photo: Solar Buddies

Putting sunscreen on a squirmy child is about as easy as trying to bathe an angry cat: They squirm. They try to run away. They whine. So what’s a parent to do to protect those baby-soft faces, other than give up entirely and head indoors? Here are some easy ideas:

Use a Stick — and a Spray
Stick sunblocks are great for kids who perpetually scream “I want to do it myself!” Of course, they’ll never get their whole face done right, so you’re still going to need to help them spread the stuff on (or use a spray) once they’ve covered the bulk of their uncovered skin.

Get Creative With Applicators
If you’d rather use lotion sunscreen (which in our opinion is best for an even spread), give your kids novel ways to slap the stuff all over their bodies. Makeup sponges — or even paint brushes — can work well and make sunscreening fun for kids. Or try this awesome sunscreen applicator that was mom-designed specifically for kids to use themselves.

Distract With This Song (and Your Phone)
Not only will your wiggle worm be distracted by this adorable “Sunscreen March” on YouTube, but it will also mean that you’ll likely be handing her a smartphone, which almost always works to keep kids still.

Put Long Sleeves and Hats on When Possible
If you just can’t get your squirmy little one to sit still for a proper sunscreen application, at least make sure she’s got a hat and sun-protective clothing on to keep her safe, especially during peak sun hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.).

Read Stories or Watch Shows That Emphasize Being Safe in the Sun
It’s always good to hammer in little lessons via stories and TV shows that kids will want to read and watch. This PBS-sponsored short about why sunscreen matters is easy for kids to understand. You can also get this “Sun Show” DVD that is packed with fun segments about sun safety. If you’d rather read to your tiny tot, this free eBook from Sun Safe Schools will teach your kids a little about sun safety.

Make It Part of the Routine
Put the sunblock right by the front door, so that everybody lathers up when they leave the house. The more you make it part of your routine, the easier it will get to get stubborn kiddos in on the game.

Do you have any good tips or tricks for how to get sunscreen onto wiggly children? Share them with us in the comments below.