We have all read the research. We all know the damage that the sun’s rays can cause. We all slop on our sunblock every morning, before we go outside. We all know and do this, but “we” aren’t children. Children don’t know any of these very important facts. All children know is that the sun is shining and they want to get outside and PLAY. They know that stopping to put on sticky sunscreen is the LAST thing they want to do. So, what do we do? How do we get the sunblock on and the message through to those little people? I put this question out to the facebook community and have come up with a few tips and tricks to make sunblock application run a little bit smoother.
Make it a habit
It’s true that you should not apply sunblock to children under the age of 6 months, those little ones need to be out of the sun altogether. However, as soon as your child is on the move it is time to make sunblock just another part of getting ready to go outside. Store a bottle of sunblock at the front door, out in the open, so you don’t forget. Every time you go to head outside, put on the sunblock, then the shoes. By making it another step in the “getting ready” process it becomes second nature to kids.
It isn’t always easy to convince a child to stop and put on lotion…especially a young child. We’ve developed a simple game called “Dots and Squiggles.” When the sunblock bottle comes out, I ask my girls “do you want dots or squiggles?” Whatever they request is the pattern in which I apply the sunblock. The giggles start when the cool lotion hits their warm skin. Make it fun for kids; write their name or draw a picture.
Trial and error
Finding the right sunblock for your child might take some trial and error shopping. Some blocks are too sticky, some are too dry, some kids don’t like the smell, etc. While it may seem like you are throwing your money out the window buying a new sunblock every week, you aren’t. This is a long term investment in your child’s health, finding a block that suits their skin is worth every penny.
Take help where you can get it
There is no need to solely rely on sunblock for protection from the sun. Don’t forget to throw a hat on your child’s head. Around here my girls love going for walks with their inexpensive parasols…a great sun blocker. When you are heading to the outdoor pool check out the many, many options for UV protecting swimwear for kids. When my girls were very little they loved splashing around in their suits that covered their neck, upper arms and upper legs. Physical barriers to the sun are just as effective as sunblock.
At some point kids grow up (so I’ve been told). Sunblock application will be their personal responsibility. So, how do we help them then? Hopefully, by starting the habit at a young age they will be more apt to put on sunblock. This is a great opportunity to sit with your child and teach them about the affects of sun damage, which can be quite severe. I am a realist parent, I “tell it like it is” to my kids. Sure they won’t remember every single time they go outside. But, if they remember the majority of the time then I think you’ve done a great job.
Do you have any tips for getting sunblock on little ones? Please share you insights in the comments below.