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How to protect your grandchildren in the sun

Amanda Angus / 05 July 2018

Do you know how best to keep your grandchildren safe in the heat?

A small child sits on the beach in the sun with suntan lotion on

It’s a beautiful sunny day and the grandchildren are over, playing in a paddling pool in the back garden, or clamouring to be taken to the park.

You’ll watch them in the pool to make sure they come to no harm, and you’ll hold their hands as you cross the road to the park, but are you also remembering to protect them from the sun?

The NHS warns against allowing children to get too much sun as it can increase their risk of skin cancer in later life. Not only that, their delicate skin can burn much quicker than ours, so before you know it you (or the lucky parents) might be in for a long evening of applying aloe vera to a hot, disgruntled child – much better to avoid it in the first place!

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If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it

Your first stop is to stock up on sunscreen. Even if you’re reaching for the factor 15 for yourself, skip the lower numbers and go straight for a lotion with SPF 50.

The numbers indicate how long you can stay in the sun, by taking how long you’d usually take to burn and multiplying it by that number. For easy maths, if you would only allow a child to spend a minute in the sun without protection, then times that by 50, and you’re looking at almost an hour of protection.

And if you’ve ever tried to get sun tan lotion on a child, you’ll know they tend to use every trick in the book to avoid a successful application: wriggling, screeching and – possibly the most effective, and irritating tactic – simply running away from your well-meaning, sunscreen-covered hands.

And even if they do keep still for a moment, odds are you won’t manage as even a coverage as you’d like, so to feel comfortable about their safety, opt for Factor 50.

Try Banana Boat Advanced Protection Kids Protective Sun Lotion SPF50 (£10 for 180ml).

Or you could go even higher with Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer SPF100 Dry Touch Lotion, available on Amazon for £15.

Of course, if they’re in the pool, you’ll need to keep reapplying even more frequently, as even the most waterproof of sunscreens will wash off after a while.

Super sun creams

Stay in the shade

If you can move the paddling pool, keep it in the shade, or invest in a paddling pool that comes with its own shade – try the Splash Frame Pool with a Sun Canopy from around £80 on Amazon. For a cheaper but still effective option, just get a gazebo from around £30 on Amazon

If you walk to the park, embrace a fashion from decades past and use a couple of parasols – this pretty white lace one is available on Amazon from around £8.

Cover up

Avoid vest tops that expose the shoulders and go for loose t-shirts if you’re heading for the park, or get a rash vest or two in – these long sleeved tops are designed for use in and out of water, and provide protection from UV rays. Mountain Warehouse has a nice range in vibrant colours.  

Mad hatter

Protect their noggins with a hat, ideally with a wide brim; if they’re resistant to wearing hats then offer something that might appeal to their sense of humour – try a shark themed trilby or bucket hat

Drink like a fish

Offer drinks throughout the day, but if they’re too bothered about playing to stop for a refreshment, entice them with ice lollies.

These needn’t be expensive, shop-bought ices packed with sugar - they’re easy to make at home with an ice lolly mould from Amazon £10 and you can pack them full of goodness!

Juice & Smoothie Recipes

Stay alert

If your little one becomes lethargic or loses interest in playing, take them inside immediately and give them a drink, then follow the tips below.

If they do burn

Get them out of the sun if you see any skin beginning to turn red, and cool them by sponging any redness with cold water or holding a cold flannel over red areas.

Make sure you have some aftersun lotion, ideally containing aloe vera, ready and waiting to slather on – try Banana Boat Aloe Vera After Sun Lotion, £6 470ml.

Give plenty of fluids, and painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve pain, as instructed on the packaging.

At night, have a fan in their room – not pointed at directly at the bed – to circulate the air and keep the room cool.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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