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What Really Happens When You Put Sunscreen Lotion On Your Baby

Toddler Upset By Carer Trying To Apply Sunscreen LotionSummertime is in full swing, and if you’ve been a really good mom, your little one hasn’t gotten sunburned once.  No raccoon eyes, no stripes where you’ve missed a spot, no pink little bottom cheeks – not once.  Kudos to you, but do you know the real reason the world should be applauding you?  Not just because your kids are going to have creamy smooth skin well into their 40’s, but because you’ve done something that few people can – you’ve managed to consistently apply sunscreen to a small child throughout the summer.   I kid you not when I say the tactical planning of D-Day may have taken an equivalent amount of skill.

So, what really happens when you put on baby sunscreen lotiono?  I mean, why make such a big deal?  If you’ve done it before, you KNOW what I’m talking about.  Trying to successfully apply sunscreen to a child between the ages of 7 months and 4 years old is like to trying try wrestle with an alligator or catch a pig.  All are equally frustrating scenarios and when it’s all said and done, everyone’s ticked off – not a process you want to repeat.  Until that next day arrives and you’re reaching for the SPF – shoot me now!

For those of you who know what I’m talking about, can I get an “Amen, Sister?”  If you’re still a bit puzzled and trying to imagine the scenario, let me break it down for you. Here’s what really happens when you put sunscreen lotion on your baby.

Imagine this — I’m pregnant, with twins, but I’m still an awesome mom, so I’m taking our little girl out on the deck to enjoy a glorious afternoon in the inflatable baby pool.  I have read a LOT of parenting books and looked at a LOT of web sites, so I know I should apply her sunscreen before I put on her bathing suit so no matter how she wriggles and squirms, she will be thoroughly coated.  I also know not to use a spray sunscreen (spray sunscreen), I know which sunscreen is recommended for babies, I have looked up “when can you put sunscreen on a baby.”  I’m ready.  And I’m there with my lotion, ready to apply.  My daughter takes one look at me and she’s off!  She’ll let me rub moisturizer all over her cute little body after the bath, but the sunscreen comes out and she runs!  After I have finally captured her, applied the sunscreen and probably spread just as much across my carpet, she takes off again because now I’m not just chasing a pig – it’s a greased pig!  And, I watch as all my careful work gets rubbed onto my furniture, my walls, and her blanky.

I don’t try to apply anymore as I’m not that strong a person, so it’s time to put on her bathing suit and then do her sweet little face.  Yeah, right.  Applying sunscreen to my child’s face makes trying to spoon-feed her look like a piece of cake.  As she’s moving her head back and forth, I’m getting one swipe per cheek about every 5 seconds.  I try to do her forehead and that’s when I hear the shriek.  Yes, I’ve officially gotten sunscreen in her eye.  Thankfully, it’s  fragrance-free, allergy-free, chemical-free (recommended sunscreen for babies)  Heck, I’m beginning to wonder why I’m even applying it because apparently it’s free of everything!  However, none of that stops my baby girl from shrieking to high heaven because her eye is stinging.  I chase her again – we wipe her eye with a dry towel, a wet washcloth, I try some saline solution and then even go back to my chemistry class days and try to splash water like an eyewash solution.  Nothing works and my daughter is screaming like a banshee.  I finally get her to calm down, we head outside for our idyllic afternoon in the pool – however, she can’t stop rubbing her eye which is now officially red as a ruby.  Worried that I’m making her go blind, I call my doctor’s office and even though this is my first foray into Sunscreen Gone Wild, I’m still surprised when they tell me to call Poison Control.  Imagine the conversation I’m going to have with my husband that night.

Needless to say, things got better.  We rinsed A LOT of water in her eye that day and night.  She did not go blind.  The blow up pool never got used again; in fact, I may or may not have taken a pair of scissors to it later that summer.  My daughter may have spent the next several months in the shade.  All in all, we were both very traumatized.

Since then, my sunscreen techniques have improved, but the process is still as enjoyable as getting my license renewed at the DMV.  My kids still avoid me like the plague when I pull out the SPF and they whine and complain that they have “white stuff” all over their body (Why your sunscreen should look white).  I’m more prepared these days – and a little quicker – so I have been known to chase my son around the yard to get behind his neck and ears.  The thrill just never goes away.  I invest heavily in SPF swim shirts, hats, rash guards and yes, sunscreen.  Sometimes, I long for the good old days when our grandmothers used baby oil and didn’t know about UVA or UVB.  But, despite the drama, despite the complaints or even screams, despite the fact you swear off the outdoors each time, you’re doing the right thing.

And, I for one, salute you!

Happy Summering!

For more information on sun protection for babies, check out our blog on sun protection.