Ah, spring time in Seattle – the time of year where you can see the cherry blossoms in their full glory at the University of Washington, baby ducklings at Green Lake, convertible owners with the tops down on a sunny 60 degree day, socks with sandals (because it’s not really warm enough to just wear sandals) and a year’s worth of seasons in a single day.
We have had some amazingly warm, sunny days recently. I love it that the kids can get outside so much! In many ways I am extremely ready for the nice weather, but at the same time it can catch me off guard. If you’re anything like me, your recent activities may have included furiously scrubbing the water table or kiddie pool out, digging through a box of clothes to find sun hats, and crossing my fingers that last year’s shorts still fit!
The recent sunny weather also left me scrambling to find some sunscreen leftover from last year.
So I needed sunscreen in May. In Seattle. Amazing. And, I was indeed able to locate last year’s sunscreen and lotion up the crew so we could all enjoy the sun safely. Check and check.
Satisfied with my work, I returned the bottle of sunscreen to the bathroom. That’s when I saw the expiration date – and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I was overdue to buy some new sunscreen!
At a recent well-baby check with our pediatrician, he recommended selecting a sunscreen for the kids that goes onto the skin easily. He said that sometimes the sunscreen can go on really thick and is difficult to rub onto the skin, and parents report this keeps them from reapplying as frequently as they should. That is definitely an important piece of information that can be found absolutely nowhere on the actual bottle of sunscreen (although, in my experience the mineral-based ones tend to be thicker).
I have never found a sunscreen for my kids that I have really loved, so I was open to trying something new. I tend to get a little overwhelmed with all of the options out there. And, like many parents, I don’t want to just grab anything off the shelf at the store. I want a recommendation from another parent for a sunscreen that they LOVE and that works well for their kids!
A recent discussion between several Seattle parents yielded these top recommendations:
Thinkbaby (Recommended by six parents): Those recommending this brand really love it. However, several people in the group said their children burned wearing this sunscreen.
Blue Lizard (Recommended by five parents): People reeeally had a lot of great things to say about this one – dermatologists, parents, and preschool teachers alike swear by this brand. I’m trying this one next!
Babyganics (Recommended by four parents): This is what I picked up to try out the other day. The tube of lotion does go on a bit thick, but it wasn’t terribly difficult to rub onto the skin. I especially love how easy the spray lotion is to apply! It’s very lightweight and seems to protect the skin well.
Beautycounter (Recommended by four parents): Apparently they recently improved upon their formulation and are now offering a spray option.
Alba Baby (Recommended by two parents): People who use this were a little “meh” about it, yet recommended it nonetheless.
It’s not enough to have an amazing sunscreen – it has to be used properly to reap the benefits! This includes applying it before you go outside and reapplying per the instructions on the label.
I love the following tips and reminders from three mom-bloggers on The Today Show – Seattle Mama Doc blogger Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, The Soccer Moms blogger Shell Roush, and Globetrotting Mommy blogger Lyla Gleason:
- Consider alternative ways to protect children from the sun. This includes utilizing sun protective clothing like SPF hats and shirts, and seeking out shade from the sun when possible. Use sunscreen generously on the areas where skin is not protected by clothing. Don’t forget sunglasses with UV protection for those little eyes!
- Create a routine early on. If your children always have worn swim shirts when swimming outside, they won’t know any differently! Swanson says, “The privilege of getting to do this fun activity comes with the responsibility of taking care of our skin while we do it…these are just good habits that we can create.”
- Apply 30 minutes prior being out in the sun for the best protection. Sunscreen works best when applied well before heading outside. Roush puts sunscreen on her three boys right before they leave their house for the beach so her kids can jump into the water as soon as they arrive.
- Put sunscreen on toddlers while they’re strapped in the car seat. (Ideally do this before arriving at your destination.) I’ll be honest – this struck me as a little odd. How do you get the sunscreen on all the places you need to? I suppose it’s easier if they are wearing a swim shirt and getting lotion on their back is not necessary. The reasoning here is that toddlers are squirmy, so having their ability to wiggle around or away from you is limited 🙂
- Try to make the process fun! Apparently sunscreen with glitter is a thing for those kiddos who need a little sparkle in their lives! You can have your child make funny faces with cheeks puffed out for applying the sunscreen to their face. Gleason recommends letting your child return the favor and apply some sunscreen to your skin, too!
- For your teen children, talk up the vanity piece. The sun’s rays can be damaging to the skin and cause premature wrinkles. Having melanomas removed causes scarring. Let your older kids know this can make them appear older more quickly.
- Spray-on sunscreens can be easier to apply. The convenience of sprays can help to encourage reapplication as needed throughout the day. Take care not to apply aerosol sprays directly to the face because it’s not good to inhale it. (I have personally found sunscreen sticks GREAT for applying to little faces.) It’s a good idea to have kids hold their breath and close their eyes when applying aerosol sunscreens.
- Don’t get caught without enough sunscreen! Applying enough sunscreen is crucial to it working properly. It’s recommended to use an ounce of sunscreen to cover the entire body (think a small shot glass or two tablespoons).
- Link re-application with a fun activity. Is it snack time? Time for some lemonade? I guarantee kids will come running! While they are busy refueling you can refresh that sunscreen.
Additionally, the Skin Cancer Foundation has these recommendations:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
I hope you have found these tips helpful as I did! Now you are all set to partake in this beautiful, sunny spring and the upcoming summer while protecting your skin, and your kids’ skin properly! Enjoy the sun!