Summer is coming – which sunscreen will you slather on your skin?
Sunscreen is a product that we are encouraged to use to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays while enjoying the outdoors. If you’re a parent, it’s likely you are even more concerned about protecting your children’s sensitive skin and making the safest choice possible.
But what to do we really know about the safety of the products we are choosing – in my research – it seems clear that we don’t know enough.
Note – be prepared when switching to safer sunscreens you are going to move into products that are going to be thicker, whiter and slower to absorb that other sunscreen choices. This is because they rely on a high concentration of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block the suns rays.
At least 7% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for UVA & UVB protection.
What to Avoid:
Spray and Powder Sunscreen
Sunscreen insect repellent combo – pesticides absorbing into your body
Ingredients; Oxybenzone or benzophenone-3, skin absorption, allergies, hormone problems
Brands; Coppertone, Banana Boat and Most Neutrogena
From the EWG:
No one understands the health implications of our exposures to complex mixtures of industrial compounds and pollutants: remarkably, federal health standards do not require companies to test most products for safety before they are sold, including nearly all chemicals in sunscreen and other personal care products. Little is known about the safety of most industrial chemicals. In the absence of data the federal government approves new chemicals for the market using computer models to predict if they are toxic to humans.
After 30 years of debate,the government has failed to set mandatory sunscreen safety standards. Companies are free to make their own decisions on everything from advertising claims to product quality. FDA now stands in direct violation of a Congressional mandate requiring the agency to finalize sunscreen safety standards by May 2006, flouting not only Congress but also consumers, who are reliant on sunscreen to protect their health.
EWG’s Top Ten List:
California Baby (SPF 30 or Higher)
CVS (with zinc oxide
Jason Natural Cosmetics – Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
Kiss My Face – Paraben Free series
Neutrogena – Sensative Skin Sunblock
Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer with zinc
SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense
Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face
Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears
After studying the EWG’s extensive list the following products have an EWG score of 0-3 for toxicity. My selections are for individual products, not the brands in general, as brand scores can vary widely.
Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas: Mineral Based Physical Sunblock SPF 30+
Kiss My Face Sunscreen Spf#30 + With Oat Protein 100% Paraben Free
Nature’s Gate Organics Be Solective Sunscreen for Face, SPF 30
All California Baby Sunscreens
Dermalogica Super Sensitive Face Block, SPF 30
Mustela Sun Cream for Sensitive Areas, SPF 50
Kiehl’s All-Sport ‘non-Freeze’ Face Protector, SPF 30
DDF Organic Sunblock, SPF 30
CVS Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45+
Walgreens Sunblock with Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears, SPF 45+
Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer, SPF 30 – Available at my Target
No-Ad Ultra Sunblock Lotion, SPF 60
If you must use a spray – these are your best bets:
Almay Sun Protector for Body Spray, SPF 30
Dermalogica Waterblock Solar Spray, SPF 30
Banana Boat Ultra Mist Kid’s Tear Free Continuous Spray Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30 – Only SPF 30 the SPF 50 is rated 9!
Shopping at Target:
I was recently at target, they had walls of sunscreen. I could only find one of the above products – After an hour of research using my telephone I was able to find 2 sunscreens that were an EWG 3 and the lowest score for a spray was a 5.
Coppertone WaterBabies Pure & Simple – SPF 50 – oil, fragrance & dye free
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion – SPF 60+
Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen – SPF 50
Do you dream that your children – or in my case husband – will ask this question at the dinner table?
You’re not alone – It’s just a dream in my home too! Do you know that ideally we would consume 9 – 1/2 cup servings of fruits and vegetables a day and should have no less than 5! Some of my friends seem mystified by how many vegetables my children eat, so I’m giving away my secret.
Many people are familiar with hiding puree’s in your food. I do use this technique, but need it less and less as my children eat their vegetables without me having to hide them.
