Sound Off! How Do You Protect Your Kids From the Sun?

09/16/2008 at 08:00 AM ET
KO/JD/Flynet; Pacific Coast News; Hector Vallenilla/Pacific Coast News

We all know it’s important to use a water-resistant sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 15 or greater) on ourselves and on our children, but what else should be done to protect little ones when they’re in the sun?

Along with donning "protective clothing," as the American Association of Dermatology recommends, many of you have left opinions in recent posts. Reader DLR wrote of Nahla Ariela Aubry, "With skin cancer on the rise one can’t start too early with their kids;Nahla should have been wearing sunglasses and a hat even if she was only outside for 10 minutes." Conversely, reader Julia A said, "When was the last time we saw any celeb baby (besides Eden andSavannah) with either a hat or sunglasses on? No one seemed to bebothered by that particular detail before." However, reader Katie is all for the way Marcia Cross protects her girls, saying "As a fair-skinned mommy of two fair-skinned girls, I am soimpressed with how serious Marcia seems to be about protecting herdaughters’ skin."

So here’s your chance to Sound Off! Tell us your thoughts on keeping kids safe in the sun.


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Showing 39 comments

Heather on

I believe that children need some exposure to the sun every day without sunscreen to help increase their Vitamin D. It is very important for babies and children in order to help prevent rickets!

Kayla on

I see Nahla and Eden..But who is the other little girl in the picture?

Sarah on

Is the third little girl Heidi Klum’s little Leni?

Brandi on

Kayla it is Savannah, Nahla and Leni.

I think sun protection is important, but it is very difficult to keep a hat on my kids, and definitely not sunglasses. I just have them wear lots of sunblock, and when we go to the beach they wear rashguard tops and suits instead of bathing suits.

Kayla on

Who is holding Leni’s hand with the tatoo on the arm. Maybe her dad??

Astrid24 on

I don’t think Flavio, Leni’s biological father, has a tattoo. I also think he doesn’t really care to have any relationship with her at all. He’s a notorious womanizer and philanderer who has no time for babies.

Brandi on

That is Heidi’s tattoo. She doesn’t have contact with Flavio. ANYWAY. I’d like to know what other parents do to keep their kids protected?

Natasha on

Kayla, no offense but her “Dad” is Seal and I don’t think thats him. She doesn’t have contact with her bio father.

Aelys on

I agree with Heather, although, according to my dermatologist, your body can still produce vitamin D if using sunscreen. And you can still wear a hat and sunglasses (especially sunglasses). Vitamin D doesn’t only prevent rickets, it also helps calcium stick to the bones.

@ Kayla: it’s actually Heidi holding Leni’s hand. The tattoo says Seal and, if I remember correctly, there are also 3 stars, one for each of the chidren

amjl on

I think its up to the mother and knowing her kid’s skin type. Most kids wont wear hats, not long term. Sunscreen is great and something we should do, but we should also brush their teeth twice a day. Some things are simply not possible in the real world. Every parent does their best and what they perceive as reasonable. I have two daughters. One has fair skin and I will try to be careful with it. The other has a dark olive type complexion. She can be out in the peak-June sun ALL day and might get a tiny bit pink on her shoulders which is gone by bedtime. I put sunscreen on her face and those shoulder tops in mid-June to mid-July, when I remember, but I’m not too worried about it.

Katie on

Could be that science says something different nowadays, but when I was small (so about 20 years ago), my parents were strongly advised to NOT buy any sunglasses for me because it’s bad for the development of the eyes.
The only time I was allowed to wear sunglasses was when I had some kind of infection…

Vitamin D on

I’ve often thought that Marcia’s children are probably Vitamin D deficient because they are always wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts. That said, I’d rather cover my child than coat her in sunscreen all the time. We only use sunscreen when we are going to be out all day. I am fair-skinned…so is she. My daughter not wear sunglasses.

I read it only took four minutes of daily sun (diaper only for walking babies) to get the Vitamin D they need. It’s not like you have to be outside all day. Younger babies of fair women have enough……

Kat on

sunscreen, sunscreen, and (did I mention it) sunscreen!!

hats and/or sunglasses (the hat needs a wide brim unless the glasses are worn))

I say and/or because for some younger kids, the hat works better than sunglasses, but for some babies, even with sun glasses, need the hat due to a lack of hair or sensitive skin that would make the scalp more prone to burning.

