One minute a day can save your child's life. Don't leave home without this!

Today I am going to share with you a very personal story, and some incredibly important information on how to protect your children from a similar fate. This post is all about safe fun in the sun!

Why yes, that is Ollie and Professor at the beach!
When I was 22 years-old I had my first battle with skin cancer. Being that I was born and raised in South Florida and have a family history of skin cancer, this was not a very big shock, however, needless to say it was still very devastating. Due to my family history and fair skin, I was proactive about seeing a dermatologist and luckily able to catch the cancer in the very early stages.  Thankfully, after two biopsies my doctor was able to get all of the cells out.  However, that was not the end.  There is no end. 

Moving forward I had to see a dermatologist every six months for a full body check and without fail, every appointment until I was 28 I had to have a biopsy on at least one “suspicious” mole.  Nine times out of ten there were precancerous cells that required me to have further deeper or wider biopsies of the site.  Today, at 35 years old I am now down to annual visits and thankfully have not had anything removed in almost two years.  

I was told at that first appointment that family history or not, the bulk of my skin damage was done during the first 18 years of my life.  Since hearing that and doing my own research I have found numerous studies all confirming that the majority of skin damage is done during your childhood years. It is crucial to be very cautious about sun exposure during these formative years.. 

So… big surprise...  I am a full-on FREAK about Ollie’s sun exposure. Some of you may remember the umbrella stroller trick from last year when Ollie still to young for sun block. 

I don't care if it looks silly, my kid is cool and safe!

Yeah.  I still do it!  It is one thing to have a stroller with a good sunshade, it’s another to protect those tiny little toes that stick out from the sunshade’s cover.

Everyday without fail, 15-30 minutes before we go out for our walk or to play at the park I cover him in sun block.  I want to make sure he understands from a very young age that putting on sunblock is par for the course when going outside to play.  I try to get him to wear a hat and even sunglasses, but since that is usually a complete fail, I try to stay in the shade with him whenever possible, use the umbrella over the stroller, and when all else fails try to just limit the amount of constant sun exposure. 

Now, while I am a huge advocate for really avoiding prolonged sun exposure all together, I know that is just plain redonkulous to do. In fact, I LOVE being outside, and so does Ollie. Really, what child doesn't love to be outside? 

As we all know, I hope, using a really good sunscreen is the key to safe fun in the sun.  Now, when I say really good, I do not necessarily mean really expensive.  I personally use Baby Time! Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 from Epecincial.  Big surprise I know since most of you know I LOVE this company-- shameless plug-- but they have also been nice enough to support this post by giving away a Sunny Sunscreen to one lucky reader!! See below…)  

Now, all of that being said about loving my  Baby Time! by Episencial Sunscreen, I would not be using it if it did not have a stellar rating from the EnvironmentalWorking Group. For those of you who do not know, The Environmental Working Group is the nation’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization. Their mission is to "serve as a watchdog to see that Americans get straight facts, unfiltered and unspun, so they can make healthier choices and enjoy a cleaner environment." 

Every year, they do a study on the best sunscreens on the market.  The products are rated on five factors encompassing overall ingredient safety and product efficacy in providing sun protection.  1400 products were tested this year, 184 passed the test. Still only a few made the top honors of a 0-2 super safe low hazard rating. Baby Time Sunny Sunscreen came out with one of the very best overall ratings on the market with a 1. This means it has a super low hazard to use on my baby’s skin, but still very effective. I am not taking any chances with my child’s beautiful porcelain skin… 

Running through the sprinklers at the park.
It is his new favorite thing!

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance.

Here are some tips from on the best way to protect your child in the sun.

Follow these simple rules to protect your family from sunburns now and from skin cancer later in life.
·  Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
·  When possible, dress yourself and your kids in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, like lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.  
·  Select clothes made with a tight weave - they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better.
·  Wear a hat or cap with a brim that faces forward to shield the face.
·  Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, when UV rays are strongest.
·  Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection (look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child).
·  Use sunscreen.

I hope after reading my story and the importance of being very protective of your child’s skin during the early years you won’t take any chances either.  As promised, Episencial is giving one lucky reader a Full size Baby Time Sunny Sunscreen!  Enter below.

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April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit