Lazy days by the pool are a warm weather ritual for many families. But, if your child is spending a lot of time outdoors, you need to make sure they are protected from the sun. Most children get 50-80% of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, so it is important that parents and caregivers teach kids how to use sunscreen correctly. With the right precautions, you can help reduce your child's chance of developing skin cancer later in life. For babies under 6 months of age: If necessary use sunscreen on small areas of the body such as the face and backs of their hands and have them wear a protective hat as well. More importantly, time to avoid prolonged sun exposure. For babies older than 6 months: Apply sunscreen to all areas of the body and be careful around the eyes. Try to use a PABA free sunscreen Make sure you choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher, that also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If your child has sensitive skin, look for a product with the active ingredient titanium dioxide which is a chemical free sunblock. For sunscreen to be effective it must be applied correctly. Don't try to stretch out a bottle of sunscreen, apply it generously. Apply sunscreen about 15 - 30 minutes before your kids go outside, so that you have a good layer of protection to start off with. Don't forget about their lips, ears and the back of the neck. Make sure you reapply sunscreen often, approximately every 2 hours as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. Reapply more frequently after your child has been sweating or swimming. Keep in mind that all children need sun protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids - regardless of their skin tone wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
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