Suncream battles and how to end them


Suncream can be a daily battle, and can add stress to holidays – so how do you get suncream onto kids without arguments? Penny asked parent bloggers for their top tips, and researched exactly how you overcome the battle when your child is ultra resistant.


For some reason my son has always hugely objected to soaps and suncreams, it has become a real ‘sticky point’ at times. With family members who have had to have moles removed, it is an emotive issue for me too.  Some holidays we have had to have one adult holding him while the other puts it on as fast as possible, while promising ice creams and treats as a reward – it’s no fun for any of us and makes us feel terrible.

As suncream season approaches my husband and I make a plan together, and with my son. Approaching it consistently and as a family seems to help. As he gets older it is getting easier, but I’ve read a lot about this topic, and asked other parents for ideas, so here we go, some simple, practical ideas.


Firstly, here’s what the parents said about everyday suncream battles

Always use the transluscent spray as doesn’t seem to bother them so much as can’t see it. I do it quickly and make it a condition of going outside and do it all summer not just on very hot days so it becomes part of routine.

Becky from Thrifty Home.

I put cream on them both, and then challenge them to a race to see who can rub it in the fastest. Whoever wins gets a little treat. Yep, resorted to bribery.  Better that than sunburn. And we like the coloured cream so I can see the bits they’ve missed.

Steph from

Getting them to wear swim goggles while I put suncream on their face has been a lifesaver for me – as my two had a fear of getting it in their eyes. I also tell them that without suncream on, they won’t be able to go in the swimming pool. Works like a charm.

Donna from Mummy Central

We have a deal – I put it on her and she puts it on me. It’s not pleasant but it seems to work!

Liz from Me and my shadow

I have a roll on sunscreen from Sunsense which seems to help as it’s a bit easier to apply.

Emma from Mummy Mummy Mum

They know that if I do it, it will be a far less enjoyable experience. Nivea Sensitive seems to be the only one that doesn’t cause Dimples out come out in a rash. But we love the spray cans you can get from Banana Boat too. So easy!

Kelly from DomesticGoddesque
We use either a roll on one – or one that goes on blue and they rub it in they love getting rid of the colour once they have painted themselves with it.

Cerys from Rainy Day Mum


And when it’s more than just a ‘bit of a battle’…

Some children don’t like suncream, some positively cannot stand the feel of it, others have a sensory processing disorder which can make applying anything to the skin extremely difficult. What can you do in more challenging situations?


1. Talk about it, ideally when there isn’t suncream around, explain why it is important and the benefits in child’s terms, playing out longer, swimming, ice creams in the park.

2. Involve the child in purchasing sunscreen products, let them see the options, including sprays, lotions and wipes. Choice can be a powerful tool and product feel can vary immensely. Be prepared to buy different products for different parts of the body. Many adults buy facial suncream, yet expect kids to slather body lotion on their face. Encourage products that only need to be applied once a day.

3. Let the child have control, of the bottle and the process. That might mean it takes longer, so factor extra time in.

4. Don’t compare the child to siblings or friends, ridicule their protests or make them feel guilty or let on that you are emotional in any way. Easy to say, but easier if you…

5. Allow extra time to apply suncream, always do it before you leave the house and don’t leave it until the last minute when you are rushing to get out. Make extra time the first few times in the year you apply it, so no one feels pressurised.

6. Provide a towel, or cloth they are comfortable with, so they can dab their skin afterwards.

7. Provide distractions, television can be a great way to take the mind off the feel of suncream.

8. Involve another adult, it can be stressful.

9. Limit the amount of suncream required with large hats, clothing and UVA protected swimwear.

10. Be sympathetic, provide lots of praise, and rewards.

11. Help them visualise the sun’s impact and externalise the need for suncream. Something like Smartsun wristbands, could be a useful tool, they are a disposable wristband that can be worn by anyone and give you an easy to read indicator for UV exposure. The waterproof bands measure the amount of UV radiation you have been exposed to and change colour accordingly.

Or you could always show them this:


What works for your family, we would love to hear your tips?

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