May marks national Melanoma Awareness Month and also the start of good weather and more family activities outdoors. When the sun shines, it invites us to go to the park, swim in a pool and spend lazy days at the beach. A little bit of sun is a good thing, but protecting your child against too much sun exposure is a must. Research shows that a few serious sunburns as a child can lead to a marked increase in the chances of developing skin cancer later in life.

As Co-Director of Summer Breeze Day Camp, I stress the importance of campers coming each day with sunscreen already applied. But for extra precaution, our teachers reapply it as needed before our preschool kids head outside to the playground or water play area.

Here are some good sun safety guidelines that we use and for you to practice with your child:

  • Apply a sun lotion with a minimum of SPF 30 that has both UVA and UVB protection. Remember to apply lotion at least half an hour before heading outdoors. Reapply often!
  • Cover up! There are clothing lines that have SPF built into the fabrics which offer some additional protection. A long sleeve boarding top and long shorts are cool looks at the beach or pool that also keep your child’s skin protected. You still need to apply sun lotion. Sun-protective clothing alone will not offer enough coverage.
  • Pick the right time. The sun is the strongest from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, so try to schedule the bulk of your outdoor time around peak sun hours. If you are out in the midday sun, make sure there is shade available for your child.
  • Wear a hat. There are great hats out there that protect not only the face, but also your child’s neck.
  • Sunglasses. If your children will wear them, it does offer protection for the eyes. If not, make sure their hat has a long bill or wide brim to keep their eyes shaded.

Applying sun lotion is not always an easy task with little ones. Warming it up in your hands is an easy trick for making it a much more pleasant experience and should make it go faster. Don’t forget to apply to the back of the neck, tips of the ears, and tops of the feet. Sometimes these areas are overlooked and can result in painful burns. A lip balm with SPF is also a must!  Summer should be a time to enjoy the outdoors and with a little sun sense, it can be a safe and healthy one.

For more information on protecting your child from the sun, visit the Center for Disease Control and

By Nancy Baldaro, Co-Director of Summer Breeze Day Camp and Admissions Director of York Avenue Preschool