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make the sun safe for kids with these helpful tips

5 Tips for Meltdown-Free Sunblock Application on Toddlers

There isn’t anything more peaceful than a day at the beach? The sun on your face, salt in your hair, and the sounds of your children distracted and playing… That is, of course, until you try to apply sunblock to your children. Then the peaceful sounds of the ocean get drowned out by screams and cries, as you chase your child through the sand trying to make the sun safe for your kids.sunscreen meltdowns for toddlers

Make the Sun Safe for Your Kids and Avoid Toddler Meltdowns

If your children are anything like mine, applying sunblock is an impossible task. However, providing proper sun protection is as important is having your child wear a seatbelt in the car or a helmet while riding a bike.

Your child getting a sunburn, even just once every 2 years, can triple their risk of melanoma skin cancer.

So today we’re sharing 5 tips to successfully apply sunblock to your child without the meltdown.

1. Get them involved.

The best way to get a child to do something is to let them be part of the process. Help them pack their own beach bag! Let them pick out their own beach toys. Help them fill their water bottle and put their sunblock in their bag.

Never underestimate the importance of talking to you toddler. They are able to understand more than we think. Many times if you explain to them that their skin gets sick without this special lotion, they are more willing to let you apply sunblock.

2. Give them choices.

It is important to establish that wearing sunblock is an absolute must, but giving your child certain choices allows them to feel like they are in control of the process.

Do some research on what sunblocks work best for your family and narrow it down to a few brands. Then let your child make the final decision of which sunblock they want to use. My kids prefer a sunblock stick for the face and a spray for their bodies.

You can even let them pick which body part they want to apply sunblock to first. Maybe even let your child start applying the sunblock first, making them feel like it was their idea in the first place. Many times they become distracted when they are applying the sunblock, and you can quickly apply it to the rest of their body.

3. Imitation is the best form of flattery.

There is nothing more powerful than a younger sibling’s desire to be just like their big brother or sister.

When my daughter, Charlee, was a toddler, she would do anything her brother asked her to do! Sometimes I would have Mason start to apply the sunblock on his sister, and I would finish up.

If you are traveling to the beach or pool with more than two children, a sunblock train is always a fun way to get the kids to apply sunblock. Please remember to double check their work to be sure the kids are properly covered.

4. Appeal to their senses.

My daughter’s favorite sunblock is a company based out of Miami called Miami CoolKids. Not only is the brand 100% natural, but it smells like cookies!

If your child loves glitter, you are in luck! There is this really fun company called Sunshine & Glitter, that not only allows your child to choose the color glitter he or she wants, but they have different scents as well.

If you don’t mind a little mess, Zinka makes all different colored zinc oxide sunblock.

5. Sunblock is not enough.

Although sunblocks and sticks are imperative, physical barriers such as SPF clothing, umbrellas, and shade are equally as important.

There are so many adorable bikinis in the stores for little girls this summer. But close your eyes and walk away! They are an absolute NO-NO when it comes to sun protection.

Rash guards, hats, and sunglasses are imperative to sun protection. Make sure to take frequent breaks from the sun and stay hydrated.

Checklist to Ensure Proper Sun Protection for Kids

Use this important checklist to ensure your sunscreen provides proper sun protection for your kids:

1. Make sure your sunblock is broad spectrum.

Broad spectrum means it protects against UVA and UVB radiation rays. The UVA rays can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and damage that can lead to skin cancer. The UVB rays can cause your skin to burn. All the information you need is on the label.

2. Make sure your sunscreen has a high SPF.

It is important your sunblock is a minimum of SPF 30 as it blocks 97% of the UVB rays when applied (and re-applied) correctly.

3. Make sure to use enough.

When lathering yourself or your kids with sunscreen, the total amount needed is roughly one ounce. That’s about the size of a golf ball, which is a helpful way to visualize how much sunscreen you need for proper coverage.

While one ounce for an entire body may seem like a lot, for adults that is often what it takes!

Using sun protective clothing can also help reduce the surface area you have to cover!

4. Make sure you apply at the right time.

Ideally, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. And then re-apply based on your activity. Sunscreen needs to be re-applied AT LEAST every 2 hours or more frequently if you are getting wet or sweating.

One helpful way to remember that it’s time to re-apply sunscreen is to set a timer on your phone.

Make sure to read the label on your sunblock because it will specify how long the sunscreen will remain water-resistant. With high outdoor activity, a good rule of thumb is to re-apply sunscreen every hour of play to be on the safe side.

5. Make sure to apply sprays appropriately.

Never spray sunscreen directly on a child’s face. Spray it on your hands and then apply it to his/her face. Have children hold their breath and close their eyes when you spray sunscreen on them.

Final Thoughts to Make the Sun Safe for Kids

Making the sun safe for your kids doesn’t have to be hard, even if they wiggle and squirm and try to make it impossible! Try to make it fun for them, and always stress the importance of keeping their skin protected in the sun. Chances are, your kiddos will want to keep their skin safe just as much as you do!

Have a fun and SAFE summer!

~Dr. Katie

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