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My Quest For Perfect Baby Sun-Protection

G attempts to remove her sun hat for the 1,000th time that hour

I freely admit to being a bit of a slacker-mom when it comes certain baby care fundamentals.  For example, I haven’t been too careful about  how I’ve started solids with any of my babies, and I’ve also been pretty laid back about sleep schedules. I doubt I bathe my babies as often as I am supposed to.

In fact, there are many areas of baby care basics where I haven’t followed the experts’ advice. However, there is one area of mothering my baby where I am pretty hardcore about getting it right, and that’s sun protection.

My three oldest children (ages 19, 15 and 13) were all born with skin tones ranging from golden-to-swarthy. I was always relatively careful about keeping sunscreen and hats on all three of them when they were little, but probably not as careful as I should have been because:

A – Their skin tends to tan, and thus, didn’t show obvious signs of any sunburn when they were babies/toddlers, leaving me with the mistaken impression that no damage was occurring.

and

B – The research showing how dangerous early sunburns can be later in life wasn’t as clear 10 years ago as it is now.

Fast forward to 2011: my two youngest children – now ages 3 years and 10 months – were not blessed with sun-friendly skin like their older siblings. Instead, both of them got the pale, ivory skin of their British forebears. Pretty to look at and alas, also very susceptible to sunburn. Plus, as I mentioned, the research on why it’s important to protect children’s skin from sun damage is much more compelling now than it was a decade ago. For both of these reasons, I have become somewhat obsessive about protecting C and now, Baby G’s skin from sun exposure.

As for a sunscreen that I like, I have tried them all at this point, and my hands-down favorite for babies (and for all of my kids)  is Bullfrog brand.  This line of sunscreens is a bit pricier, but I waste less of it because it’s more efficient, so it all evens out. Bullfrog has various products, but my fave for babies is the Bullfrog Quik Gel. This stuff really does dry just about as quickly as you rub it onto your baby’s arm or leg.  This means the baby has less opportunity to wipe it into her eyes (ouch, unhappy baby) or lick it off  (yuk, unhappy baby) while it’s still goey on her skin.

I also like the Bullfrog spray sunscreen for Baby G’s back and neck.  Like the gel, it dries superfast, and the spray goes on lickety split. You just aim and fire, which is great for fast-moving and wiggly toddlers, as well as for whiny middle schoolers who just want to be released to get back in the water. Since discovering Bullfrog, we no longer have to buy several different kinds of sunscreen for the different-age kids in our family, and best of all, we’ve not had a single sunburn.

While I have settled on a sunscreen that does the trick, I’ve yet to find a sunhat for my baby that makes me as happy.  I think that babies are born either as hat-lovers or hat-haters  - they just arrive that way, and nothing you do will change that predisposition.  My 10 month old, Baby G happens to be a natural hat-hater, so she seems to find every hat we’ve tried on her (bald, blond, sure-to sunburn) noggin so far as nothing more than a cruel torture device.

Hats with no tie sometimes stay on longer than hats WITH a tie because she hates feeling the tie under her chin. On the other hand, once she realizes that the hat-without-ties is on her head, she can get that kind off a lot faster.  G hates wearing a sunhat more than any of my older children ever did, so I am on the hunt for a hat she will tolerate. (I welcome your suggestions.)

So how about y’all? Are you as hardcore about sun protection for your baby as I am? Have your views on this evolved over time? What is your preferred brand of sunscreen? And can you recommend a sunhat that Baby G might actually tolerate? Tell me in the comments below.

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