It’s that time of the year when, even in rainy England, your toddler faces direct exposure to strong sunlight. Here’s a few tips on how to keep them safe.
Pick the right sun cream
The higher factor of sun cream you choose the better protection your toddler will get from the sun, but there are other things to consider too. The NHS advise using cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above that’s effective against UVA and UVB. If you can find one with 4 or 5 stars, even better.
You don’t have to buy the most expensive brand on the market as long as the factor, SPF and star rating is good. We use a basic children’s Factor 50 from Tesco, and I’ve always found Riemann P20 to be very good (if a little pricey).
And keep putting it on!
The shoulders and back of the neck are prime areas for toddlers to get sunburnt, so keep applying cream throughout the day. And if your little monster still has a baldy head like my little lad Sonny, make sure you slap plenty on there too.
If your experience is anything like mine your kid is likely to hate having sun cream rubbed in, but that’s not a good enough excuse not to do it. We tend to reapply cream every couple of hours, and even more regularly if Sonny’s been thrashing around in his paddling pool and washing it all off.
Keep your kid covered up
You don’t particularly need specialist gear for this, but make sure most of your toddler’s skin is covered up. An oversized t-shirt is a good start, and a specialist sun suit is even better. We’ve tried out a few options and this Sun Jumpsuit from Isbjorn of Sweden is my favourite. Not only does it keep the sun off Sonny’s skin, it also has a sun protection rating of 50+ and makes my 15-month-old boy look like a surfer, which is always a winner! And this Gruffalo Poncho Towel from Little Life is an awesome way to dry him off when he gets out of the paddling pool.
The NHS website also suggests looking for sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the “CE” mark. Check the label before buying if you aren’t sure.
Buy a big hat! (the dafter the better)
Nothing complicated about this – just get a big floppy hat with a wide brim or peak that keeps the sun off their bonce, face and neck. Sonny’s tried everything from shark, crocodile and penguin hats to furry ones with floppy ears and the stupid straw ones that hipsters wear at festivals, but we’re just happy with anything he actually keeps on his head for more than 10 seconds without throwing it into the bushes.
Seek out the shade
Because we get so little sun in this country, most of us tend to plonk ourselves in it for as long as possible when it does come out – me included. But toddlers don’t care about sun tans, so do them a favour and keep them out of it. We’ve even managed to find a paddling pool with its own sunshade, which you can angle away from the sun so Sonny can splash around happily in the shade. A little parasol for the pram, or a trike or baby carrier with a built-in sunshade are also very useful purchases.
Avoid peak sunshine hours
As a general rule the sun is at its most powerful between 11-3pm, which is fortunate because if your child’s anything like mine they’ll either be guzzling lunch or fast asleep for a large chunk of that time. This isn’t to say that you can’t be out in the sun during those hours, but if you are then make sure you pick a spot with plenty of shade.
Keep them hydrated
Toddlers charge around A LOT and burn through tons of energy. When the temperature increases and the sun’s beating down on them, that puts them at a higher risk of things like heat exhaustion if they’re getting all hot and sweaty. Make sure they drink plenty of fluids (water is great!) and try a few other tricks like cooling their skin with a wet flannel.
The sun has obvious elements of danger attached to it, but it’s also a great thing you should all enjoy as a family. Even young children can handle some exposure to the sun’s rays so don’t be afraid to go outside. Just make sure you fend off any issues before they become a problem, and if you’re well prepared you have nothing to worry about.