This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

How To Get Sunscreen On A Kid Who Hates It

Make it a game!

We're in the middle of summer, which means parents are heading to the great outdoors with their kids. It also means parents are bracing for the battle of the sunblock if you have a little one who just refuses to let you apply the lotion.

The sun's UV rays can burn a tot's skin in no time but try convincing them of that. What does a toddler know about melanomas? They live in the moment, so the fact that one blistering sunburn in childhood almost doubles the risk of adult cancers is just not going to be a persuasive argument for a little one who can't see life beyond the sandbox in the next five minutes.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

On a cloudy day, the sun doesn't even feel hot but the UV rays that burn are just as prevalent. So, how is a parent to slather up a kid with sunblock when their kids feel it's as repugnant as a dose of cod liver oil?

Try these five tips to keep your tot sun-safe:

Give them control: You may find that kids are more willing to put sunblock on themselves rather than be subjected to you smear it on them. Of course, they are not as talented at applying, but that is not the point. Let them exercise their own mastery as they glide the sunblock all over one area, whilst you proceed with smearing the rest on them so they get full coverage!

Getty Images

Make it a game: Everything is more fun for kids if it's turned into a game. Make up a silly sunblock song, apply dots in a funny pattern they have to guess, or play the sunblock tickle game. Sure, the game might take a bit longer, but everyone is happy and you're making a childhood memory, so that's worth time!

Try different products: You may find spray is easier and faster to apply than lotion. Have them twirl like a ballerina while you dose them! If you're afraid of spraying the lotion in their eyes, try a sunblock stick for the face to give you more control of the application. Different products have different ingredients so their refusal may also be a sign they are reacting to an ingredient in the product.


Cover up with clothes: Explain that being in the sun requires sun protection and ask if they would prefer to wear sunblock or wear a protective shirt and hat.

Give a choice: Instead of fighting over sunblock, just offer the choice of either being outside with sun protection or being inside instead. You may have to wait for an hour, but eventually, a child's desire to join others playing in the backyard will motivate them to want to endure the sunblock application.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact