With the hot weather fast approaching, our focus as parents becomes keeping the kids cool and safe from the sun. NHS GP, Dr Tara of @themedicmummy, shares her top tips to protect the kids this summer – from the frequency of sunscreen applications to managing hot evenings. Especially important for babies and little ones who need more support in helping to regulate their body temperature, Dr Tara offers sensible and practical advice.
Summertime means plenty of fun and memorable outdoor activities for the kids; visits to the playground, picnics in the park, days at the zoo, splashing in a paddling pool and trips to the beach. In all this excitement it is really important to think about sun safety for children. It can be challenging sitting them down to apply sunscreen and persuading them to keep their hat and sunglasses on. However, teaching children how to protect themselves in the sun from a young age will help them develop good habits for the future.
Here are my top tips to keep you child happy, healthy and safe this summer!
It’s recommended that babies less than six months should be kept out of direct sunlight. Older children should also be kept out of the sun and spend time in the shade, especially when the sun is the strongest. In the UK, this is from March to October between 11am and 3pm. If you do go out during this time, use a sun shade for the pram, a parasol or shade tent at the beach, and find some shade under a tree at the park.
When you are spending time outdoors, dress your children in loose, lightweight clothing which covers up the skin as much as possible. There is also UV protective swimwear available for children, which offers sun protection and is light, breathable and quick-drying.
Don’t forget the accessories – always pack a sun hat and sunglasses! Make sure your child wears a sun hat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back that shades the face, neck and ears. Wearing a sunhat yourself may encourage your little one and the chin straps can be useful for those that like to remove their hats. Protect your children's eyes with sunglasses – the glasses should meet the British Standard and carry the CE mark. A soft, elastic strap may help to keep them in place.
In children older than six months, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or above and ensure that it is suitable for children. Make sure that it is water resistant and effective against both UVA and UVB rays. Apply the sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before going out and again just before going out. It is recommended to reapply liberally and frequently, at least every two hours and after you have been in water, sweating or towel drying. You may need to be creative with the sunscreen application and make it a fun activity – this can involve decorating the packaging with stickers, distracting them with their favourite song or getting them involved to help with the application.
It’s important to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Babies that are less than six months old who are exclusively breastfed may want to breastfeed more than usual. If you are bottle feeding with formula milk, you can give your baby a little cooled boiled water in the hot weather. If your baby is around six months or older and you have started to introduce solids, you should offer your baby sips of water from a cup or beaker with meals. Breastmilk and infant formula would still be their main drink during their first year, but in hot weather you may need to give additional water outside meal times. From twelve months on water, breast milk or cow's milk should be your baby’s main drinks.
6. Keeping Cool
Playing in a paddling pool is a good way to keep cool but keep the pool in the shade and supervise the children at all times. Keep your child's bedroom cool by closing blinds and curtains and use a fan to circulate air in the room. A nursery thermometer will help you monitor the room temperature which should be between 16-20*C. On hot days, you could run a cool bath at bedtime and keep the nightwear to a minimum.
I hope you feel more prepared to enjoy your summer safely!
All images by @themedicmummy
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