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Information and inspiration for parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers and preschoolers

Throwin’ shade at the sun: protecting your kids outdoors

Don't forget the sunblock

As Arizonans, we have learned to avoid the sun as much as possible. We take a lot of precautions too, from endlessly looping a parking lot in order to find a space with even the slightest amount of shade, to running lunchtime errands at 5 a.m. You might say hiding from the sun is a favorite pastime of ours.

We do it to escape the heat, and also because UV radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer.

For our young children, protection against sun exposure is even more important. No matter where they live, babies, infants and toddlers are especially sensitive to sun-related skin damage, and they rely completely on their caretakers for prevention. To put it simply, We are their sun protection.

Things you can do

First, avoid any and all sun exposure if your child is less than six months old. If they must go outside, keep them in a shaded stroller and out of direct sunlight. For older children, try to spend your time outside before the sun is at its peak. (Peak sun occurs typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) Have your children wear sun protection that includes: a broad spectrum sunscreen (look for those words on the packaging), a wide-brimmed hat, clothing that covers their skin. Do your best to avoid a burn before you can see it; by then it’s too late. It’s best to think ahead. And keep plenty of water on hand.

Screen your sunscreen

  1. Choose the highest SPF (Sun Protection Factor) you possibly can.
  2. Choose a broad spectrum formula. This protects against both UVB and UVA rays. UVA rays can go through clothing, glass and skin.
  3. Applying a thick layer of sunscreen is as important as the SPF number.
  4. Apply 20-30 minutes before going out in the sun for best protection.
  5. Keep track of time and re-apply approximately every two hours.

All it takes is a little knowledge and a few simple steps each time you walk out the door to protect your little ones from the sun.

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