Test it before you travel to ensure it does not cause itching, whichever sunscreen you buy.
Can sunscreen be used on babies and young children?
Babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun altogether, but there is no evidence to suggest that sunscreen might be harmful to young children when used in small amounts on the face and hands. Their skin is more likely than an adult's to absorb the ingredients in the sunscreen, and the rest of their body is best protected with clothing rather than sunscreen.
What do SPF numbers mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is a scientific measure, which grades the ability of a sunscreen to filter out UVB rays. The higher the number, the more protection you get. The number shows how longer it would take your skin to get red if using a sunscreen, as opposed to being in the sun without using any sunscreen. For instance, SPF 20 means you can spend twenty times as much time in the sunshine than if you were unprotected, before getting burnt.
What is the shelf life of a sunscreen?
Most sunscreens can last about 2 years, and should be stored at a temperature less than 80°F. Sunscreens vary considerably is their ability to survive heat undamaged, but if you leave them in excessive heat, their properties might be altered. It is best to buy a new sunscreen when preparing your yearly travel.
Types of sunscreens
Cream sunscreens use either physical barriers to reflect the sun's rays and / or chemical absorbers to soak up UV radiation before it reaches the skin.
Manufacturers cannot claim a Sun Protection Factor rating (SPF) without using an officially listed sun filter.
Try to find a product that is water and towel resistant for up to 6 hours. It should be non-greasy and should not stain clothes or skin.
How to use sunscreens?
Ensure your selected product is applied to all exposed areas generously (40-60 mils; or 1-1.5 mm) - if you only apply a thin layer it will provide less protection that the SPF on the packaging suggests. Apply to the skin approximately half an hour before going outside and be sure to re-apply often if sun exposure continues. Re-apply after swimming or excessive perspiration.
Babies Sunglasses, Childrens sunglasses
Shop for sunglasses specifically designed for children. Babies are often positioned looking upwards (car seat, pram etc). Exposure to the sun's UV radiation can lead to serious damage, and children's eyes are far more sensitive than adults. Studies show that the earlier children start to wear sunglasses the better.
UV Protection clothing
Look for UV protective clothing. Beware: some offer low protection which decreases even further when the garments are wet - not exactly what you want when trying to protect your children from harmful UV in a beach / swimming pool environment.
Clothing - Styles, Colours, Materials
In hot climates natural fabrics are the only fabrics to wear, mixtures of man made fabrics with cotton, even mixtures containing 70% cotton or synthetic cotton mixtures are hot and encourage problems like prickly heat. The wearer sweats more and hot clammy children are often crying children. Dark colours attract malaria mosquitoes and since, black or navy absorb more sunlight radiation, they are hotter than pastel shades. Bees are attracted to flowery patterns surprisingly enough and tsetse flies are attracted to the colour blue.
Separates top and bottom are best for toddlers and young children; tops or bottoms that have become dirty can easily be swapped. Layers allow you to adjust clothing to temperatures do. Short trips on small boats can get surprisingly cold, even in the tropics. Sea spray plus wind is a chilling combination even at the Equator. Monsoon rain can make you all feel cold too; light weight jackets may be worth packing as they take so little room in your luggage.
Too much sun is a major cause of worry as you travel with young children. Under 3 year olds are especially sensitive to it because the surface area of their heads is large as compared to their bodies. If exposed for too much time, their heads can absorb harmful amounts of heat. Regular caps leave the tips of the ears exposed to the sun; this area is a common site for skin cancer. For babies, use a sun hat which ties around the ears and pack a spare in your travel bag.
If it is going to be cold a woollen or fur hat will be needed, and for both types of hats, you may need to do some pre-travel training to get younger children used to wearing them.
All-in-one pyjamas are good to cover up baby and help reduce insect bites. A long john makes a good extra layer in cold weather.
Pack at least one set of clothes which are easily accessible, in case of small accidents.
Make sure all clothes allow quick and easy nappy changing in difficult conditions.
It is better to travel with children's gloves that have ties around the wrist to prevent them getting lost.
Tough shoes are useful for travelling with toddlers; this is a difficult age when the child is learning about mobility. Keeping shoes on will protect him from injuring his feet. For the beach or mountain streams, aqua shoes are ideal; back home, they can be used for good hygiene at your public swimming pool. Better do not buy new shoes especially for the holiday as you may find they are uncomfortable, rub or cause blisters.