Dee on

While SPF clothing and hats are a great plus, I am worried about Oxybenzene in sunblock. I’m not sure if titanium dioxide is any better and I tend to alternate between sunblocks containing those two ingredients.

MB on

Vitamin D, I don’t think that statistic is correct. Someone posted an article on the Nahla article that looked to come from a really reputable institution and the study seemed to have been run well. It listed different times in sun needed based on ethnicity; I think it’s closer to 30 minutes on average but up to a little over an hour if I remember correctly.

Anyhow, I’m really interested in what people have to say about this b/c I’m having a baby soon and we’ll be in CA which is pretty sunny. My parents were always religious about sunscreen but I only have a couple of pictures of me in a hat. If we’re just running from the car to the store, I don’t think I’ll worry about a hat. Otherwise, I’ll always do sunscreen and use a hat if my child will tolerate wearing one.

Sunburn isn’t the only reason to be cautious. I am Latina so I don’t burn except rarely, but I still need to worry about skin cancer.

Kym on

There sure are lot of PERFECT parents on this board,always offering their advice.If you gave say Nahla a pair of sunglasses of course she is going to take them off,possible poke herself in the eye or break them.
Marcia Cross and kids are fair skined but I would hate to wear long sleeves shirts in the middle of summer all the time.
Lighten up with the advice,it’s nauseating to listen to on all the threads not just this one.

Destiny on

Because I’m not a parent yet, I’ve never had to think about this issue, but am grateful that it’s been brought up. Very often I go back to my hometown to visit my family and I almost always get my nieces and nephews and even my cousin’s children and take them out to a park and spend time with them. At no time have I ever wondered if they were getting enough protection from the sun, and we are usually always doing something in the sun for a number of hours. Their parents never seemed concerned about it, or maybe they just put sunscreen on ahead of time, so I never thought about it. Though we are African American, one of my very close friends who is also African American and has fair skin has a problem if she is in the sun for more than a couple of hours without sunscreen or she will burn. Though it’s never been an issue with me or any other African Americans I know some of my little cousins have very fair skin as well, and although I’ve never known them to have a problem with sun burns, just to be on the safe side, I will ask their parents about putting sunscreen on them when we are doing outdoor activities.

Having said all that, I will add this…Unless Halle’s child is in my personal care, I’m not going to worry about whether or not she needs a hat or sunglasses for what could be 5 minutes or even 5 hours in the sun. I’ll let her parents handle that.

Vitamin D on

4 minutes a day/30 min per week

I think THIS is the perfect place to share your opinions, etc. We can learn from it. It’s easier for me to learn from these ideas rather than friends who TELL me that I’m doing something “wrong.” Maybe I just needed more information.

Pencils on

I’m very fair-skinned, in the summer I burn within fifteen minutes of sun exposure. My husband is much darker, so we’ll see how our daughter turns out. Still, I will protect my daughter’s skin. Most of the sun damage we get in our lifetimes happens during childhood. My parents weren’t as careful as they should have been and I had numerous bad sunburns as a child, and compounded that as a stupid teen who wanted a tan (which is nearly impossible for me.) I keep a very close eye to make sure I don’t get skin cancer. I don’t want my daughter to have to worry about that. Infants, especially breast-fed ones, should be given Vitamin D drops, not exposed to the sun. Older children who drink milk are in less danger, and will get enough sun exposure from playing outside. However, I will check the statistics before my baby is old enough to have to worry about it.

I admire Marcia Cross’ dedication to keeping her daughters safe. They live in Southern California, which is a desert climate–long sleeves aren’t a big deal, they protect from the sun but there isn’t humidity to make them hot. I wouldn’t dress my daughter like that in a NY summer, but in Santa Monica, it’s fine. But, yes, it’s wrong to second-guess any mother from a paprazzi photo (or at all), little Nahla could be going from the house to the car, and she could indeed refuse to wear sunglasses and be at risk of poking herself with them (although there are safer goggle-type ones out there.)

