Vitamin D Requirements: Let the Sunshine In
Submitted by Erin
The other day my mom pointed out after bath time that my 1-year-old daughter still has a bright white bikini outline on her body. It's October. I could take her to the pool stark-naked and everyone would think she had a swimsuit on. My mom started lecturing me on the importance of sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and I felt like a terrible mother, sacrificing my kid's health because of my lack of organization.
But today, I feel vindicated. I just finished reading an article on how the American Association of Pediatrics now recommends that kids get double the amount of Vitamin D than previously suggested. Even better, the AAP mentions that the most natural source of Vitamin D is the sun—and they suggest that children be given a daily dose of sunshine. I can do that! In fact, I already do.
It's not that I'm against sunscreen (in theory anyway); but simply that sunscreen is one more thing to remember when I'm trying to get out the door. And honestly, it's better if I leave the sunscreen behind than say, my baby. I'm just not that organized. My kids also don't take their vitamins (that would require me buying them) or wear shirts in the summertime (again, another thing to remember).
All summer long, my girlfriends would plan playgroups at the neighborhood pools and I'd show up just as they were slathering their milky-white kids with SPF 4,229. Meanwhile, my totebag contained a swim diaper and (if I was lucky) a towel for the three of us to share. There were a few times over the summer that I remembered to throw in the two-year-old bottle of Hawaiian Tropic, a leftover from our last vacation, but that disappeared; so by the time August rolled around, my kids were sunscreen free. At that point, I'd quickly hike my kid's suits up to cover the glaring tan-lines and mutter something about how Id already applied sunscreen at home.
My friend Amanda's pool time arsenal involves heavy duty SPF 60 cream and SPF 50 continuous spray for touch-ups and SPF 50 Sport Ultra-Waterproof for times when her kids spend more than 20 minutes in the water. She also has long-sleeved UV-protective swim shirts and wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses for all of her kids. She even has those little stickers that change colors to warn her if her kids have spent too much time in the sun.
But you know what? My two tow-headed, pale-skinned kids never once got a sunburn. And I don't live in Nova Scotia either. I live in Texas. All summer long, their skin slowly darkened until they looked like kids who had (gasp!) spent some time in the sun. Remember what that looks like? Tan skin. Bleached hair. Tan lines. It's been awhile since you've seen that, huh?
So, while it's probably a good idea to at least buy a bottle of sunscreen next summer (my mother's bikini-line-in-October lecture sunk in a little), perhaps leaving the sunscreen off from time to time isn't such a bad thing. At least my kids are taking their vitamins, right?