This week, the BBC shared the results of an NHS and Met Office study which revealed that one third of parents believe it’s healthy for a child to turn brown in the sun. What’s even more shocking is that a quarter of the parents who took part in the study have actually encouraged their children to tan, some even allowing their children to use sun beds. And what’s even worse? Some parents wait until their child’s skin is red or burning before applying sun cream.
This certainly came as a shock to me, and I’m sure to many of you too. The study reiterates that, despite popular belief, tanning isn’t healthy. In fact, it’s a sign of skin damage. Sun safety is a serious matter, but less of the scary stuff; let’s take some learnings from the study and make sure we’re all in the know when it comes to keeping kids safe in the sun. After all, it’s the last thing we want to worry about when enjoying the beach on a family holiday!
Top tips for staying safe in the sun
For babies and children
- Keep children under 6 months out of direct sunlight, as their baby skin is a lot more sensitive at this age.
- Buy protective swimwear for your kids. If they’re spending a lot of time in the water, their sun cream washing off mixed with the surface reflection can mean they’re more susceptible to getting burnt.
- Attach an umbrella or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair when you’re out and about or chilling by the pool.
- Avoid hanging a blanket over your baby’s pushchair as a way of giving them shade, as it’ll only make them get even hotter.
- Keep your kids hydrated in the sun. Even if your baby is bottle feeding, you can still give them cooled boiling water.
- Bear in mind that breastfeeding babies might get more thirsty than usual.
- Give your kids a cool bath before bedtime and, if your hotel room doesn’t have air-con, make sure you have a fan to use in their room to help them sleep.
- Cover up with suitable clothing. You and your little ones won’t get too hot if you’re wearing some light cotton or linen.
- Seek shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm, which is when the sun is at its hottest and can cause the most damage.
- Wear at least SPF15 sun cream. And remember that SPF is all dependent on each individual’s skin i.e. SPF15 is 15 x the existing protection that your skin gives. So if you can normally safely be in the sun for ten minutes before feeling the effects of its rays, factor 15 will allow you to be exposed for 150 minute before having to reapply. What stops one person from burning might not stop another.
- Take yourself and the kids to cool off in a paddling pool or swimming pool, but don’t forget to re-apply everyone’s sun cream afterwards.
- Wear sun hats with nice wide brims. This is especially important for children, but who doesn’t love a statement sun hat?
- Plan your holiday. If certain days are going to be particularly hot, make them the days you go to the aquarium, the kids’ clubs or try out the indoor pool. All the fun stuff will mean the kids won’t realise it’s a way to keep them out the sun!
What are your top tips for keeping your kids cool and protected from the sun while on holiday? Share them in the comments below.