This is something I should never admit on a public forum but: I am working on my baby’s base tan.
Am I saying that I’m going to tan my baby until she looks like an adorable leather handbag?
No. Am I going to let her get sunburned so the likelihood of her getting melanoma increases dramatically? No. I do not want my baby to be sunburned nor do I want to put her at risk for skin damage. Am I going to slather her in baby oil and then let her roast in the sun like an adorable rotisserie chicken? No. No. No.
But do I want her skin to gradually get used to the sun? Yes, yes I do.
The other night, I was out with a Mom friend of mine, and I commented her on her good “color,”* acquired from her Florida vacation.
“Oh yeah,” she said. “We’re all tan, even the kids. It felt really good. I’m so over over-sunblocking my kids.” (Editor’s note: This is definitely me paraphrasing a very long, good explanation she gave me in regards to sun and Vitamin D and how a little bit of unprotected sun exposure is good for you.)
Folks. It was a revelation to me. A huge, huge earthquake. Because, yes. Of course. Of course our children can be tan (ish)! (To a certain extent!) (But not too tan!) (We are not being neglectful parents!)
My baby is practically a mole person. This winter, she barely got any sun whatsoever. We would bundle her up in the morning, throw her in the car, and then she would be inside in daycare until we would bundle her back up, drive her home and put her to sleep. Her little eyes would water if they even looked at the sun.
I don’t think this is healthy. Everyone needs a little bit of sun in moderation.
So, what if, instead of starting now and hovering over her and slathering sunblock on her again and again until the end of time (aka: October), I let her skin gradually get used to the sun while the sun isn’t so hot? On Sunday, when it was 65 degrees and we were working in the yard, I took her shirt off and let her, for the first time in many, many months, get some sunshine on her skin for 15 minutes. Then, like the yuppie, over-protective mom I’ve been conditioned to be, I put a shirt on her (but no hat. SO DANGEROUS). (Outcome: No change. Not tan, not sunburned. Just a little bit of color.)
My plan is to continue to do this in order to let her skin get used to the spring sun. Then, during the summer, when the sun gets hotter and UV rays are higher, figure that her porcelain skin won’t immediately burn to a crisp if she dares step out into the sun without a hat (because, let’s face it, girlfriend is going to immediately rip off any hat I put on her head). Let her melanin do some work the way her body in relation to the earth’s rotation is supposed to.
In short, I am going to put away the sunblock for the month of April in little spurts and let her get some healthy sun. A little, tiny, wee bit of sun. She will not be a baby version of this:
In the meantime, please don’t call Social Services on me? Thank you.
*Are we allowed to say someone has “good color” anymore? I AM NERVOUS.