The most important thing for any age - infants, toddlers, kids, teens, and adults, is physical protection from the sun. But this was especially important for me when Thatbaby was....a baby. The first 6 months is supposed to be sunscreen free, so we relied solely on these protections so he didn't get sunburnt.
Hats - still one of my favorite forms of sun protection. A big hat works wonders at keeping the sun off your head, neck and ears. Plus, who likes having a burnt hair-part? I know it can be hard to keep a hat on your kid, so find a style he/she likes. Baseball caps, floppy hats, bonnets, hats that tie, hats you staple on....
Sunglasses - This is probably more a "me" thing than anything else. My eyes are hypersensitive to light. My long-time optometrist told me I should never go out without sunglasses. So I probably take this more seriously than others. Right now Thatbaby is a fan of sunglasses, but when he was younger we got the ones with a strap to hold them on his face.
Sunblock- I should have started with this one, right? SOOOO Important. Thatboy has skin cancer is his family, I don't in mine, but I'm fair skinned and burn easily, so we are very good about applying sunscreen. Here's a little info about sunblock:
Sunscreen v. Sunblock: Sunscreen is a chemical blocker that reflects the sun's rays. But the chemicals are not great for you, me, and especially our children. Sunblock is a physical sunblocker - like wearing clothing. You want sunblock, not sunscreen.
So how do you tell? Look at the active ingredients. If it has Avobenzont, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene and/or Oxybenzone, it's sunscreen. Sunblock active ingredients are Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide.
What are some examples of good sunblocks? We used Neutrogena for a long time. Their "Sensitive Skin" and "Pure and Free" formulas are both sunblocks. Right now we're fans of Blue Lizard. It's Australian, and if anyone knows about sun protection, it's the Aussies.
If you're spending any time at the beach, here are some further favorites:
Rashguards - I'm not going to lie, I'm not a fan of babies in bikinis. I don't think they're inappropriate or sexual, I just think that they need more sun protection! I would put Thatbaby in swim-pants instead of shorts if I could! For at least the first year he was in long-sleeved rash guards to cover as much of him as possible. Now we keep him in short-sleeved rash guards.
Tents - a must have in my book. Thatboy loves the beach. I knew we'd spend a lot of time there, so I told him we needed a tent if he wanted Thatbaby and I to join him. This way we can spend long periods at the beach and out of the sun. It's also a place where we can sit off the sand - which is key for eating! We got ours at Costco. It's 3-sided, with screen windows that can be zipped open or closed. And most importantly, it's fairly easy to set up and tear down.
Cornstarch - speaking of sand, this is my secret magic trick for dealing with sand. Get a tub of cornstarch you can just keep in your beach bag. When you want to remove sand, rub some on your hands and then the area you're trying to de-sand. It comes right off!! And because it's cornstarch, you don't have to worry about it getting on your hands, your child's hands, or in your child's mouth (because we use it a lot on the face.)