Summer days outside with children can be a wonderful thing. The freedom of bare feet and warm breezes can add a magic to time together that is second to none.
But before you head out into the great outdoors, remember to apply sunscreen to your children before they slip away from you.
Ideally, sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before heading outside, even on cloudy days, in order to absorb into the skin. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 with “broad spectrum” ability to block both UV-A and UV-B rays. Active children, especially when sweating or swimming, should have sunscreen re-applied every 2 hours to ensure effectiveness. Infants under the age of 6 months should not use sunscreen at all, but should be kept in a cool, safe, shady spot out of the sun (cabana, anyone?)
Of course, the best way to avoid sunburn completely is to stay out of the sun altogether. If staying inside doesn’t sound appealing, dress your child in cool, light-weight, long sleeved and long legged clothes and a brimmed hat that covers the neck. Choose a shady spot for your family to sit outdoors that is not in the direct sunlight.
Finally, remember to bring plenty of cool water or other drinks with you if you are spending the day outside in the heat with your children. Children are not as efficient as adults at sweating. Therefore, kids tend to be more sensitive to the effects of hot, humid days than bigger people and can become dehydrated more quickly. If you have an active day planned, it is a good idea to carry ice water or a sports drink that is loaded with electrolytes to replace the body’s losses and stimulate thirst and will ensure that your day is not stalled by a scavenger hunt for the nearest drinking fountain.
Kristin Seaborg is a Wisconsin pediatrician who writes about her experiences and perspective as a pediatrician and a parent of three children on her blog, Common Sense Motherhood. To find out more about Dr. Seaborg, you can visit her at her website, www.kristinseaborg.com.