The more we learn about the sun and its dangers to children, the more important it becomes to practice good sun protection.
Did you know that just two childhood sunburns increases the risk of developing skin cancer later? And that children receive 60 to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18? This is serious stuff.
But parents don't have to keep their little ones locked up indoors all summer. By taking some reasonable precautionslike thesechildren can safely enjoy the pleasures of a sunny, summer day.
Step 1: Use child-friendly sunscreen The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents choose sunscreen made specifically for young skin.
Step 2: Choose UPF clothing Don't count on a T-shirt to block UV rays most T-shirts only provide an SPF of six or seven. While UPF fabrics have been around for awhile, many of these treated fabrics remain stiff and scratchy. So look for those that are super-soft cotton UPF 50+ apparel.
Step 3: Protect those peepers It's a fact: young eyes are more sensitive to UV damage, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Forget the cute "play" sunglasses they need high-performance sunshades that block 100 percent of UV rays. Look for ones with a kid-safe rubber frame, polycarbonate safety lenses, and comfy, stretchy neoprene strap.
Step 4: Get in the hat habit A great sun hat protects faces, eyes, and scalpsand helps keep kids cool, too.
Step 5: Bring your own shade along According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's wise to keep infants less than 6 months old out of direct sunlight. The solution: buy or create a portable infant cabana.
Step 6: Practice good sun sense As sunny days approach, there are certain facts every parent should keep in mind:
The sun is at its strongest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Limit exposure at this time of day and take regular shade breaks.
Skin can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. Don't let up your guard, even when the sun isn't at its brightest.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people only apply 20 to 50 percent the recommended amount of sunscreen. Make sure you reapply your kids' sunscreen at regular intervals, especially after swimming.
Set a good example for your childrenpractice good sun protection for yourself, too.
Teach your children to be sun smart now, and they'll thank you for it in the years to come.