By Maura Keating
Remember when you only worried about whether sunscreen would work? Now I worry about the chemicals that make the sunscreen work. (To see how your favorite sunscreen–and other cosmetics–measures up, visit the Skin Deep website.) With an active toddler, I can’t hide from the sun, but I can extend the shade. Protect-a-Bub makes products that help you protect your Bub from the elements, including sunshades, swim and sun wear, rain covers, carrier covers, stroller inserts, blankets, hats, and even lip moisturizer. We tested a few of Protect-a-Bub’s sun protection products–the Classic Single and Back Seat Tandem Stroller Sunshades, Sun Protective Swimwear, Reversible Swim Hats, and the ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat kit.
When I test-drove and reviewed eight strollers this past spring, I discovered that finding a good canopy on a good stroller is near impossible. As my son gets heavier, we have become semi-frequent stroller users. The stroller is especially essential for difficult nap times. My son passes out by the time I near the Seven Stars CafÃ© to retrieve the iced coffee that I earned for patience with a difficult toddler. Although I was content with the canopy on our current stroller, the hood does not pull down as far as I would like. On sunny days, my son’s legs stick out from the bottom and I need to apply sunscreen if he’s wearing shorts or sandals. Since some stroller trips (especially emergency nap inducers) aren’t planned, finding and then applying sunscreen on a reluctant toddler can be a hassle.
The Protect-a-Bub Sunshade is a lifesaver. The sunshade ties easily to any stroller frame with four double ties. The breathable mesh fabric (available in black or blue) is rated with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+. That rating means that it provides 98-plus percent protection from the sun’s rays while still allowing air to circulate, keeping Baby cool. The side vents allow Baby to see what is happening on all sides, enabling toddlers to keep their eyes on passing fire trucks and dogs, while maintaining 70 percent sun protection.
The Protect-a-Bub sunshade resembles the long, wide brim of a baseball cap. The fabric stretches over the canopy of the stroller and a flexible wire at the top keeps the sunshade above the stroller. The resulting shade extends far enough to cover my son from head to toe, even when reclined. The sunshade also provides protection for my son’s sensitive eyes when the sun is low on the horizon. Incidentally, Protect-a-Bub also makes sunshades for car seats. I wish I had known about them when my son was an infant. We never did find an adhesive film or a roll-down shade that worked in our car windows.
The sunshade needs to be removed in order to properly collapse the stroller. The Protect-a-Bub sunshade unties in a hurry and folds away easily for storage. It comes with a matching drawstring bag that can be stashed under the stroller or in a pocket in your diaper bag so that it will always be there when you need it.
Protect-a-Bub also makes a Back Seat Tandem Sunshade that fits all of the Phil and Teds double strollers. I reviewed the Phil and Teds Sport in May and loved the stroller’s functionality for parents with two children who need a ride without wanting a double wide. However, the Phil and Teds Sport does have a few problems, and the sunshades (and lack thereof in the back!) were parents’ biggest gripe. The Back Seat Tandem Sunshade works like the larger single sunshade reviewed above, but it is designed to fit in the compact space between the seats with an extra flap at the back. Instead of ties, the Tandem Sunshade attaches with snaps. Baby is fully protected from the sun and it is still easy to get Baby in and out without removing the sunshade. Now that summer is here with all of it UVA and UVB, I dislike the sunshades on the Phil and Teds so much that I would use both sunshades for a long day in the sun. When you are ready to go inside, the Back Seat Tandem Sunshade fits back into its own bag.