Once you have this mix – add it to everything you cook that week at the end of 5-7 days cook up whatever is left and put it in the freezer for use on a day when you are out of the fresh mix.
We use this mix to up the veggie count in spaghetti sauce (1/2 vegetable and 1/2 meat), shepherd’s pie, tuna noodle casseroles and other comfort foods. I put it in mac & cheese, quesidilla, enchilladas, burritos, rice pilaf, soups, ready made spaghetti sauces (my kids never met a noodle they didn’t love!) and eggs. Basically if I’m cooking – there are mixed vegetables going in.
Once the mixed vegetables are in, I also add chopped frozen spinach to most dishes and other vegetables that are part of the dish. For example, in our home peas are part of shepherd’s pie and tuna casserole.
It’s also a good idea to add flax meal to any dish that will hide it’s dark color, 1-2 tablespoons in the sauce. A tablespoon in the pancakes or french toast egg mix. You won’t taste it, but you will amp up the nutritional value.
So there you have it. You are hiding vegetables, but they still know they are there.
Some of you may find your eaters pick around the vegetables (I’m OK with this, they can’t get them all) and in my experience they will eventually give up with most dishes. My daughter used to pick around the vegetables in spaghetti sauce and after enough nights of “you can’t have more noodles until you eat the sauce”… the sauce is now eaten with the noodles.
We just need to be more persistent and consistent than they are.
We take a the lid of the hydrogen peroxide and fill it with the liquid, saturate a cotton ball and squeeze the contents into the ear. If there is an infection you will see bubbling in short order. Lil’ Diva thinks it feels funny.
We then use use a dry cotton ball to absorb the liquid – NO SWABS – ever, ever, ever inside the ear canal!!!
We usually do this 2- 3 times. Morning, midday and before bed.
I am SUPER sensitive to ear issues, having suffered from chronic ear problems, so I really monitor the children if they have an infection. If the pain isn’t manageable with Advil or Tylenol I’ll take them in to the doctor pretty quickly.
You see little children carrying large backpacks that seem as big as their little bodies all the time. Do you ever wonder about it’s impact on their little bodies?
Turns out carrying heavy backpacks is bad for a child’s back. It causes compression of the spinal disk and increased spinal curvature. Curvature that is likely to be amplified if a backpack is worn over one shoulder. According to a recent study out of Wolters Kluwer Health.
Carrying heavy backpacks likely has long term implications for the probability of these children experiencing back problems as adults.
This study confirms what common sense should indicate. The good news is this is preventable!
We have made a real effort to curtail the amount of Television our children watch. Or at least I have, Dude and I aren’t exactly on the same page. He thinks I’m doing it the hard way. And he’s right, there are many times when turning the TV on would be much easier in the short run.
By leaving the Television off and limiting their exposure, I’m convinced they are developing their creativity and learning to come up with their own activities.
They also REALLY look forward to Saturday mornings with their father when they get to watch TV (and mom get’s to sleep in, so we all win!).
Recently, PND was asked to review The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan. P.K. has spent his career writing books that help children and parents alike. With the Looking Book he continues on that path. His other books; Heartprints
The story follows two brothers that go on a magical adventure in their own backyard. The Looking Book gently encourages young readers to get outside where they can get lost in nature.
Like other P.K. books I found it easy to get energetic and “into” reading this story. There were a number of places where it was easy to get excited with the kids, play and have fun. As they explore it was also easy to segway into a conversation with Lil Diva & Dude about all the things they love to do on their outside adventures.
I love reading stories to my children that reinforce the values that we are working hard to instill. It’s tough out there in this fast paced media driven world and anything that makes it a little easier to pry our children away from the electronics are much appreciated!
The book is fun to read, is the right length, and has a sweet message with a timeless feel. We’ll enjoy it for many a story time.
The major food manufacturer’s have been marketing food to kids forever.
