Protecting Your Child from the Sun: Your Essential Guide

September 14, 2023

Protecting Your Child from the Sun: Your Essential Guide

At Childhealthy we know as parents, protecting our children from harmful sun exposure is of utmost importance. With the summer season in full swing, it’s crucial to understand the best practices for safeguarding our little ones from the sun’s harmful rays. In this blog post, we’ll address common questions about sun protection and provide valuable answers to help you keep your child safe and healthy during outdoor activities.


Why is it important to protect children from the sun?

Protecting children from the sun is vital because their delicate skin is more susceptible to damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Overexposure to the sun can lead to sunburn, premature aging, eye damage, and an increased risk of skin cancer later in life. Taking proactive measures to shield children from the sun’s harmful rays helps safeguard their long-term health.

At what age should I start protecting my child from the sun?

Sun protection should start from infancy. Babies under six months old have extremely sensitive skin and limited melanin, the pigment that provides some natural protection against UV radiation. Keep infants out of direct sunlight and dress them in lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and broad-brimmed hats when outdoors.

What are the best sun protection practices for children?

Here are some key practices to follow when protecting your child from the sun:

Apply sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it generously to all exposed skin, including the face, neck, ears, and hands. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if your child is sweating or swimming.

Seek shade: Find shaded areas, especially during peak sunlight hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), when the sun’s rays are the strongest. This is particularly important for infants and young children.

Dress for protection: Dress your child in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs. Opt for tightly woven fabrics that offer better sun protection. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.

Use accessories: Consider using a stroller with a built-in sunshade or attach a clip-on umbrella for added shade. Use a beach tent or portable shade structure when spending extended periods outdoors.

Are there any specific precautions for water-related activities?

Extra precautions are necessary for water-related activities. Water reflects and intensifies UV radiation, increasing the risk of sunburn. Follow these guidelines:

Choose water-resistant sunscreen: Look for sunscreen specifically designed for water activities and labelled as “water-resistant.” However, reapply after every two hours or as directed, even if the sunscreen is water-resistant.

Utilise protective clothing: Dress your child in a rash guard or swim shirt with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) for added sun protection. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protective sunglasses.

Seek shade whenever possible: Take frequent breaks in shaded areas to reduce sun exposure during water play.

Can I use sunscreen on infants?

It is generally safe to use sunscreen on infants older than six months. However, it’s recommended to consult with a paediatrician before using sunscreen on infants. In the case of babies younger than six months, it’s best to keep them out of direct sunlight and rely on other sun protection methods like shade, clothing, and hats.

What are the signs of sunburn in children?

Signs of sunburn in children can include redness, pain, tenderness, blistering, and swelling of the skin. In severe cases, children may experience fever, headache, and general malaise. If your child shows signs of sunburn, it’s important to provide immediate relief, such as cool compresses, aloe vera gel, and pain relievers if necessary. Seek medical attention for severe or blistering sunburns.

Are there any long-term effects of childhood sunburn?

Childhood sunburns can have long-lasting effects on a person’s skin health. Studies suggest that experiencing sunburns during childhood increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Protecting children from the sun’s harmful rays and promoting sun-safe behaviours from an early age can significantly reduce this risk.

Protecting your child from the sun is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. By adopting sun-safe practices, such as using sunscreen, seeking shade, and dressing appropriately, you can safeguard your child’s delicate skin and promote a lifetime of sun-conscious habits. Remember, a little extra effort today can have a profound impact on your child’s long-term health and well-being.

If you’re travelling or going abroad with children this year, read our advice in What to take with you when you travel with children to make sure you have everything you need.

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday from all of us at Childhealthy.

Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child, please contact your doctor for advice. 


NHS – Sunscreen and Sun Safety

Kidshealth – Sun Safety


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