are strongest, so try and find a clever way to disguise the fact that you’re getting your kid out of the sun. Try starting them earlier, and bring them in for a nice long lunch. That time in the shade will be super beneficial to their health, and you can give them some extra time outside when the day starts to wane.
We hope you can follow these sun safety tips for kids, to give your whole family a fun, active, and safe summer. At Coastal Kids, the health and well-being of all of our little patients is our #1 priority. Our team of qualified pediatricians and nurse practitioners are here to give your children the absolute best care possible, with a warm heart and helping hand. So go ahead and get out there, summer’s waiting.