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4 Ways to Protect Your Child From the Sun

1. Choose and Use Sunscreen

A sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) is a necessity no matter how dark your child's skin tone is, or whether he usually tans or burns. Choose a product that's noticeable when it's applied, like spray-on or brightly colored ones. That way, you can see whether you missed any spots.

Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before your child spends any time in the sun. You'll need to protect him just as much at ballgames or playgrounds as for a day at the beach. Cover his skin completely with the sunscreen, paying close attention to the tips of his ears, tops of his feet and the back of his neck. Keep that sunscreen handy, too. If your child is swimming or sweating hard, you'll need to reapply it in about three hours. Also, keep in mind that sunscreen degrades over time, so that bottle in the cupboard since last summer should be discarded and replaced.

2. Outfit Your Child for the Sun

Invest in hats and long-sleeved cotton shirts and pants. Although kids don't like to be encumbered by clothing in hot weather, it's the best way to protect their skin from the sun. Lightweight cotton clothing helps to wick away sweat while providing a barrier against UV rays. When your child isn't in the water, have her put a T-shirt over her bathing suit, although you should still apply sunscreen.

You can make hat-wearing fun by purchasing a couple of baseball caps representing your child's favorite team, buying your little explorer a safari hat or getting a bonnet for your budding pioneer. The more shade the hat provides the better, so hats with wide brims and neck drapes will provide more protection.

3. Choose Playtime Wisely

Schedule indoor playtime during the sun's peak hours. This will vary depending on where you live, but rays are most dangerous when the sun is at its highest point in the sky . Try to go to the beach on semi-cloudy days, as it will give you and your child some respite from the direct sun. Of course, if it's so hot outside that you can barely breathe, it's too hot to play!

4. Take Year-Round Precautions

Playing in the snow should be taken as seriously as playing in the sand. Wintertime sunlight may not be as warming, but its rays are just as damaging when it reflects off the snow. So, as you're bundling up to ski or build a snowman, take a minute to apply sunscreen to any visible skin.

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