One of our optometry students Lowana welcomed two little sisters into the world a couple of years ago. With a keen interest in protecting their eyes, she began to convince her mum of the importance that they wear sunglasses from a young age. Mum had questions as to how early they should be wearing sunglasses, and how to actually keep them on in the first place!
So let’s explore the ins and outs of sunglasses for our littlest family members.
Why is it important for young children to wear sunglasses?
As we explored in our blog “Does My Child Need Sunglasses?”, it is vital that kids wear sunglasses from an early age for a myriad of reasons. Around half of our lifetime, sun exposure comes before the age of 18, and this exposure begins from the first year of life.
It is especially important to protect babies’ eyes from sunlight. As they have less protective pigment in their eyes, their crystalline lens is still completely transparent and they have very large pupils, making them more susceptible to harmful UV from the sun than adults and older children. Simply keeping them in the shade is not always enough though—UV rays are reflected off all surfaces, which is why getting a good pair of sunglasses for your baby is so important.
What to Look for in Sunnies for Very Young Kids
We must remember that babies and toddlers are much smaller and have completely different needs to older children and adults, and as a result, there are a number of important things to look for when choosing sunglasses for your babies and toddlers:
This is important considering very young children lack finesse—they’d coarsely grab at an object and then smack it on their face in a very cute way. A soft and flexible material is more gentle on a young child’s head and will maximise comfort during wear, meaning they will be more likely to wear them.
Coverage over the whole front of the eyes as well as a good wrap around to provide peripheral protection is important to maximise protection and minimise the amount of harmful light that can enter your child’s eyes.
A wrap-around strap:
This will help keep sunglasses on your child’s face and discourage them from taking them off constantly.
Category 3 or 4 lenses:
These lenses are labelled 100% protection against UVA and UVB light to give maximum protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
How to Get Your Toddler to Wear Sunglasses
Toddlers can be stubborn! If they decide they don’t want to wear their sunglasses, it may be difficult to convince them otherwise. Similarly, babies have a tendency to pull things off their face.
Here at Eyecare Kids we have a few tips to help you protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays:
Set a good example:
Wear sunglasses yourself and have any older siblings wear their own too. Toddlers will learn to imitate the behaviour of their older role models.
When you first put on their sunnies, it should be in the sun:
Some parents make the mistake of trying to get their little ones used to sunnies indoors. However, due to the darkness of the lenses, this can scare the child and discourage wear.
It is normal, especially for older infants, to try to pull their sunglasses off at first. The more you put them on and encourage them to wear them, the easier it gets. Starting as young as possible will make the process easier. And remember—if you can even get them to wear them for 5 minutes the first time, that is a great effort!
Let them feel in control:
Take them “sunglasses shopping” and let them help choose their own pair.
When the twins turned one, Lowana surprised them and her Mum with some sunglasses from our speciality baby range at Eyecare Kids. The girls got used to wearing them when they went for walks in the pram and when they played at the beach!
Come in to Eyecare Kids for help and advice on choosing the right sunglasses for your babies and toddlers. Our staff will be glad to assist, and babies and toddlers are always a welcome sight!