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Here Comes The Sunscreen

My apologies to the Beatles and
“Abby Road” . . .

Yes, it’s time once again for that smell of fake coconut oil
and the white streaks of zinc oxide on all your clothing. Crack
open a bottle of sunscreen, and slather up.

Of course, if you’re like us, you’ve already been
wearing it for several months now – I’m obsessive about
sunscreen and hats when the weather turns mildly warm – but
even the most die-hard tanners know this is not the friendly sun we
grew up with, and it’s time to get serious and protect the
kiddos (and ourselves!) from those dangerous rays.

So first line of defense, obviously, is
the clothing. Always, always, always put a hat on – freckles
may be cute, but they’re a sign of sun damage, and
that’s not healthy! And the single best way to get your baby
or toddler to wear a hat is to wear one yourself, which of course
is good for you too. Maddie knows that if she takes her hat off, we
go inside. It’s just that simple. She even wears a hat in the
pool, unless she’s going to all the way underwater. After
all, babies and toddlers can get a scalp burn rather easily! Look
for something wide-brimmed all around to shade the face and neck.

And the rest of the clothing’s important too- swimsuits
especially are an easy place to cover up. We’ll dress in
little play suits if we’re going to be outside getting hot
and sweaty, since I know we’ll mostly be in the shade and
covered in sunscreen, but if we’re going to be in the water I
can easily put them in those shirts and board shorts that are SPF
50; the water will keep them cool, and the fabric protects them and
provides less surface area for the sun to find. You can easily buy
SPF swim clothing at target="_blank">One Step Ahead or many other baby stores.

But then you get to the crucial part – sunscreen. Again,
Maddie knows that if she doesn’t submit, we won’t go
outside, and if she doesn’t hold still for mid-play
reapplications, we go home.

If you’re really concerned about what sort of sunscreen to
use, check out Environmental Working Group’s href="http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens/summary.php"
comparing brands. In a study they
released last year, Only 14% of the products on the market were
deemed both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB
radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any
ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards.
Some sunscreens failed miserably at protection, while others
contain ingredients the EWG considers suspect. So look yours up and
see how it compares, but remember, ANY sunscreen is better than
none at all. And in general, you’re looking for one
that’s got a high SPF number, is waterproof to last longer on
kids, and is broad-spectrum for both UVA and UVB rays. If you buy
something specifically formulated for kids or babies, you’re
most likely buying something that’s less painful if rubbed in
the eyes, and marginally healthier for the body. We use a lot of
target="_blank">California Baby products, which are
incidentally rated very highly on the EWG-run Cosmetics Database
website, and Aveeno Baby sunscreen products (also highly rated) are
our go-to sunscreen at the drugstore in a pinch. Blue Lizard, an
Australian brand you can find at One Step Ahead, is the other kind
we use regularly.

On a general note, the AAP recommends avoiding sunscreen if
possible for babies under 6 months; they’d much rather you
keep them well covered and out of the sun instead, since their skin
is so fragile. After that, it’s best to look for something
geared towards baby’s tender skin for a few months. Remember,
too, that sunscreen takes a while to sink in – it’s
best to apply it 20 minutes before heading out so you’ll be
protected right away.

And as a last word on the sunscreen, keep some in the diaper bag
whether you’re expecting to need it or not. We keep a small
sample-size tub of the California Baby SPF/bug combo, but the real
savior for my diaper bag is the invention of the suncreen wipes. I
keep a couple of the href="http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=534591&parentCategoryId=100180&categoryId=100182&subCategoryId=117293"
target="_blank">Sunblankee Towelettes
in the diaper bag,
and then always have something on hand to use if we spontaneously
hit the zoo or somesuch.

So have no fear as you try to figure out how to let your kiddo have
fun and stay burn-free. There are products out there that will
definitely give you what you’re looking for. And then you can
pack up and head outside for another sweltering day in the heat,
knowing at least your skin is protected.


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