9 Top Tips for keeping Children Cool, Calm and Protected in the Sun

Make the most of the long, hot summer days, with our top tips for keeping your cool with kids in the heatwave.

1. Use a Sunscreen

Sometimes, getting the kids ready and out the door can feel like a full-scale military operation. However, sun protection should be part of the daily routine. Even on cloudy days, unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure.

Use a sun care brand you trust – sun protection is no area to scrimp on. Use at least a factor 30 sunscreen that’s effective against UVA and UVB. It’s important to choose sunscreens that are formulated for children’s and baby’s skin as these products are less likely to contain alcohol or fragrances that might irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions. See recommended sunscreens here

Apply the sunscreen to areas that cannot be protected by clothing, such as the face, shoulders, neck, ears, feet and backs of hands. Apply generously and regularly throughout the day, as sunscreen can easily be washed off, rubbed or sweated off the body. See Cancer Research UK’s video tips on using sunscreen here.

Wondering if suns creams have a ‘shelf life’? Rule of thumb is that sunscreens should be replaced after 3 years.

2. Stay in the shade

It’s always important to provide areas of shade, under trees, umbrellas or canopies, especially for babies who should be kept out of direct sunlight. The sun is usually at its most intense between 11am and 3pm, so shade is even more important during this time.

3. Cover up

When outdoors, protect your child’s skin with loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat that shades their face, neck and ears.

4. Protect their eyes

Children’s eyes are more sensitive to UV light than those of adults, so it is vital that they are protected. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses for your child with 100% UV filtration (toy sunglasses may provide no protection at all) that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the "CE" mark – check the label.

5. Keep hydrated

Children are often too distracted to remember to drink water regularly. It’s easy to become dehydrated and this can result in some rather nasty symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, feeling light-headed and irritability. Supervise regular water breaks to ensure children are hydrating correctly. Avoid sugary, fizzy beverages – they simply won’t have the same effect.

6. Slow down

Avoid strenuous activities which will stimulate the body and raise its core temperature. Try to have plenty of calm time before the bed time routine begins.

7. Ventilate your home

If you’re out during the day, keep the curtains drawn to stop it heating up like a greenhouse.  

Open your loft hatch if you have one to allow heat to escape up through the roof. Ventilate bedrooms before you start the bedtime routine so that it’s more comfortable for sleeping.

8. Chill out in the bath

A luke-warm bath or shower can help to refresh your child before bedtime and relieve any clamminess.  Try to keep it quick though as you don't want them to be too alert before they go off to the land of nod. 

9. Use appropriate bedding

Use only cotton bed sheets and avoid any waterproof mattress covering as this will hold heat and make children sweat. Synthetic pillows will retain heat so opt, if possible, for a feather pillow if your child has no allergies.

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