This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.
Yep, that’s me! A long time ago, I admit, but that’s me as a child – blonde, fair skin and freckly! Dad 101 is fair skinned and freckly as well and we have both had our fair share of sunburn, as both children and adults. Scary really considering that as well as reporting that Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancers in the world, the Cancer Council NSW’s SunSmart website also says;
“Children and babies are at particular risk of sunburn and skin damage because of their delicate skin. Exposure to UV radiation during the first 15 years of life greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.”
Given that Immy has inherited our fair skin, I am pretty fanatical about taking every possible measure to protect her skin from the sun, not just in summer but all year round. Having run a child care centre with the associated responsibility of overseeing the sun protection of many small children, I have tried to transfer the same sun protection strategies to home with Immy as I used at the centre. So here are my top tips for teaching children (from as young an age as possible) to protect their skin from the sun;
When Immy was a baby, I was consistent at putting a hat on her during outdoor time everyday. Sure we had the usual baby/toddler flinging it off response (thank you to the person who invented sunhats with chin straps) but she pretty quickly got used to wearing it, and now it is not a problem at all. If Dad 101 or I ask her to put her hat on before she goes to play, she is happy to do so.
I also try to keep an extra hat in the car or my bag (or pram when we used to use it) so that we are not caught unexpectedly without a hat when we are out.
I avoid tops and dresses that do not protect the shoulders and back (tank top or halter necks mostly). And when Immy does wear a dress that does not provide enough coverage, she wears a t-shirt underneath unless I can be certain that she will not be going outdoors.
Also, consider your child’s swimwear. When swimming outdoors, Immy wears a rashie or an old fashioned style neck to knee swimsuit to offer as much protection as possible.
When it comes to sunscreen for Immy, I look for products that have been specifically developed with minimal active ingredients for children’s skin. This week we were sent a bottle of Hamilton Toddler SPF 30+ Sunscreen to try. It is smooth to apply and absorbs readily, providing protection from UVA and UVB rays even after 4 hours water immersion.
Again, sunscreen has become a habit in our house. We apply it regularly and Immy knows that she cannot play outside when it is hot without sunscreen.
When playing outside (especially in warm weather), I encourage Immy to look for shady areas to play in. We set up activities in the shady in our yard or under the patio and have planted extra trees that one day will provide even more shade.
As well as taking these measures on our children’s behalf, I believe it is also important to teach our children to take age appropriate levels of responsibility for their own sun protection. With Immy heading off to kindy next year, our task this summer is to teach her to apply her own sunscreen, making sure that she covers all areas of exposed skin.
We also need to help her to develop a mental checklist before she heads outdoors – does she have her sunscreen on? Does she have her hat? This can be as simple as a daily question, “What do we need to do before we go outside to play?” until she gets into the habit of preparing herself. Or providing visual prompts as part of the morning routine, like the photograph routine cards I created earlier this year, if you would like to add the hat and sunscreen cards to your set, the complete set can be downloaded here.
Hamilton are giving one Childhood 101 reader the opportunity to win a sun care prize pack consisting of one bottle each of their Family, Sensitive and Toddler SPF 30+ sunscreens. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post sharing your strategies for keeping your family sun safe this summer. Entry open to Australian residents only. Giveaway closes 5pm AEDST, Wednesday 14th December 2011. Full terms and conditions here.