Childhood and adolescence are critical periods during which exposure to Uv radiation is more likely to contribute to skin cancer in later life.

Parents have an important role to ensure their children establish healthy sun protection habits during the early years. Research into the effectiveness of role modelling shows us that adopting sun protective behaviours yourself means your children will be more likely to do the same.

Should I keep my baby out of the sun completely?

If your baby is younger than six months, it's best to keep him out of direct sunlight altogether, especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is strongest. If he is older and crawling, you can let him play outside. If at all possible, try to keep him in the shade. 

If you can’t avoid being in the sunshine, make sure your baby is well protected. Dress him in a hat, loose, cotton clothes, and put sunscreen on exposed areas of skin. 

It's best not to let your baby go outside without sun protection from the middle of April to the end of September, even in the UK. If summer arrives early, or lasts into autumn, you'll need to follow the same sun protection rules as in the summer. Getting your child into the habit of sun protection will help keep his skin healthy as he grows up.

What sort of sunscreen should I use on my baby?

Choose creams or sprays for babies, as these are specially formulated for young skin and are safe to use from six months of age. Use a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 against UVB rays. 

Also, make sure you buy a broad-spectrum brand that offers both UVA and UVB protection. High UVA protection is shown on the packaging. Look out for a four-star or five-star rating within a UVA circle logo. 

Apply sunscreen liberally to any area of your baby's skin that isn’t covered up by clothes or a hat. Remember to include his hands and feet, and the back of his neck and ears. You'll need a plum-sized dollop of sunscreen, probably far more than you'd expect. It's best to pat it on rather than rub it in. If you can, put sunscreen on your baby half an hour before he goes outdoors. 

Reapply the sunscreen at least every couple of hours and after he has played in water, even if the sunscreen is waterproof. Some water-resistant products may only protect your baby’s skin for up to 40 minutes of water play, while others may protect for up to 80 minutes.

Some brands make tinted sun creams, so you can see if you have missed a bit. Try to find a sunscreen product that you find quick and easy to use. That way, you'll be more likely to use it. 

Make sure you use up your sunscreen before the expiry date, or within the time recommended on the label, once the sunscreen has been opened. The active ingredients may not work so well after a while. 

If your baby has eczama or particularly sensitive skin, check the ingredients list for anything you know is likely to cause irritation or an allergic reaction

Test the sun cream on a small area of his skin first. Once you're happy that the sunscreen is all right for you child, it's still best to apply his usual emollient or steroid cream first, and then sunscreen 30 minutes later.

If you want to make sun protection more fun for your baby, put some sunscreen carefully on his face and then use some more to draw warrior stripes.

What clothes are best for protecting my baby from the sun?

Your baby should wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade his face, neck and ears. Baseball hats may look cool, but they leave his sensitive neck and ears exposed. 

Instead, choose a foreign legion-style hat with a brim at the front and a cloth flap at the back that covers his ears and neck. Otherwise, go for a hat with a wide brim all the way round.

It's never too early to start getting your baby used to wearing a hat. You may find that holding the hat firmly on for a few seconds until his attention is diverted stops the endless, "look I can pull off my hat" game! Or you could find a hat with an elasticated or Velcro strap that tucks under his chin to keep it in place.

Lightweight but closely woven clothing, such as cotton, offers the best protection. Tops that cover your baby's shoulders are essential in the sun, particularly on hot days. Shoulders are particularly vulnerable and burn quickly. Pop a loose pair of cool cotton trousers on your baby, too. 

If you go to the seaside, make sure your baby wears a T-shirt while he’s splashing in the water. Have a dry T-shirt ready for him to wear when he's finished his swim. Sun protection tops and suits made of Lycra, or a mix of Lycra and nylon, are very practical and can be picked up cheaply at supermarkets. These block more of the sun than a normal T-shirt. They can be worn in and out of the water, and also dry quickly.

Does my baby need to wear sunglasses?