Harley on

I allow the kids outside from 10-30 minutes without any sunscreen on and then put some SPF White-boy on them. I don’t want to rob their bodies of vitamin D from the sun. You can give them all the supplements in the world but 30 minutes won’t kill them or make them develop skin cancer. I’d prefer they soak some in on top of their daily vitamins. I’m slightly vitamin D deficient mainly due to a lack of outdoor activities thanks in part to work and they are just beginning to learn the vast amount of benefit you gain from it.

That’s my choice. I also won’t put my kids in hats as they don’t last long on their heads between hanging upside down on the monkey bars and wrestling each other.

Kerri on

Hmm, not having kids yet, this is a topic I hadn’t really thought about. I think it depends on the scenario and the baby. When we’re going from house to car or into stores, I don’t really think it’s necessary. But if we’re going to play at a park, or be outside for more than a few minutes, sunscreen and/or a hat (if tolerated!) seems logical. Marcia’s girls seem really adjusted to wearing hats (we’ve seen them in hats for years now), but I’m sure that doesn’t work for every baby. Plus, a bit of vitamin D is definitely important. I sure know I feel the difference when I don’t get enough in the winter.

MB on

Thanks Vitamin D. I must have gotten the 30 minutes confused with day instead of week.

Kym, I’d agree with you on most posts, I do think some ppl go overboard, but the whole point of this post is for us to share our opinions on the subject.

emma on

i put sunblock on my daughter most of the time but getting her to keep a hat on? no way! it completely depends what mood she is in. i really don’t know how marcia manages to get her girls to wear them all the time -i’m very impressed!

as for sunglasses, again babies and toddlers if they aren’t in the mood will just pull them off no matter how many times you put them back on.

sunblock and long sleeves is the only way to go, plus those UV protection suits they can wear by the pool or beach.

hannahmumma on

my daughter has always worn wide brimmed sun hats and we put in spf50 sunscren all over……..she is always very good at leaving her hat on over the years!!!

Manon on

Since I don’t have children yet, I’ll just speak from the perspective of having once been a child myself. Looking back, I sure wish that my parents had made a diligent effort to protect my skin and eyes from the sun while I was growing up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fair-skinned or not. Dark-skinned and African American people get skin cancer too. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that the highest rate of death from melanoma is among African Americans(mainly because of later detection, but it’s still something to consider). Children who are dark-skinned and don’t burn easily need just as much protection as their fair-skinned peers.

Jesse on

I think there are several things to consider when thinking about sun protection: skin color, how close/far away you live from the equator, and the time of day you are outside.
Humans initially evolved with dark skin. Lighter skin only developed after populations began to move northward into Europe and Asia where it was harder to absorb vitamin D.
The hours where the sun is highest in the sky (near noon) are a time when we historically rested indoors or in the shade. At the zoo you will notice there is not much activity going on at this time.
Considering all that, I have only put sunscreen on my 15 month old daughter 2 or 3 times in her life (we are both white and she has never burned). She wears a hat if we are outside for long periods of time without shade, although sometimes she does just pull it off.

Lilybett on

I think the sunscreen debate is an interesting one when there are so many parents out there who want to go ‘organic’ and chemical free. It’s a difficult choice to make – do I lather them with this chemical-rich liquid to protetc them from sunburn and cancer – or do I try to protect them from what the chemicals might be doing once they are absorbed into her skin? Does anyone know a ‘natural’ sunscreen product – besides a hat, that is?

I live in Australia and we had a slip-slop-slap ad campaign running for years (slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat – very catchy little tune)… but they’ve stopped running it now because kids were getting vit D deficiences!

I think you need to find a balance… expose them to small amounts of sun at the beginning and end of the day, protect them or stay out of the sun when it’s hottest (between 10-3 here).

