Summertime is in full swing, which means it's prime time to spend outside. When your boys aren't playing on their tablet or watching TV, and you kick them out to get some fun in the sun, don't forget to keep their eyes and skin protected from those harsh rays.
Fresh air and vitamin D are no doubt really important to your son's health, but it should be balanced with good sun protection. Here's 5 ways you can protect their skin and eyes this summer:
1. Obvi, sunscreen
First and foremost, make sure they're slathered up with sunblock before ushering them out the door to ride their bike or have a water balloon fight with the neighbor kids. Even a few minutes of unprotected skin exposure can cause damaging and painful effects, and depending on the severity, dangerous long-term risks such as skin cancer.
The Seattle Children's hospital cites that sunburns may not appear for 4 hours, so if your child doesn't appear to be burned at first, doesn't mean it's not happening. And don't trust the clouds to do the sunblocking for you -- 70% of harmful UV rays still get through the clouds!
Wearing sunscreen might be a "No, duh," but sometimes picking a good one is not so easy! For my peace of mind, I usually pick something from the EWG's annual Sunscreen Guide because it rates sunscreens based on a myriad of factors, including dangerous chemical content, environmental safety, and effectiveness.
If that's a little too much to digest, keep it simple by picking something broad spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB rays) of at least SPF 50, and non-aerosal (for the inhalation risk). And just as important as picking an effective sunscreen: be sure to reapply every 2 hours, or more, if your child is in the water or sweating excessively.
Protecting your child's precious eyes is as important as covering their skin. Direct exposure and reflection of the bright sunlight (even in winter months!) can be severely damaging to their eyes, which are more vulnerable at their young age because their eyes are more clear. So squirm as they may, try your best to ensure they are wearing sunglasses whenever they spend any time outside. If you start them young, they're more likely to get used to the feeling of having them on, and be more apt to wear them as toddlers and older kids!
Check out some of our super fly sunglass styles that your son will be sure to love (and they're all UV400, naturally!):
3. Put a lid on it
Make your own shade with a full brimmed kids hat, like a trucker or straw fedora. This not only keeps your kiddo's face shrouded from the sun's rays, but it helps protect their eyes, if they refuse (or are too active for) sunglasses. Try one of our youth trucker hats full of personality in a print or adorned with pins.
For littler guys, this straw fedora in toddler sizes fits his noggin while keeping his face shaded and head cool. Plus, he'll just look super, duper cute.
4. Cover up
I know - it's hot. But whenever and wherever possible, keep his skin covered with long sleeve shirts and rash guards at the pool. Lightweight long-sleeve shirts in light colors will help him not overheat while keeping his skin protected at the same time. Have you ever noticed road workers, landscapers, and other outdoor career people wear pants and long sleeve shirts, even when it's hot out? They know it's important to keep their skin protected from the sun and other elements.
When swimming, a light colored, short- or long-sleeved rash guard protects your son from sunburn when he's most likely to be exposed to the most intense sun. (As a bonus - every part that's covered by a swim shirt is less area you have to slather with sunscreen!)
5. Stay out of it
Of course, you don't want to stay cooped up all summer long, but there are certainly times to stay out of the sun. The sun is the most intense between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. -- this is the time the sun causes the most damage because of its position in the sky. Try to stay indoors or in a shaded area during these hours. If that's impossible, take breaks and stay out in smaller increments during these hours.
No matter what time of day you're out, it's also important for your son (and you!) to stay hydrated. Sports drinks are ok, if they are sweating intensely, but these also contain a lot of sugar and salt that can have negative health impacts. Pure water is the best bet, and vital for hot summer months while he's spending time outdoors. (Don't forget to hydrate even when swimming - it's easy to forget when you're staying cool in the water).
Don't be afraid to let your son run around outside during the heat; exercise, fresh air, and expending his energy is good for him. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep his skin and eyes protected from damaging sun rays, and his body replenished and hydrated. Now kick back, relax, and enjoy your summer!