It’s a good idea, because exposure to ultraviolet rays may raise his risk for cataracts and other eye problems later in life. But if your child resists, don’t push it. A visor or a hat that keeps the sun out of his eyes might be a more workable choice than shades for babies, toddlers, and even some older kids.
If your child is open to wearing sunglasses, let him help pick them out so he’ll be more likely to wear them. And make sure you wear sunglasses, too, because he’s probably eager to copy you.
Not just any sunglasses will do, though. Buy a pair with a label saying it blocks 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Labels that say the glasses meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) requirements or block UV absorption up to 400 nm (nanometers) mean you’re getting this protection, too. You can trust the labeling in reliable stores, but not necessarily with a vendor on the street.
How light or dark the lenses should be is a matter of personal preference, as the UV protection comes from a chemical applied to the lenses, not their color. If you’re not sure what to pick, I recommend medium tint. Lighter lenses don’t offer much comfort in bright sun, and very dark ones will prompt your child’s pupils to expand to let in more light — along with more UV radiation, if the lenses don’t block 100 percent.
Many people (myself included) like polarized lenses, which reduce glare. Also, remember to replace sunglasses once the lenses become scratched, and to choose polycarbonate lenses for impact resistance.