Kresta on

My husband and I are both fair-skinned so are our 3 children. We live in New Zealand where the sun is very damaging to skin. I had to be constantly reminding them about hats and sunscreen and when we went to the beach or park, we always sat under a shady tree. When going out with friends I had to remind the caregivers that my kids burnt very easily in the sun as some people aren’t as careful if their kids have dark or olive skin. They just don’t seem to realise how quickly fair-skinned people get sunburnt.

bren on

I had no knowledge prior about children getting Vitmain D from the sun without sunscreen, I assumed you got it no matter what. Anyway as a child who grew up in Florida and on a boat every weekend in the keys, I personally will be as cautious as Marcia cross, I am 24 and have lines across my forehead, I pray I don’t get skin cancer on my nose because it would get red and my mom was actually a complete sunscreen freak but I still got burnt. I think its an important role to have your children wear hats and sunscreen. If they can wear sunscreen on their face though can they still get vitamin d if they dont have it on other parts of the body like arms? I dont really know how that works.

heather on

Since my first born is a redhead, and I have very sensitive skin myself, I started motherhood on a skin conscious note. Both of my kiddos sport hats year round, to the point that it has kind of become their trademark :o) People in the neighborhood call them ‘ Cats in the hats” :o) I have managed to 5 years of outside, active motherhood with no sunburns; but it has meant that my kids know that every morning we ‘suncreen”, hats stay on, and covering up, with a shade, umbrella, or clothes is always the best way to protect our skin. Really, it has meant ridiculous vigilence, but it has been worth it. Bonus: my kids have an aweseom assortment of hats and glasses that make them even cuter than they already are !

Bancie1031 on

To be perfectly honest I don’t see kids wearing sunglasses nor hats when I go out anywhere. How many of you actually do put sunglasses and hats on your baby or child EVERY time you go out? How come people don’t say anything else about any other celebrity baby that doesn’t have the “protection” that some seem to think that Nahla should have had on?

Bancie1031 on

Also for parents that have children that are in school already, do you send your child to school with hats and sunglasses everyday? Because they go outside everyday at school so I’m just wondering.
When my daughter was younger I put sunscreen on her if we were going to be outside all day, and I did try the hats but they usually lasted until we got from the house to the car then they were gone. She has an olive complexion and tans so I don’t really worry about it anymore.
Realisticly I don’t think it’s possible to constantly protect your child from the sun at all times.
For Marcia Cross I kindof understand because she’s a redhead, her twins are probably fair skinned; and I don’t know that for a fact not all redheads kids are fair skinned – my bff sons aren’t, anyways so Marcia probably doesn’t want to take the chance of them getting a sunburn at this young age. Though I have to be honest again, I don’t understand the long sleeves during the summer, but hey their her daughter’s and not mine.

Nessa on

I agree with most of the comments. However, it is a known fact that African-Americans DO NOT have the highest incidence of skin cancer. We have a natural protection from the sun. We can get skin cancer but in very, very low numbers. I have no one in my entire family (many generations) nor have I ever heard from numerous friends of any family members who have had skin cancer.

Maxx on

I think UV protective swimwear and clothing is great. Kids only need 4-5 minutes exposure for vitamin D, plus they can get it through diet as well. If we protect them now and teach them to be safe in the sun, skin cancer rates will hopefully be less in the future. I applaud Marcia Cross for doing the safe thing. There are many companies that sell protective clothing, just make sure it is the real deal, it must be a double weave fabric and stay away from ones that inject chemicals.

Lilybett on

At most schools in Australia it’s compulsory for children to wear a hat when they are outside in summer.

The preschools and childcare centres all have a similar policy and do sunscreen as well.

casey on

“At most schools in Australia it’s compulsory for children to wear a hat when they are outside in summer.”

I didn’t even think of this but you’re right. It’s especially true of state run schools. I remember when they instituted the “no hat, no play” policy at my primary school. Anyone who forgot their hat had to sit and play under a tree or in the shade. That was so boring and no one forgot their hat very often!

Kaylee on

Wow I love how Nahla has got all of us talking about sun protection for babies. But I think Marsha Cross is thinking about it more than other celebrity parents. Because she and her kids are red heads with very fair skin. They burn very easy in the sun. And Marsha had to deal with that all of her life. So she would be more mindful of sun protection. But like I said. Its good that we are talking about it.

miragana on

Good day!
It is very informative and has a very good quality in it.
I like it…

Self Improvement
Modern Rifle
Happy Halloween

Thank you very much for your time.

Silvermouse on

Since I got burned on the Cooper River Bridge (go Charleston!) 2 weeks ago, I’m going to lather sunscreen on my children 10 or 15 years down the line, plus a hat, plus sunglasses on the younger ones while we’re at the beach.

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