It may take a little extra effort, but the fact is we can have greater success if we steal a few techniques from the marketing pros. Studies have shown that children will choose a “branded” banana over a plain one. It’s all in how you sell it!
Children don’t have a great sense proportion and portion sizes. As parents we can use this to our advantage.
When serving treats, placing them on a small plate, will make the treat seem bigger and they will think they have a bigger piece.
When serving healthier choices giving them a larger serving may work in your favor. Serving a sizable stack of green beans and having them eat four or five might get them to eat more than if you only give them only four or five beans to start out with.
These same principles work with beverages.
Typically you will want your children to drink a good amount of water – serving it in a large glass – say 12oz. They won’t finish it all, but if they drink half of it it’s still a nice quantity. My two each have a stainless steel water bottle they drink from throughout the day and I refill it as needed.
Juice is a special treat in our home, but if you are a juice family serving the juice in a smaller tall glass they will feel like they’ve had more than a shorter fat glass, when in fact the actual oz will be fewer.
Serving veggies you can get payoff for being creative. In our home I’ve found that food often goes over better if I give it a fun name:
Almond Butter has more nutrients and healthier oils than peanut butter. It’s also allowed in many schools that don’t allow peanuts. My children like both and it’s nice to have the options for variety. In our home the children can choose between the two, but if they choose almond butter then they can have it with fruit juice sweetened raspberry preserves. So almond butter is often the winner. Getting your child to eat alternatives like this is usually a matter of introducing it to them early.
In searching for fun ways to entice children to eat more fruits and vegetables and to fuel my creative juices (it’s hard not to get stuck in a rut!) I found Sheri, a mom from New York who does amazing things with her lunchboxes. She sends her 3 children to lunch with stunning Bento Boxes.
Little Diva drooled over Sheri’s amazing pictures, she wanted to try everything!
Sheri has agreed to share her ideas here at PND and I hope that our readers are inspired her work. Let her ideas inspire you and reach out of your own comfort zone to create better health for your family.
Children are little sponges – jumping at the bit to learn everything we have to teach them. If we start teaching them to live greener lives – it will be the only way they know (unless their friends are living differently – but that is a conversation for another article!).
For now I want to share the techniques that I find work in our home. In real life.
1. Water Conservation:
When they are washing their hands and have the water on full blast – teach them to turn it down.
When they want to keep flushing the toilet over and over again.
When playing with water – we try to fill containers and then turn the water off.
When brushing teeth, water doesn’t need to be on while they are brushing. They can rinse at the end.
When using water – we share. We talk about examples from the world.
I ask them to:
– Think about all the fish that need water to swim in, if we use all the water flushing the toilet, they won’t have water to swim in
– Think about all the pretty flowers, if we use more water than we need the plants will be too thirsty to make any flowers
– Think about the trees – if they don’t have water then we won’t have trees and all their beautiful shade to play under (we live in CA – shade is a big deal for us).
Once you’ve been having discussions like this with your toddlers, you can move to the next step.
When they are using too much water ask them why they shouldn’t use too much, let them show you that they are learning the lesson. It won’t happen overnight. And water play is so much fun for toddlers!
They will grow out of some of the water play, but the lifestyle habits they learn now will last a lot longer.
We haven’t had to do too much in this area, we live in Los Angeles and don’t have to sort our recycling, so it’s not much more than teaching what goes in the garbage, and teaching them what goes in which receptacle. My almost four year old will ask me – is this recycling, is this garbage?
In areas that require sorting – kids love sorting games. So if you turn the sorting into a game the kids learn while they have fun.
3. Don’t be Wasteful
This is an area where I feel as though I’m in a constant dance with cliche’s.
Who wants to be touting children in Africa – feeling like your own parents. Yet, I’m guilty, I do it.
When they ask for more milk, they have to finish it. If they don’t they are told they won’t get milk next time. There have been next times when they have gone without milk. Now they almost always finish their milk.
