Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sun scream - how to apply sunscreen to a small child

The summer is finally here. And so too is the morning ritual guaranteed to incite a raging tantrum in my 3-year old - the daily application of sun tan lotion.

Here are my battle tactics:

1. Buy a bottle of once a day sun cream because, quite frankly, I can't face the prospect of 2-hourly skirmishes to apply lotion to a very reluctant pre-schooler.

2. Preparation is key. The ideal time to begin the war on sunburn is before anyone is dressed. This way, you avoid ruining your clothes and you get the maximum lotion to skin ratio.

3. The battleground should be clear of any soft furnishings, which means I aim to start in the bathroom. I learnt the hard way how difficult it can be to remove sun tan lotion from the sofa (and carpet and curtains). The added bonus with the bathroom is that you can shut the door, minimising escape routes and limiting the arena to within arm's reach.

4. Apply sun cream to yourself to show how painless the process is.

5. Ask your child if they would like to apply the cream themselves. (This tends not to work in my household and instead prompts histrionic screaming, but I'm a great believer in involving children in getting themselves ready.)

6. Apply a liberal amount of sunscreen to your hand and then grab your child and slather the lotion on any available skin, while attempting to avoid eyes and hair.

7. Attempt to calmly explain to your child the benefits of sun cream in reducing their risk of burning and getting skin cancer.

8. Try and work out if any of the suncream has reached the intended target. More often than not I find that more is on me than my child, resulting in a repeat of step 5.

9. Attempt to remove misdirected suncream from hair, walls, ceiling and floor.

10. Bribe child with their favourite breakfast treat as you try and check if your mission has been accomplished. 

11. Encourage child to wear some weather appropriate clothing. If suncream application has had to be aborted, this involves a long-sleeved t-shirt and long trousers. This is not a problem in our house as my daughter has decided that summer is the perfect time of year for thick jumpers, woolly hat and mittens. 

12. Reassure neighbours that all is well and that no murder has been committed, despite the screaming and sobbing they may have just heard. 

Much as I love the onset of hot, sunny days, I dread the guaranteed tantrums associated with ensuring my daughter is adequately protected from the sun's harmful rays.

For more information about skin cancer and sun protection go to

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