Children's Sun Safety
This page was reviewed or revised on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 4:28 PM
Too much sun, especially as a child, can damage eyes and cause skin cancer later in life. Most exposure to the sun happens during the first 18 years of life.
Sunburns are not only painful, but dangerous for children.
- Can cause dehydration and fever
- One sunburn doubles the risk of melanoma
Reduce your child's exposure to the sun, especially when the UV index is 3 or higher.
Simple Sun Safety Tips
- Limit sun time, especially between 11 a.m.-3 p.m., when UV rays are strong.
- Keep children less than one year old out of direct sunlight, as much as possible.
- Use a covered stroller, cradle or sun umbrella.
- Dress your child in loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt and longer shorts or pants. Tightly-woven materials are best.
- Wide-brimmed hat will shade your child's ears, face, and neck.
- Apply an SPF 30 sunscreen to areas exposed to sun. Make sure it's "broad spectrum" (protects against UVA and UVB) and preferably "water resistant."
- If a child burns using a SPF 30 sunscreen, try a higher SPF.
- Do not apply sunscreen around a child’s eyes. It may sting and burn. Use UV-protective sunglasses.
- Do not apply regular sunscreen to a child's lips. Use an SPF 30 lip balm.
- If taking medicine, check with your child's health-care provider or pharmacist about the increased risk of sunburn.
- Make sun protection a habit. Set a good example by protecting yourself as well.
Combine these steps for the best protection.
Sunscreen does not give total protection. Use natural protection (i.e. shade, clothing, and hat) as the first choice.
Cooler in the Shade
Look for shade or create shaded areas for outdoor activities.
Teach your child to look for and use shade made by trees, buildings, and porches.
Even cloudy days can produce sunburns. Up to 80% of the harmful rays go through haze, light clouds and fog.
Ask your pharmacist for the best sunscreen for your child's skin type and needs.
- Always test sunscreen for allergic reaction. Apply a small amount to your child's arm. Check for any reaction (i.e. redness, itching, and/or swelling) up to 48 hours later.
- Apply a generous amount of sunscreen 20-30 minutes before your child goes outdoors.
- Ensure skin is dry before applying sunscreen or it will not absorb.
- Do not forget the upper back, tips of the ears, nose and neck.
Re-apply sunscreen as directed or after sweating, water sports, or towelling off. If your child swims, use a water-resistant sunscreen.
Special Considerations for Babies
Babies have thin skin and burn easily. Avoid sun exposure for babies less than one year old. If this is not an option, talk with your child's health-care provider about sunscreen.
If a baby under one year old gets a sunburn call your health-care provider immediately. Severe sunburn is an emergency in babies.
Children's Sun Safety Resources:
Be Sun Safe Colouring Page
Sun Safety Tips for Parents
Sun Safety for Childcare Providers & Educators
Sun Safety Using Ultraviolet Beads