10 tips for applying sunscreen to your child
As a mum to three kids, I’ve had my fair share of battles with the sunscreen bottle. We all know protecting our kids’ skin is important, but it’s no mean feat when your little ones wriggle or even run away when faced with the prospect of creamy gloop being smeared over their skin.
Here are my top tips:
Try a spray.
It makes applying sunscreen more fun for the child, and I find the texture is easier to rub in. If you use a coloured spray, you can also see which parts of the skin you’ve covered and when it’s disappeared. And kids find it quite fascinating too.
Apply the sunscreen indoors…
…hopefully 20 minutes before it’s time to go outside. It provides enough time for the sunscreen to sink into the skin. Also your kids are far more likely to stand quietly in front of you inside while you rub in the sunscreen, than once you have let them loose in the garden or on the beach.
Ask older children to think of something calming, like the sea
Last year I told my oldest (then aged seven) to close her eyes and think calming thoughts while I put sunscreen on her face. It worked well – she stopped messing about for 20 seconds, put on her best serene face and stayed perfectly still.
Turn it into a game
My toddler doesn’t mind me rubbing in sunscreen – as long as I also pop a patch of the stuff onto one of his forearms so he can rub it in himself. Another trick is to pop a blob of sunscreen on to your own arm and ask your child to do the honours while you crack on.
Set the timer
For this game, set the oven timer to one minute and ask your child to stay as still as a statue while you rub in the sunscreen. They can only run off once it pings.
Offer a choice
Some kids like to choose between two types of sunscreen so they feel more in control of what’s happening to them.
Let them play
Pop a few toys on the sofa and ask your toddler to stand in front of it to play. They may be too distracted to notice that you’re getting busy with the sunscreen.
Belt out nursery rhymes, roar like lions together or pretend to be monsters as you rub in the cream. Whatever it takes.
Be prepared to wing it
You may find that none of these techniques work when it comes to the face, which seems to be the most torturous part of a child’s anatomy – particularly for a toddler. Just smear it in as best you can over the wailing.
Tell your children why they need sunscreen
Make sure they know that the sun will make their skin get red and it will hurt a lot without the cream. Toddlers of course don’t understand but don’t worry, they’ll get the hang of it soon. I promise, it does get easier!