Whether you’re enjoying the sunshine at  home, on a day out or away on holiday, taking care that your child is safe in the sun is every parent’s top priority.  Soft, sensitive skin can easily burn, so we’ve put together a guide to sun safety for your child from birth to pre-school….

Babies 0-6 months

  1. Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. An infant’s skin possesses very little melanin, the pigment that gives colour to skin, hair and eyes and provides some natural sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.
  2. Use removable mesh window shields to keep direct sunlight from coming in through the windows of your car or invest in UV window film, which can screen almost 100 percent of ultraviolet radiation without reducing visibility.
  3. Take walks early in the morning before 10 AM or after 4 PM and use a sun-protective cover on your pram or pushchair.
  4. Make sure your child wears a sun hat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun.

Babies 6-12 months

  1. Older infants should also be kept out of the sun as much as possible, particularly in the summer when the sun is at its strongest. If you go out when it’s hot, attach a parasol or sunshade to your baby’s pushchair to keep them out of direct sunlight.
  2. Apply a high factor sunscreen to your baby’s skin. Many brands produce sunscreen specifically for babies and young children with a sun protection factor (SPF) as high as 50 plus. Apply the suncream regularly, particularly if your child is in and out of the sea or paddling pool.
  3. Sunscreen takes a while to soak in and become effective so must be applied 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  4. Again, a  sun hat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, is a good idea to protect their head and neck from the sun.

Toddlers/Pre-School Age

  1. Once your little one is walking about, sun protection takes a bit more thought and effort.
  2. Make sure your child wears a sunhat with a wide brim or a long flap at the back, to protect their head and neck from the sun.
  3. On the beach or when playing outdoors, look at sun protection clothing, there are some great, comfortable options out there.
  4. Where possible, keep your child out of the sun and in the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. Check the outdoor areas where your child plays to make sure there is adequate shade.
  5. As with younger babies, take the time to apply suncream carefully and before going into the sun.  Bear in mind that even waterproof suncreams need to be reapplied regularly.

How to apply sun screen

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.

Read the sun safety Q&A

Keeping cool!

The sun can have a direct effect on your baby’s skin, but it’s also important to be aware of overheating and dehydration too – here are some tips to keep your little ones cool…

Water works!

Babies and children love the water, so make the most of it!  For smaller ones, they can play with a bowl of water and some bath toys, whilst older children love to splash around in a paddling pool.  It goes without saying that when playing with water, there should be an adult present at all times.

Keep it loose!

Loose clothing allows air to circulate around the body and keeps children cooler, so stick to loose, cool clothing.

Open windows, close blinds

Open all windows on the same floor to create a blow-through and pull curtain two thirds of the way across to block out hot sun but still allow the breeze through.  Open your loft hatch if you have one to allow heat to escape up through the roof and open your windows and curtains at night if it’s safe.  You’ll need to make sure that any open windows are out of reach of young children, especially those who like to climb!

Travel times

If your car doesn’t have air conditioning, try to travel in the early morning or at night – we all have memories of being stuck in traffic jams and feeling like we might melt! Cars are heat traps, so you should never leave your baby or toddler in the car even for a short period.

Ice, ice baby!

Frozen bottles of water or bowls of ice in front of an electric fan will circulate cool air around the room rather than just moving hot air around.  Also bowls of ice and water in the house can help to cool the air through evaporation.