What kind of sun protection should I use for my child?

Want to smother your little one in sunscreen, but you’re just not sure which one will be the best sunscreen for sensitive skin? Here’s our guide to finding the best sunblock for your child.

Children love the outdoors; they love running around the park, swimming at the beach, looking for critters in long grass, and swimming in the pool all summer long. The great outdoors is a wonderful thing for children, offering an amazing world of imagination and learning that their minds soak up like a sponge. Let’s be honest, we’d all prefer to have our kids running around outside, rather than staring at a screen. That’s why we all look forward to the glorious summer days of fun in the sun.

Keep in mind, however, that the outdoors tends to mean sun exposure. It’s absolutely essential that you prepare for these days with the right sun protection for your child. But what kind of SPF sunscreen should you pack and what is the best sunblock for your child?

Here’s a handy guide on how to choose the best sunscreen for sensitive skin found on little ones.

1. Remember that your child’s skin is ultra-sensitive

If you didn’t know, your child’s skin is in fact three times more sensitive to UV rays than yours is. There’s a simple reason for this! Children’s skin is new and therefore a lot thinner than adult skin. They are also not as adept at regulating their body’s temperature control as we are. This means that babies and young children are extra susceptible to sunburn, sunstroke, and dehydration.

Most skin damage is done by the time we turn 18 and this means that looking after your child’s skin should be a priority.

What is the SPF meaning?

While most people know that they must wear sunscreen and that they come with an SPF factor, not everyone knows what this means. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it refers to the amount of protection the sunscreen lotion has in the sun before you get sunburnt.

How long does sunscreen last? SPF comes in different factors, from 10 to SPF 15, 20, 30 and 50+. So, for example, if you have an SPF 30 it means that the sunscreen is offering 30 times more protection against the sun’s rays than your skin naturally would.

2. From what age can I apply sunscreen to my child?

Baby skin is super delicate and it’s sensitive to chemicals and other irritants that could cause a reaction. Due to this sensitivity, it’s advised that you only apply baby sunscreen to your child after they have passed the 6-month mark. Before this, try and put your baby in sun protective clothing like a sun protective hat and make sure that they have neck sun protection. Alternatively, keep your baby in the shade or in a stroller with a cover.

3. Physical versus mineral sunscreen

Sunscreen for kids comes in two different types: physical and chemical sunblock. Physical sunscreens are usually mineral-based. The minerals in this sunscreen help to reflect the UV rays off your child’s skin. On the other hand, chemical sunblock uses chemicals to absorb the UV rays into the cream rather than letting it get into the skin.

Dermatologists recommend using mineral sunscreen spray or sunscreen lotion for your child. Chemicals could be harsh and irritate your child’s skin, that’s why it’s also the best face sunscreen for sensitive skin.

4. What ingredients and SPF should I look for?

When choosing the best sunscreen for kids, it’s important to choose non-toxic formulas. These are normally found in mineral-based sunscreens that contain ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Keep in mind that you should also look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that will protect your child against both UVA and UVB rays. Ensure that you try and find an SPF of 30 or higher to protect their delicate skin.

Look for a moisturizing sunscreen with hydrating and soothing properties to ensure that your child’s skin isn’t just protected, but nurtured and nourished too. A perspiration and water-resistant formula is ideal to keep sunblock from dripping into eyes.

5. Application tips for your toddler

Getting sunscreen onto children can be like trying to get clothes onto a cat; they almost always put up an almighty fight. Here are some application tips for the best sunscreen for toddlers:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going into the sun. Then reapply every two hours after the first application. If your child is swimming then put on sunscreen as soon as they get out of the water
  • Don’t forget about the sensitive places like the back of the neck, nose, and eyes
  • Make putting sunscreen on fun for the kids. Try playing a game, making funny faces, using a paintbrush, or even syncing it with snack time

6. Keep them out of the sun

At the end of the day, the best sun protection for your child’s skin is to keep them protected from the sun in the first place. Thin and delicate skin makes children prone to sunburn, sunstroke, and dehydration. Try to keep your children as protected as possible, especially from 10 am till 2 pm when the sun is the hottest. Ensure that you cover them up if they are playing outdoors, using SPF clothing, hats, and long sleeves as protection against the sun. Small babies should be kept under the shade or in a well-protected stroller at all times.

We know that sometimes it’s impossible to keep your child away from the outdoors and we wouldn’t want to deny them the wondrous privilege anyway. So, if your child is going to have some time in the sun, remember to pack the best sunscreen for kids.

Remember that if your child does get sunburnt, then you should immediately take them out of the sun, get them to drink water, and apply after sun care.

Enjoy the great outdoors!

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