Children love to play outdoors during summer months. It gives them a chance to explore nature, make new friends, and also play in water and swimming pools. Outdoor play is usually encouraged in kids as it helps develop their motor, behavioural, and social skills. Moreover, playing outside aids in the better absorption of Vitamin D, a vital nutrient that keeps your child’s bones, teeth, and muscles strong and healthy.
However, when kids are outdoors, special care should be taken to protect their skin, as extended exposure to the sun’s strong UV rays can cause harm and skin concerns like rashes and sunburns. Therefore, proper precautions are needed to ensure that toddlers attain the benefit of sun exposure without any skin complications.
The sun emits invisible and harmful ultraviolet rays (aka UV rays) that can cause irreparable damage to the skin and eyes. Also, the majority of the sun’s radiation comprises UVA rays, and while they are responsible for the absorption of Vitamin D, prolonged exposure to these rays can cause a lot of damage to your child’s skin like sunburns, tan, rashes, and inflammation.
Our bodies secrete a dark pigment called melanin to protect itself from the sun. However, melanin only provides limited protection against the skin and when kids spend a long time in the sun, their bodies may not be able to fight the sun’s harmful rays, leading to an inflammatory reaction called sunburns. Sunburn usually occurs in the skin’s outermost layer and can sometimes be very painful. You need to take various preventive measures to protect your little one’s skin against this skin condition and its discomforts.
Discussing about some of the important sun safety tips for kids, Dr. Pooja Marathe, Nutrition and Lactation Expert, BabyChakra stated, “Ideally, your child should apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before stepping out to play. Always wear sunscreen. Apply it on your skin every day.” She also added that you should:
Sunglasses can make your kid look trendy and also protect their eyes from UV rays. Moreover, long-time exposure to the sun can cause cataracts later in life, therefore, make sure to protect your little one’s eyes right from an early age. Today, you can find UV protection glasses that block 99% of the sun’s rays. Just search on the internet about “UV-protective glasses” and you will find tons of options to choose from.
Opt for a moisturising natural sunscreen designed with non-nano technology and with a sun protection factor of 30+ and PA+++ ratings. The sunscreen should be mineral-based and contain mild ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, organic rose oil, chamomile oil, carrot seed oil, and almond oil. All these ingredients are safe and exhibit rich antioxidant properties that provide foolproof sun protection to your child’s skin. Additionally, they hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, and also soothe irritation or inflammation.
Ideally, your child should apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before stepping out to play. Do not skip sunscreen even if it’s cloudy outside since the UV rays can pass through the cloud as well. Also, remind your child to reapply the sunscreen every two or three hours for continued protection against the sun. If the sunscreen isn’t waterproof, it should be reapplied after swimming or activities that cause sweating.
Teach your child to look for shaded areas while playing under the sun. This can also help minimise incidental sun exposure. You can even consider creating outdoor shade areas in your backyard for your kids and their peers. Get them to help by volunteering to pitch up a pop-up tent around your home or use umbrellas to safeguard themselves from the sun.
Dressing up in full-sleeved and lightweight cotton clothing is the best way to stay protected from the harsh UV rays. Apart from this, you can also look for clothes with high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) in them. UPF is similar to the SPF found in creams and lotions. The higher the UPF, the stronger the sun protection offered by the clothing. Opt for a fabric with a minimum UPF of 30 to get added protection against sun rays.
Normally, the sun’s rays are the harshest between 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. You should stop young children from venturing out during this time. Apart from tan and sunburns, staying outside during peak hours can also cause dehydration in kids. You can engage them in some other fun indoor activities during this time, and take them out for play after the peak hours.
Caps and hats are must-have essentials during summers and also the perfect way to provide sun protection to kids. What’s more? You can get wide-brimmed caps and hats in bright colours and trendy prints that will elevate your child’s summer look.
There are certain medicines (especially antibiotics) that can make the skin more sensitive to UV rays. If your child is on any kind of medication, consult your doctor to determine whether that will increase skin sensitivity to the sun or not. If yes, look for alternative medicine options.
While sunlight is beneficial for your child’s development, long-time exposure to it can have adverse effects on their skin and overall health. Therefore, following sun safety tips are crucial as they will keep your little one’s skin protected and safe. Make sure that they apply sunscreen regularly when outdoors, wear appropriate clothing, and carry hats. These tips will keep their skin protected against sunburns and allow them to enjoy summer to the fullest.