Your pregnancy and baby guide

Sun safety for children

Exposing babies and children 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.

Babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

All other children should have their skin protected from March to October in the UK.

Tips to keep you child safe in the sun

  • Encourage your child to play in the shade – for example, under trees – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • 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 higher and protects against UVA and UVB. Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.
  • 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 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, ears 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.
  • If your child is swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen of factor 15 or above. Sunscreen should be reapplied straight after you have been in water – even if it's "water resistant" – and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.

Find out more about summer safety for younger children

Sunlight and vitamin D

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin.

Because it's important to keep your child's skin safe in the sun, it's recommended all babies and young children aged under 4 years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D, in the form of vitamin drops.

Everyone over the age of 5 should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement from October to March.

Find out more about vitamin D for babies and young children

Media last reviewed: 17/08/2017

Media review due: 17/08/2020

Page last reviewed: 26/11/2018
Next review due: 26/11/2021