While most adults understand the importance of using sunscreen and reapplying it regularly, it can be a struggle to put cream on children and keep it there. Proper sunscreen use is especially important for kids, as the majority of sun damage occurs in childhood. Here are nine tips for getting your kids to wear sunscreen so they can safely enjoy the sun.
1. Make it fun
Take the chore out of sunscreen application by getting your kids to draw pictures on their skin with the cream before rubbing it in. For their face, ask them to pull funny faces to entertain them long enough so you can get the sunscreen on.
2. Apply while they’re in their car seat
This approach can make the process easier with infants and toddlers. Young kids don't sit still for long, so try to apply their sunscreen while they are strapped into their car seat.
3. Make it a ritual
Applying sunscreen should be the first thing your kids do before they go swimming or venture outside to play. It's important that they create good habits from the start. Help them to understand that the privilege of getting to do fun activities outside comes with the responsibility of taking care of their skin while doing so.
4. Appeal to the vanity of older kids
Teenagers are unlikely to play sunscreen games with you, and it can be challenging to convince them that sunscreen is an essential part of their everyday routine. A good strategy for combating their resistance is to appeal to their vanity and sense of appearance. Inform them that UV rays have a very damaging effect on the skin, changing its elasticity and causing wrinkles and fine lines to appear. Sunscreen can help them look younger for longer.
5. Be prepared for impromptu sun exposure
Keep a bottle of sunscreen in your car or a travel-sized stick in your bag just in case you make an impromptu stop while out and about. It's possible to get sunburnt through the windows of a car, so having some sunscreen handy is helpful for when you notice your child's skin (or your own) turning red.
6. Make sure you have enough
Use one teaspoon of sunscreen for each arm and leg, front and back of the torso, and the face. This amounts to a full body application of at least 35ml or seven teaspoons for proper protection. Read more about proper sunscreen application.
7. Don't forget: sunscreen is only part of it
Dressing your kids in sun-safe clothing will help to minimise the amount of skin you need to cover with sunscreen. Give your kids a hat which they enjoy wearing and use the benefit of the shade whenever you can.
8. Don't wait until the last minute to apply
When you arrive at the beach or park, your kids will be too excited to hang around to put on their sunscreen. Make sure they're protected and ready to go before you leave the house, as sunscreen also works best when applied 30 minutes before sun exposure.
9. Reapply strategically
When your kids pause for a snack or a drink, use that as an ideal time to reapply their sunscreen. Once they have reapplied, they're ready to go have more fun and enjoy the outdoors.