Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Get Ready for Summer: Keeping kids Sun-safe

By: Dyan Eybergen BA, RN

Long gone are the days where we paid very little attention to protecting our skin from the UV rays. We didn't know what we know now about sun causing melanoma cancers, wrinkles and skin discolouration. And we were certainly not aware that skin has a memory and that sun damage at an early age remains throughout life. So it makes sense to protect our little ones from the sun from an early age, decreasing their chances of developing these conditions later in life.

At what age can you apply sunscreen on a baby?

The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) suggests that infants can start wearing sunscreen at six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the best way to protect an infant is by keeping baby out of direct sunlight under the shade of a tree or stroller umbrella, by outfitting them in wide brimmed hats, long sleeves and pants and by limiting their time spent outdoors. If that is not possible, however, the AAP suggests it is okay to use a small amount of sunscreen on a baby's face and hands, regardless of age. Patricia Treadwill, an American pediatric dermatoligist recommends using a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium as it is not absorbed by the the skin but works by sitting on top of the dermis providing a barrier from the sun's rays. Although sunscreens undergo riforous safety trials and there is no evidence to date that suggests it harmfull, Treadwill admits that we do not know enough yet about the toxicity of sunscreen and suggests it's is better to be safe than sorry.

What is the difference between sunscreens made for adults and those made for kids?

Children's formulations may be somewhat milder but in actuality there is little difference. It is important to test suncreens on a small area of a children's skin and wait to see if they have a reaction before lathering it all over their body.

What happens if sunscreen gets in my child's eye?

Having younger children rub sunscreen in their eyes or put their hands in the mouth is the risk we parents take. It's a good idea in this regard to accustom babies to wearing UV sunglasses. Suncreens can cause irritation, especially if it gets in the eyes. Should this happen, the best solution is to flush with water for 10 to 15 minutes and see your doctor if the irritation continues.

How can I encourage my children to put on suncreen without a fuss?

Making sunscreen application the morning routine should be a year-round ritual--rays from the sun can cause skin damage no matter the season. Make it a rule that no one, including adults can leave the house without applying suncsreen. By having suncreen products readily available -- at the front door, in the glove compartment and in mom's purse -- you increase the chance that everyone will remember that it need be applied.



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