How to Sunscreen a Wiggly Toddler

toddlerAhh, sun…welcome back! Back in the cold arctic where I grew up, summer was just barely becoming something you believed was going to stick around for a while in May. Where I live now, by May it’s time for double showers each day and you’re constantly on the search for a sunscreen that’s actually waterproof.

Even in the arctic, sunscreen was a must for me, and consequently for my kids. My current situation makes sunblock that much more important, especially since it’s now being abused by a constant torrent of sweat and often by salt or pool water. While I (and usually my spouse) understand how important sunblock is, my kids, especially when they were toddlers, absolutely could not make the connection between no lotion now=nasty sunburn later. No lotion now to a toddler means instant gratification–toys! Water! Sand!

So, how to get that lotion on? Like cutting my cat’s toenails, working speed is important. The faster you can work, the quicker it’s over. If you have a particularly resistant toddler, a tag team may be beneficial; with four hands applying sunblock (and two people blocking escape routes), even toddlers will find it difficult to fend all of them off.

Another tip: if you can, lather up before you leave the house. Even better, get it on before getting the kids dressed. It makes it a lot easier to not miss any spots, and the kids don’t have quite the same high excitement level before they actually get to wherever they are going.

Sometimes, spray sunblock can be your friend. Downsides to spray sunblocks are their temperature (they often feel quite cold and can cause a toddler to sprint down the block at first spray), natural-type formulations are rare, and they are not all created equal. Some of them work amazingly and spray very evenly. Others, no matter how much you spray on and even if you even them out by hand afterwards, leave you with streaks of sun burn at the end of the day. If you use them, you may try them on yourself first if it’s a new brand to you, to make sure it’s not a dud.

Finally, once you get it on, don’t forget the reapplication. No sunblock will last all day, even if you never go near water. Usually I’ve found my own kids to be a little easier on rounds two or three, however on those rounds you may have wet and/or sandy skin to deal with. Try and towel dry as much as possible (you can try the spray sunblocks marketed for ‘wet skin’ if this doesn’t work for you), and for sand, either brush it off as best as possible, or use a little baby powder to get it off before reapplying for best results.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home-mom to two rowdy little boys and married to one slightly-less-rowdy husband. They’re currently living overseas and learning to thrive in a totally different climate.

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