Pregnancy and baby

Child safety in the sun

How do I keep my child safe in the sun? (9 to 30 months)

Media last reviewed: 09/04/2013

Next review due: 09/04/2015

Exposing your child to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life. Sunburn can also cause considerable pain and discomfort in the short term.

Tips to protect your child from sunburn

  • Encourage your child to play in the shade – for example, under trees – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.
  • Cover exposed parts of your child's skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above and is effective against UVA and UVB. Don't forget to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks and the tops of their feet. Reapply often throughout the day.
  • Be especially careful to protect your child's shoulders and the back of their neck when they're playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
  • Cover your child up in loose, baggy cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
  • Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
  • Protect your child's eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the "CE" mark (check the label or ask the manufacturer).
  • If your child is swimming, use a waterproof sunblock of factor 15 or above. Reapply after towelling.

Further information on toddler sun safety

How to apply sunscreen

An expert explains why it is important to protect your skin from sunburn to help avoid skin cancer. She also gives advice on how to apply sunscreen correctly and what to look out for when buying sun cream.

Media last reviewed: 26/05/2012

Next review due: 26/05/2014

Page last reviewed: 13/01/2014

Next review due: 13/01/2016

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Anna Watson said on 10 July 2013

Of course it is important for babies not to burn but we need the bigger health picture please. I hope you will consider the crucial role of the sun and Vit D in your review due next month.

With the return of Rickets and clinically low levels of vit D in the population, we should be promoting safe sun exposure to include the amount of time we need to uncover our skin so we can build up stores for the months Sept - April when there is no vit D made from the sun.

The use of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 inhibits more than 95% (Factor 15 inhibits around 98%) of vitamin D production in the skin. Even washing with soap hinders the absorption of Vit D so you may skip the soap on your arms and legs that evening.

Lots of evidence for several years that low vit D may be linked to a third of all cancers. Overall, the risk of skin cancer could be far lower than the increased risk of other cancers caused by low vit D. Surely we shouldn't wear sunglasses too often as much Vit D absorption is via the eyes.

Why not give the daily amount of time needed to expose the skin, the months where Vit D can be made, and please don't talk about using a high factor creams in the shade and then perhaps our rates of flu would drop too!

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Media last reviewed: 11/03/2013

Next review due: 11/03/2015