The southern heat has started to settle in here which has a lot of us thinking about properly protecting ourselves and our family from dangerous UV rays. While everyone should take precautions against the sun, infants and children need to be especially careful. Kids are much more sensitive to the sun than adults and early life sunburns can be very harmful to young ones.
As part of their Sun Safety Campaign, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together a comprehensive guide on how to practice smart sun habits to protect you and your loved ones from the risk of developing skin cancer – the most common and deadliest form of cancer.
Here are some smart sun tips for protecting your children this summer:
- Plan your day around the sun. Go outside early in the morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. Avoid direct sunlight during the peak UV times from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.
- Stay shady. Keep kids in the shade or bring an umbrella/tent when possible. It’s never advised to bring a baby under 6 months of age in the sun as they don’t have the melatonin needed to protect their skin.
- Cover up. Dark colored shirts are great for blocking the sun. In fact, clothing may be more effective than sunscreen since the SPF of sunscreens is usually less than what is indicated on the bottle and wears off over time. Clothing made with UFP (ultraviolet protection) can also add protection against the sun.
- Accessories are key. Hats and sunglasses are also important for keeping harmful rays from your body and eyes. It can sometimes be difficult to get children to wear these, but they add another layer of protection from UV rays.
- Invest in proper swim wear. Sun-protective rash guards are excellent choices for children. Rash guards contain UFP that is extremely effective for blocking the sun during prolonged exposure. I love the ones by OshKosh B’Gosh.
- Use sunscreen as your last resort. I put this at the end because many people assume that sunblock is all you need when, in fact, it should be added last – after all the other items above. Apply often and liberally.
Best sunscreens for kids
Searching for sunscreens can be overwhelming. With so many products on the market, it can be hard to determine the right ones for your kids. Children often have sensitive skin and need products that won’t irritate them when applied. For the 2016 Guide to Sunscreens, EWG analyzed more than 100 sunscreens marketed for babies and kids.
They recently published their report of the 22 best scoring sunscreens for kids. You can view the results here.
The EWG examined products that were specifically marketed to children and babies. The best lotions scored a 1 and a “green” in EWG’s database. The lower the score, the lower the possibility of the product containing hazardous ingredients, and the better the product.
Want to see how your sunscreen measures up? Visit, the EWG’s sunscreen page, and enter your product in the search box.
I’ve started using COOLA and I really like it. It’s a bit more expensive than the other brands, but it will last us the whole summer. It’s chemical-free, contains no parabens, and ultra-water resistant. It received a really great score from EWG as well.
The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. If you want to learn more about their research and community involvement, please visit their website.