Often for breakfast we’ll have a cereal with a toast, bagel or something. I noticed they were asking for toast, but not eating it. I starting cutting the amount I gave them in half or not giving them toast. When they asked, I told them, you haven’t been eating your toast, so none today. After promising they would eat the toast I prepared it for them with a caveat. “What happens if you don’t eat all the toast?” – and they’ll tell me “no toast tomorrow”.
None of this is to have them stuffing their faces to avoid waste – but I believe in teaching my children to finish what they ask for… eat what they take… eat their crusts… the skins off the apple.
Other areas we talk about waste:
When my children don’t take care of something properly, we talk about other children who don’t have toys and how grateful they would be to have a toy like that one
Repair books or toys, when possible, rather than throwing them away. My daughter was pretty rough on her books early on, I became a book surgeon – I just couldn’t throw them away.
4. Buy Quality and take care of what they have.
Some toys are better than others.
When buying toys, make choices that are going to last and will have a life after your children are done with them. We love wooden toys by Plan Toys, Sprig, Green Toys and Melissa and Doug.
When children break a toy due to carelessness, consider not replacing it. They quickly learn to take care of what they have if they know it won’t be received with, it’s OK – we’ll get another one. When a toy breaks in our home, typically it’s a lesson, I hope next time you’ll remember to take care of your toys, so they don’t get broken. I’m sorry you won’t have this toy to play with anymore.
We started working on this pretty young. Children aren’t born knowing that dropping something on the ground and leaving it their is littering.
They had to be told – that’s littering, we don’t do that. And they had to be taught to pick it up. IMO – If you pick it up for them they aren’t learning as much. For the really young you can take them and place your hand over theirs and use your hands to close over theirs and ensure the item is picked up.
Let your children see you picking up other people’s litter, mine have seen me do it at the park. They’ll ask what you are doing and then you have another teaching opportunity. Another family we know – before they play at the park they pick up 5 pieces of litter.
6. Drinking water.
Every time we pass a water cooler my children want to take a cup and get a drink. I’ll let them have a drink, but they need to put it in their own water container. We have metal water containers for them and they are labeled their names to help prevent loss. My son has lied down on the ground crying because he wanted a cup, so there are some days this isn’t easy, but why waste a cup just to let a toddler have their way. The way I see if they win now they run the show forever!
7. Turn off the lights.
If my daughter had her way she’d sleep with all the lights in her room on as dim as they go. Instead she has a nightlight. I’m sure lights off will be a lifetime of training, if they are anything like we were when we were younger. Only we have 2 green reasons for turning them off.
8. Donate – when you are done with something
My sister had a baby. Now when we’re done with something it goes to “the baby”. I’m sure this technique will work with any baby that your child identifies with. My daughter now randomly comes up with things for “the baby”. Some of this will actually go to the baby and the rest will go to a charity. The idea is to get children used to moving things on to their next home when we’re finished with them.
9. Send Lunches without Waste
This sounds harder than it is. When I look around there are so many single serving pouches, easy conveniences.
What we use regularly are individual serving sized containers. I keep them in my pantry next to the “snackables” so I’m not running around my kitchen putting it together last minute. Every mom needs a system, snacks are sent in an insulated “little mermaid” lunch bag (a birthday party favor) with her “water bottle”. When they get older and might have hot lunches – I’ll use the metal thermos options now available and the reusable to go cutlery.
Batteries leach toxic metals and acid into the environment so be sure to take them to a recycling depot. They can be found at many grocery stores and at radio shack.
Rechargeable batteries are next on my list of green changes to implement in our home, I’ve started a list of everything that needs batteries, quantity and size so I have a starting point of how many batteries we need. I’ve been keeping a coffee tub of batteries that we take to recycle, but it’s time to step it up.
There you have it, 10 ways to be greener with some of our real life experiences on how we’ve
Don’t be surprised when they start lecturing you or a younger sibling on the “green way” to do things.