With a complexion that rivals the colour of snow, I’ve always had to dodge the sun; hiding under umbrellas on holidays and lathering myself head to toe with sunscreen to avoid a sunburn.
So when my son Max was born, I was delighted that his complexion was quite dark (like his dad’s), enough to spare him the constant worry I’ve lived with most of my adult life. But as the weeks and months went by, Max’s skin seemed to get lighter and lighter until one day my sister said to me: “Max isn’t really dark anymore — he looks more like you.” And she was right.
So, because of his fair skin and a history of melanoma (skin cancer) in our family, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time looking for hats that would protect him from the sun’s harmful rays. Here are some of the ones I’ve bought and others I’ve discovered through research and talking with other moms.
Mountain Equipment Co-op
This great store has a variety of sun hats for children and adults. For the past couple of years, we’ve bought a sun hat that covers both the neck and ears and it has worked out really well. Although it doesn’t have a strap, this hat seems to stay on even as Max runs around the backyard or at the local park. It also will last for a couple of years because of an adjustable Velcro closure at the back.
One of the newest addition to the MEC family of hats is the Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap.
There is a cape that provides full coverage for the neck, while the stiffened brim shades the face from the sun and screens the wind. The fabric is lightweight, which keeps you cool, dries quickly and crushes easily so you can cram it into even a small bag.
Snug as a Bug
This company has been manufacturing practical clothing in Canada since 1982. It has several SPF 50+ sunhats, made from 100 per cent nylon fabric, which blocks out 97 per cent of UV rays. The hats have a light-weight design and adjustable chinstraps to ensure they stay on securely.
The Gift Shop of the Botanical Gardens
4101 Sherbrooke St. E.
(514) 872-1434 or online at www.snugasabug.com
Nozone Clothing Company
Nozone has fabulous sun protective hats, clothing and great swimwear for kids. I always feel so relieved when I put a full body swimsuit and hat on Max before sending him out to play in the local splash pad with the sun beating down on the concrete. And the merchandise lasts a long time — my sister has been passing down swimsuits to me over the years and they’ve lasted through several summers.
LMNOP, 4919 Sherbrooke St. W.
(514) 486-4572 or online at www.nozone.ca
(The website has a “clearance” section where you can get some great deals).
This U.S.company has several sun protective hats and clothing for kids and adults. It has so many styles of hats that there truly is something for everyone. One of the most popular models is the Kids’ Play Hat, which has a four-inch brim that continues around the sides for cheek and ear protection. These hats also have mesh ventilation and are made from breathable nylon fabric with a very high sun factor protection.
There are no retail locations in Montreal so you have to order online at www.sundayafternoons.com
Other honorable mentions
The Joe Fresh line of clothing at Loblaws also has wide-brimmed hats for kids – some with and some without SPF factor, so check carefully before buying.
Tilley has several wide-brimmed hats for kids. Go online at www.tilley.com to find the nearest retail location.
Oversized umbrella shades the family
This is an innovative product that will protect your family from the sun, rain and wind at sporting events, the park or at the beach. Called SKLZ Sport-Brella, this dome shaped canopy opens in seconds like an umbrella and can shade an entire family thanks to a 125 SPF. No more baking in the sun or getting soaked while watching the kids play soccer or other sports.
It also has zippered windows at the sides for efficient airflow and additional visibility, pockets for gear and valuables as well as tethers/ground stakes for stability. Plus, it folds up into an easy-to-carry bag. The Sport-Brella can be purchased at Canadian Tire stores or online at www.sklzstore.com. (see photo – top)
Make sun safety a priority
Hats are one important part of sun safety, but the Canadian Dermatology Association offers families five ways to keep little ones safe in the sun:
- Limit sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and especially around midday. If possible, try to keep children out of the sun from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s radiation is strongest.
- Use wide-brimmed or legionnaire-style hats, as well as clothing to shade the skin.
- Try to keep children in the shade as much as possible, by sitting under trees, an awning or an umbrella.
- Apply a SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Don’t apply sunscreen too close to the eyes. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or after swimming or perspiring a lot. And don’t forget to use a lip balm with a minimum SPF 30.
- Protect children even on cloudy days since most of the sun’s rays can penetrate light cloud cover.