I’ve always been conscious about the importance of Slip, Slap, Slop, Seek, Slide when it comes to keeping not only my children but myself safe in the sun. If you’re new to this parenting lark or have simply never come across this message before it’s a quick way to remind you to
slip on a shirt
slap on a hat
slop on some suncream
seek some shade
slide on some sun glasses
Originating from a SunSmart campaign by the Australian cancer council, it didn’t really start making waves in Britain until 2011 but it’s such an important message that we should be chanting it at the very hint of summer (however illusive it can be over here!)
It was actually a cold, wet and miserable day when I began writing this but I decided it was an important topic to share along with the idea on whether you should encourage children to wear sunglasses, or sunnies as they’re known in Chez Nutshell.
And the catalyst for this brain wave was a comment I received when my toddler was a very little baby. Probably not intended to scorn, it struck me none the less as more the ignorance of the dangers of the sun and how the message still wasn’t getting across.
Babies, Sunglasses and Opinions
It was back in 2014 on a glorious summer morning and I’d taken my 8 week old baby out for a trip to the beach. Avoiding the mid day sun as recommended, I wanted to get out and being the velcro baby he was, our only option to get from A-B in foot was with a sling. So I popped on a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt, a wide rimmed cotton hat and some baby sun glasses called Baby Bandz which were designed for, you guessed it, babies.
My aim was to protect his developing eyes from the sun. Simples.
The comment however, was about being an over protective mum.
It’s not that I was annoyed by the comment, as it stands, I don’t think there is anything wrong by being protective and often the lines between motherhood, love and protection are very blurred. My annoyance was the ignorance than it was seen as acceptable for an adult to wear sunglasses but should you make you child wear them then you were doing something out of the ordinary.
I was reminded me of this comment when buying some funky Raybans for my pre teen. Every year I’ve bought my boys sunglasses in the hope they’ll wear them but more often than not they’ve sat in a draw after the initial excitement has passed. Despite me reminding them, they’ve always been a little hesitant, not wanting to appear different from their friends. Or so I thought.
In true sibling style, my eldest son decided he wanted some too. And when I reminded him of all the pairs I’d bought over the years which weren’t worn. He explained that last year’s were uncomfortable and he couldn’t see through them properly.
So THAT was where I think I went wrong. Cheapie, bargain loving me, not wanting to waste money but feeling mum guilt at not getting them, may as well have thrown money down the drain. But I needed hard evidence that I needed to be spending a little more of my hard-earned cash, so I researched babies, children and sunglasses.
So where’s the evidence?
The advise was a resounding avoid cheap sunglasses.
The cornea, lens and fluids are clearer in a child’s eye than in an adult’s which allows more short wavelength light to reach the retina, which can lead to cataracts in later life.
Sunglasses need to be CE kite marked and block out 99% of the suns harmful rays and as children tend to spend more time outside than adults, it is thought that up to 80% of sun exposure takes place before the age of 18. (more on that can be found in this article at Made For Mums)
So I’m stepping out of my comfort zone this year and investing in some decent ones which they will wear. I’m hoping getting them a style they chose them selves will encourage them to not only take a little extra care of them. But also actually leave the house wearing them.
I’m rarely seen out and about at the hint of sunshine without my signature shades so we’re sending out the right messages. So this summer I will be making sure my children wear sunglasses as well as slopping on the sunscreen and all the other sun safe factors they need.
And if I’m an over protective mum for taking care of my children’s future vision, then so be it!
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