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Sun + Heat Safety Recommendations For Children From Our Children's ND

This heatwave in Atlantic Canada is really hitting and our ND Ashley Shea who specializes in children's health, is here to offer tips that can help you support your little one(s) during these hot hot days! First things first, it is essential for children to be protected from the sun's UV rays - most sun damage occurs during childhood, most likely because we spend more time outside. Infants and small children are much more likely to become dehydrated than older children or adults, because they can lose relatively more fluid quickly. Ashley deep dives tips for sunscreen application + sun protection, sun care for infants, and how to support a sunburn!
 

S U N S C R E E N 

Sunscreen is essential for children while playing in the sun as their skin is very sensitive and can burn easily. Read on for application tips, what to look for when buying, and our picks! 
 
APPLYING SUNSCREEN.
  • apply a generous layer 30 minutes before going out into the sun, paying special attention to sensitive areas like the nose, ears and top of the hands and feet.
  • Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or a big sweat. Even if sunscreen says "waterproof", "sweatproof", "water resistant" they aren't!
  • Don't forget the lips !! A lip balm with at least 15 SPF is ideal to prevent burning and crusty lips.
  • before applying sunscreen, test a patch of skin on the child's back to ensure their are no adverse reactions. 
WHAT TO LOOK FOR.
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen means that it is protective against both UVA and UVB rays - this ensures that your child will have maximum sun protection.
  • Avoid using sunscreens that contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene and retinyl palminate (vitamin A), as they have been shown to have harmful effects on the body.

OUR PICKS. 

We've checked the Environmental Working Group's website for ingredient safety in all of these brands!

  • Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen
  • Salt and Stone
  • Badger Baby Kids Sunscreen
  • ATTITUDE Mineral Baby and Kids Sunscreen
 

S U N  P R O T E C T I O N 

When it comes to sun protection, sunscreen is not the end all be all for protection against burns! Children (and everyone else) should wear a hat that provides protection and shade to the face, ears and neck. 
 
Sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection should be worn, especially for a child. Allowing your child to pick out their own pair will encourage them to wear them more often!
 
Some companies sell specialty UV-protective clothing! Swim shirts are a great way to keep your child protected while also allowing them to have a fun day at the beach or in the pool! When children play in the water, the sun can reflect from the water and cause burns even faster, and wash off sunscreen at the same time to double down on potential for burns!
 
The sun's rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. It is best to avoid outdoor activities during this time and instead opt to do these activities earlier in the morning or evening. The UV index also varies from day to day, so it is best to check with your local weather station to see what today will bring. Direct sun exposure should be limited on days with a high UV index greater than 8. 
 
Remember that the sun's UV rays shine through even on cloudy days - it's important to wear sun protection on these days as well! 
 

S U N  E X P O S U R E + I N F A N T S  

Keeping infants protected from sun exposure is very important. Babies under 6 months old should avoid sun exposure all together in order to prevent sunburns, because their skin has very minimal if any melanin. Melanin is the pigment that helps protect our skin, which is why children can burn more easily than adults which have increased melanin. 
 
BRINGING AN INFANT OUT IN THE SUN.
Babe should be placed out of direct sunlight, like under a well shaded tree, tent, umbrella, stroller, etc. If you want to bring your baby out with you we suggest dressing them in:
  • a lightweight long sleeved shirt and pants, preferably cotton, that cover their arms and legs
  • a wide brimmed hat that shades the face, ears and neck. 
If shade and long clothing are not optional, use a minimum of SPF 15 on small areas such as the face, neck and back of the hands and feet. 
 
If infants end up getting sunburnt apply a cool compress to the affected areas.
 

S U N B U R N  C A R E 

Sunburns happen! Don't be upset with yourself if your child gets a sunburn. Here are tips for if your child does get a sunburn, and when to take further action.
  • Give your child lots of water to help replace lost fluids
  • Use clothes soaked in cold water or a cold bath to help the skin feel better
  • Apply aloe vera gel to the skin daily (or more often if needed) to help soothe irritation and support skin regrowth
  • Keep your child out of the sun until the sunburn is fully healed
 
WHEN TO WORRY. If the sunburn is blistering, painful or your child develops a fever, call your doctor right away.  
 

S T A Y I N G  H Y D R A T E D 

- it is essential we drink lots of water during the summer in order to prevent dehydration as we tend to sweat more. 
- recommended; 4 cups for children 1-3 years old, 5 cups for children 4-8 years old and 7-8 cups for older children. 
 
SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of dehydration in infants, toddlers, and children is critical. Dehydration is essentially more water leaving the body than is being taken in, and this can happen quickly to children playing outside in the sunshine! Signs to be aware of that can indicate dehydration are: 

  • reduced urinary frequency and amount
  • reduced or no tears
  • lethargy
  • drowsiness or irritability
  • cold or dry skin
  • dry mouth or eyes
  • infants and toddlers can have sunken soft spots on their heads
 
HYDRATION TIPS. Not to fear! We're here to make hydration on these hot hot days more fun for children. Here are some ideas that can help replenish fluids and essential nutrients to keep children thriving in the heat!
  • Try adding in fruit (berries, citrus, etc), vegetables (cucumber) or herbs (mint) into their water to make it more enjoyable to drink.
  • Allowing kids to pick their own "special cup" helps make them feel like it is their choice. Also having a cup with a straw always makes drinking more fun!
  • Foods rich in water are also a great summer snack. Watermelon, oranges, grapes, pineapple, cucumber, melons, and tomatoes all offer nutrient replenishment and hydration!
  • Popsicles can be made easily with pureed/blended fruit and water.
  • Not all kids are good at drinking water. If absolutely necessary to prevent dehydration 100% fruit juice can be diluted in water, but this should be a last resort as juice has a high concentration of sugar, which can accelerate dehydration. 

We hope these tips can help guide you through the summer and this wild heatwave! Remember, the same tips can support adults in sun protection as well - so snack on watermelon and other hydrating foods, seek shade and cover up when needed + apply your sun protection!

In health, 

The EASTND Team

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