I'm wondering if anyone else has a redheaded toddler that they've had to be concerned about sun exposure. My daughter has strawberry blonde hair and has the pale reddish skin that goes along with it. Last summer I basically didn't let her out of the house without being covered head-to-toe in sunscreen and/or clothing and hats so that not a speck of skin was exposed to those "bad bad" UV rays (this was before we discovered paleo). Now I know how important it is for her to get vitamin D. I really don't agree with supplementing because I believe your body will regulate it best. I live in Ottawa, Canada (about the 45th parallel) and we've had a bit of warm weather recently and we were at the park yesterday for a couple of hours and she got burnt! I was so shocked because it's so early in the season, I wasn't even sure there was enough UV to even produce vitamin D right now! Anyway, I'm wondering how to balance exposure for vitamin D vs covering up to not let her get burnt.
My husband is very fair & we now live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, so we have to be very aware.
My rule of thumb is 10 min exposure initially, gradually increasing it as the days get longer. When we are hiking, If he has even a hint of pink on his shoulders, his shirt goes back on. We used this rule when we lived in the Pac NW as well.
His sun tolerance has definitely increased since supplementing with D3 2 years ago--so something to consider!
The Vitamin D Council has some great info: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org
Somewhat related to your query, (I also have a red-headed child) I think red-hair = people who do NOT tolerate gluten very well. And gluten may greatly interfere with their vitamin d status. Red hair generally means one is of Celtic descent, and such folks lived on oats rather than gluten grains, and are therefore particularly susceptible to gluten issues. Or at least that's my understanding.
Red heads and fair skinned folk will be at an increased risk for skin cancer, so it is a legitimate concern to prevent burning. My dad is a red head, and he has had melanoma on his scalp removed several times and always has to be very careful about always wearing a hat and sunscreen. Because he has already had cancerous growths removed, he exposes himself to the sun as little as possible and gets all of his vitamin D through supplementation. That being said, it doesn't take much exposure to get some vitamin D, but it is a safety that you could still get it through supplementation.
PS I live pretty close to you, Montreal!
Red head here, although now through help from Ms. CLairol, I was once Carrot Orange headed (at birth)...and certainly have the freckled and hardly tanned skin to go with it. I would consider a hat at the beach, lake or when outside for extended periods. My son is fair skinned so we usually let him go without sunscreen if he is playing in teh back yard, sort of in and out of the house but if he is to be out for a while we use 30spf and if he is going to be near or on the water and in blazing sun then 55+ and waterproof. Most have chemicals I dont wnat to use but I also dont want him to get skin cancer either...so I am shooting for a balance. Just keep a very light cover up available tucked away in the car for just such times when you dont have sunscreen.
Best of luck, I am going to attempt to use mostly zinc oxide this summer to lessen the chemicals..
* anyone have good sunscreen reccommendations?
I'm just like your daughter- strawberry blonde with freckles. I used to never tan- ever! I just burned and went right back to white. I would go to the beach as a child and wear sunscreen- religiously applying it every hour, proudly leave the beach as pale as I arrived, only to be bright red and in pain an hour later. It's really frustrating because it's so hard to monitor when you're fair skinned.
I'm now an adventure guide and spend lots of time in the sun. I'm to the point where by the end of the summer I can go several hours without sunscreen and not burn. Here is what I do: