Getting toddlers and young children to wear sunglasses can be hard. Very hard. Just about as hard as keeping shoes on their feet, food in their belly (and not on the floor), and their hands out of the trash bin. At the time, it can seem to be an ongoing and hopeless battle, with no end in site, until one day, just like that, it’s over. You’ve won.
Suddenly, they want to wear their shoes (and can even put them on by themselves!). At last, they actually eat the dinner you’ve been slaving over for two hours (and perhaps even ask for more). And finally, that trash bin is simply not as interesting as it was two weeks ago.
As with many of the things that we, as parents, strive to teach our children, getting them to wear their sunglasses doesn’t always come easy. And as with many of the things that we, as parents, strive to teach our children, we don’t just give up at the first sign of trouble.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: familiarize your child with sunglasses from infancy. The sooner your child becomes comfortable with sunglasses, the better it is for them, and the easier it is for you!
There are many beautiful and functional sunglass options available for infants, complete with shatterproof lenses and head straps, that can be worn safely and securely (and stylishly!) by infants as young as newborn (see below for examples, all of which are available at www.childrenseyeworks.com).
If you’re dealing with a toddler who has never worn sunglasses before, and you find that they take them off the minute you put them on, don’t give up. Remember that you are trying to establish a healthy habit, and often times habits, especially the healthy ones, take some time to form.
And trust me when I say that it’s worth the effort. With many children receiving three times the annual U.V. dose of an adult and up to 80% of lifetime exposure by the age of 20, it’s definitely worth the effort. Children’s eyes are most at risk from U.V. exposure because the lens, which filtrates the light, has not yet fully developed as it has in an adult’s eyes. Extended exposure to the sun’s U.V. light has been linked to cataracts (clouding of the eye’s natural lens), macular degeneration (degeneration of the most sensitive part of the retina responsible for visual acuity and color vision), pinguecula and pterygium (two different types of growths), and photokeratitis (corneal sunburn).
And with children running around as wildly as they do, sunglasses also help protect their eyes against dust and debris.
So even though it may be a struggle at first (as are many things we try to get our children to do), it’ll be well-worth it in the end when you know you have done your part in helping your children establish eye-healthy habits early by teaching them to protect something as invaluable as their vision.
Here are some helpful tips to move you and your family in the right direction:
- Start Early: The sooner you introduce sunglasses to your child, the better. Infants can and do wear sunglasses!
- Remember the Function behind the Fashion: The sooner you realize that your very own sunglasses go above and beyond a simple accessory, the better you’ll feel about buying your child a pair. Don’t hesitate to get your child an awesome pair of shades; it’s nice to know that sunglasses are a beautiful combination of fashion and function.
- Engage Them in the Process: Many children enjoy a sense of control and responsibility. Engage them in the sunglasses selection process by asking them what colors they like, if they know what sunglasses are for, and how to take proper care of them. Make it exciting!
- Establish a Routine: Incorporate sunglasses into your “going outside” routine and keep it consistent, even on a gloomy day. For example, your “going outside” routine may involve applying sunblock, putting on shoes, sunglasses, and hats.
- Lead by Example: Be sure to wear your sunglasses proudly whenever you’re outside, and take a moment to say something about it. You could say something like, “Wow, I love my sunglasses! They really help my eyes feel better outside! Did you grab yours?”
Children’s Eyeworks “MUST HAVE” List for Children’s Sunglasses
*Polycarbonate (shatterproof) lenses with 100% U.V.A. and U.V.B. protection
*A close or wrap-around fit that keeps the sun, dust and debris out
*A comfortable, light-weight fame