I spent a lot of my childhood with a sunburn. If we were at the beach for the day, my Mom may have offered up some Coppertone, but one swim and you were back to square one. Of course that was the olden days (as my kids often remind me), so we didn't know just how dangerous sunburns were, we only knew they were painful. But now. Now we know. There are direct links between sunburns and skin cancer, and we want to keep our kids safe from that while being conscious of the chemicals we use on their bodies. What's the answer? I don't have one, but let me share a list of things that I do (some you've probably heard of) to keep us sunsafe.
Stay out of the noonday sun. How? We go out early in the morning, and later in the evening, and find indoor activities for midday. That was easy when I had little nappers, but harder when my kids got older.
Cover up. That means buying a couple of (often pricey) UPF50+ pieces of clothing. I use a white linen looking shirt, that I keep with me either on, or in my backpack.
Sun protective swimwear. I wear boy short bottoms, with a long sleeve UPF50 swimshirt. My shoulders have always been the most sensitive to the sun, so covering them up is a must. Kids, full body long sleeve, long leg swimsuits, and a wide brim hat.
Find shade whenever possible. If you have a choice of two local parks, choose the shady one. You can find a list of all the splash pads and wading pools in Toronto here on my site. Although they are listed alphabetically not by shade.
When you have to be out in the sun-use sunscreen. We use this as our last option, beach days, days at Canada's Wonderland, family picnics etc.
The thing that I keep in mind is sunscreen is a tool. I consider its use, consider other option, and use it when I have to.