posted in Life
Getting outside with my kids — hiking, biking, cooling off at the lake, is my favorite thing. All the noisy chaos that happens in the house seems not quite as loud when we’re all outside. Also, no one is messing with my stuff.
But I dread putting sunscreen on them. I have to confess, I get a little relieved when we go swimming at an indoor pool because I don’t have to mess with it. A few BabyCenter bloggers were talking about sunscreen application woes when one said her fantasy would be a sunscreen mist in the doorway that her daughter passed through every morning. Like a carwash but with sunscreen. This is a genius idea and I will pay her a thousand dollars if she makes me one.
In the meantime, we make due. My husband swears by the spray-on stuff, which does work. I just worry about hitting every single spot, and spray sunscreen seems to only last for one afternoon with our group of six. Not exactly the best bang for my buck.
My method for years involved trapping squirmy toddlers between my knees and holding them firmly in place while I squirt sunscreen into one hand and slap it on every exposed area I possibly can. Usually someone got it in their eyes and cried (which is good, actually, because it flushes out all the sunscreen I just accidentally got in there).
Then several years ago, manufacturers started making sunscreen sticks, which saved my life, and perhaps my kids’ eyesight. I love those things. Here are a few more suggestions to make applying sunscreen to kids a little more pleasant.
How to apply sunscreen to squirming children
1.) Put them in charge…sort of. Kids always do better when they have some control. Give them the sunscreen stick and let them “color” their faces. Let them apply their own lotion to their arms and legs. Keep an eye on them and make sure you get any spots they missed, but let them be the ones to start everything off.
2.) Use different applicators. This is a brilliant idea from EWG — they suggest giving kids make-up sponges or brushes to apply their sunscreen. All four of my kids loved playing with my make-up so I think this would be a huge hit.
3.) Bribe them. I know, everyone has very strong opinions on whether to bribe kids…but if promising ice cream afterward, or extra screen time at home can get them to sunscreen up and help prevent skin cancer? It might be worth a try. You can also let kids play on their iPad or tablet while you’re applying sunscreen to keep them occupied.
4.) Make it a house rule. No one at our house gets out of the car to go on an adventure without sunscreen. I suppose this is the opposite of bribing — punishing kids by making them stay at the car until everyone’s properly protected. But we started out doing this when the kids were babies, and we still abide by it, so it doesn’t occur to anyone to object (for this to work, you’d better be putting your sunscreen on, too!).
5.) Use other sun protection clothing. We started using swim shirts a few summers ago, so we now have less area to apply sunscreen. Also, we use SPF-protective hats, so if the kids or I do miss a spot, hopefully they’re still covered.
I hope that even though my kids wiggle and act like they’re being tortured by this tiny bit of lotion, I’m not only protecting them but I’m also teaching them healthy habits that they’ll continue for the rest of their lives.
For a list of good sunscreens for kids, I really like the suggestions on EWG as well. They’ve got everything categorized to help you pick the best one for your family.
And for more BabyCenter summer safety tips, be sure to check out this post. Happy adventuring!
Do you have any tips for getting sunscreen on kids?
Images by Laura Falin and iStock.
This post was originally published in June, 2017.