Sunglasses for your baby may seem like a luxury, but they do protect his eyes from the sun. It’s a good idea to get your baby used to wearing them from the age of six months. 

Wraparound sunglasses offer even more protection as they shield your baby's eyes from direct sun coming from the side.

Sunglasses with an adjustable rubber or neoprene strap that fits comfortably around the back of your baby's head are more likely to stay on.

Try to get your baby used to wearing his glasses and keep the lenses clean. Put his glasses on when you put yours on. It’s best to wait until you’re outdoors before popping your baby’s sunglasses on, so his indoor world doesn't suddenly get alarmingly dark.

How can I keep my baby in the shade when we're out and about?

Along with covering up with a hat and clothes, staying in the shade is one of the best ways to protect your baby from the sun. Sunscreens offer added protection when you can't avoid your baby being in the sun.
Attach a canopy or parasol to your baby's pushchair or buggy. A canopy tends to offer more protection than a parasol, which needs checking and adjusting as you move in and out of the sun. Before you buy, make sure the canopy or parasol fits on to your buggy. Make sure that you can open and close your pushchair easily when it's attached.

You could look for an elasticated UV sun cover. This is made of dark, synthetic mesh and covers the whole seat area of the pushchair, which means your baby is totally protected. 

If you’re making a journey in the car, do make sure your car has a sunshade to protect your baby when he’s in his car seat. 

When you're on the beach or in the garden, a pop-up beach cabana shelter can be really useful. Cabanas are little tents for your baby, which fold away for easy carrying. As well as screening your baby from the sun, they come in handy as windbreaks, too. Pop a couple of toys inside, and they're ideal places for your baby to rest, play, and eat his lunch.

Cabanas come in baby or family sizes. The larger ones can also be great play tents, and make useful changing rooms, too.

If you stop at a cafe or restaurant for lunch with your baby, ideally head indoors. Otherwise choose somewhere with a shady canopy or table umbrella. If you’re picnicking, head for the trees and enjoy your picnic in the shade.



Sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. According to one US study, 54 percent of children become sunburned or tanned in their second summer, versus 22 percent in their first.

"Children should not be getting sunburned at any age, especially since there are a range of very effective sun protection methods that can used," said Perry Robins, MD, President, and The Skin Cancer Foundation. "Parents need to be extra vigilant about sun protection all the time."

Many parents don't know the best ways to protect their young children. Below are The Skin Cancer Foundation's recommendations.


  • 0-6 months: Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun. Their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. An infant's skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair and eyes and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun's damaging effects.
    • 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.
    • Take walks early in the morning before 10 AM or after 4 PM and use a stroller with a sun-protective cover.
    • Dress baby in lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs.
    • Choose a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet that protects the baby's face, neck, and ears. A baby who wears a hat during the first few months will get used to having it on.


  • 6-12 months: It's now safe to use sunscreen on babies.

    • Apply broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunscreen to areas left uncovered such as baby's hands. Many companies have tear-free formulas that won't sting baby's eyes.
    • If you are using a spray sunscreen, it should not be applied directly to the face; sprays should be misted into the hands, and then spread on the face.
    • Most importantly, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

Toddlers/Pre-School Age

  • Protecting toddlers from the sun requires a little more thought and effort. It is important to educate your child and caregivers.

    • Look for broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF 15 or higher. Water-resistant, spray-on sunscreens are a good choice for toddlers who won't sit still. Spray sunscreens should not be applied directly to the face; sprays should be misted into the hands, then spread on the face.
    • Make sure your child seeks the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. Check the outdoor area where your child plays to make sure there is adequate shade.
    • Make sure toddlers are covered. Long-sleeved, unbleached cotton clothing is cool and comfortable, while also highly protective. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) listing on the label offers extra security. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends clothing with a UPF of 30 or higher.
    • Don't forget hats and sunglasses. Choose a wide-brimmed hat that protects face, neck, and ears.