Protect-a-Bub also makes stroller covers and sunshades for compact strollers, twin and triple wide strollers, and jogging strollers. A new sunshade features sparkly accessories. A three-in-one cover provides complete protection for naps and privacy and to keep bugs out. I love the Protect-a-Bub sunshades so much that I’m ordering a rain cover so that we’ll be protected no matter the weather. After all, emergency nap rides cannot be called off due to rain.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination and Baby has escaped the confines of the stroller, Protect-a-Bub offers still more ways to shield Baby from the sun. In sizes from zero to eight, Protect-a-Bub’s sun protective swimwear provides protection for a wide range of sizes. The two-piece swimsuits are designed for maximum sun protection with extended short sleeves (long sleeves are also available) and shorts that hit below the knee. I took the advice offered on the size chart and ordered a size up for an even longer fit. Like the sunshades, the Protect-a-Bub swimwear boasts a rating of UPF 50+. The two-toned styles feature bright colors that stand out in a crowd, making it easy to spot your kid across a crowded pool or beach. Protect-a-Bub uses a breathable polyamide fabric that resists chlorine, sun, surf, and sand and does not break down like Lycra can, reducing the sun protection. The two-piece set is made for easy diaper changes and potty breaks. If you’re using diapers, you’ll need a swim diaper underneath the shorts since there is no mesh to catch any mess. The fabric dries quickly. Unlike other swimsuits that bother my son after a while, my son was happy to play in this swim set all day, hopping in and out of the pool with abandon.
The UPF 50+ reversible swim hat comes in colors that match the Protect-a-Bub swim set to create an entire ensemble or mix it up and go for contrasting colors. The hat is made from the same lightweight, fast-drying polyamide fabric featured in the swimsuit. I didn’t have to worry about bringing multiple hats in case one got wet. The fabric is stretchy and the hat stays on my son’s head despite vigorous splashing and active water play. My son has a big head so I ordered a large size and I was glad that I did. I found that both Protect-a-Bub hats that we tested ran small.
The Protect-a-Bub ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat is ingenious. My son loves hats, but we know lots of kids who just aren’t into that sort of fashion statement. The “Paint Your Own” Sun Hat is the ideal solution since kids are much more likely to wear their own creations. The ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat kit includes one lightweight adjustable UPF 50+ hat with a bright orange, green, or navy brim as well as six non-toxic paint colors and disposable brushes. We asked our neighbor’s creative three-year-old daughter to be our tester and set up our project on a big vinyl tablecloth. The paint comes in little plastic pots and we had plenty to cover the hat, plus some extra for future art projects. After the hat was painted to perfection, the hat had to dry and then be ironed to set the paint. After the paint is set, the hat is machine washable. Our tester loved showing off her beautifully designed new hat, and her parents loved that she was wearing a hat. The ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat Kit is also available with group purchase discounts. It would be a great project for an play group or even a birthday party!
I love the summer season and my son would spend every minute outside if I let him, but the summer’s hot sun and harsh weather conditions don’t always love us back. Protect-a-Bub helps me get outside without fear and reduces our use of harmful chemicals. Open your heart and let the sun shine in–Protect-a-Bub keeps you covered from head to toes peeking out of your stroller.
Protect-a-Bub UPF 50+ Classic Single Sunshade, $38.95
Protect-a-Bub UPF 50+ Back Seat Tandem Sunshade, $38.95
Protect-a-Bub UPF 50+ Sun Protective Swimwear, $24.95 – $28.95
Protect-a-Bub UPF 50+ Reversible Swim Hats, $14.95
Protect-a-Bub ‘Paint Your Own’ UPF50+ Sun Hat Kit, $24.95
To find Protect-a-Bub products near you, visit the “Store Locator” at protect-a-bubusa.com
Kidoinfo readers can receive a 10% discount on any protectabub product order purchased on www.protectabub.com by using code protect4spring.
We are giving away a ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat kit to five lucky Kido readers. Email anisa (@) kidoinfo (dot) com with your child’s favorite “fun in the sun” activity to enter. Please put “paint your own sunhat contest” in the subject line.
– One entry permitted per person; U.S. entrants welcome to enter.
– Contest closes at midnight EST, July 27, 2008.
– Five winners will receive one ‘Paint Your Own’ Sun Hat kit.