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Sun Care for Kids by Age

by | Jun 20, 2024

Sun Care for Kids by Age

From tiny tots to teens, KidsStreet has the scoop on protecting your kiddos from the sun throughout their lives!

Getting your child outside has many health benefits, including opportunities to be physically active, burn off extra energy, and reduce stress. Sunlight even improves mood through vitamin D synthesis.

But it’s important to practice sun safety while enjoying the great outdoors. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can have harmful effects such as sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancers.

KidsStreet is here to share sun care advice for all ages, and we break down UV safety by age group.

UV Safety for All Ages

The following tips are helpful for you and your children of all ages:

  • Use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 or higher for UV protection. Look for a sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Avoid sunscreens with dyes, fragrances, oxybenzone, PABA, parabens, phthalates, or spray applications.
  • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen – experts recommend enough to fill a one-ounce medicine cup for each application.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or each time your child comes out of the water.
  • Look for shaded areas to avoid the sun’s UV radiation, especially during peak hours (10am – 4pm).
  • Wear lightweight, long-sleeved rash guards with UV protection or tight thread weave.
  • Wear sunglasses that provide 99% UV protection.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your ears, face, and neck.

Researchers estimate that at least 25 percent, and possibly as much as 80 percent, of skin damage from the sun happens during childhood! Let’s take a look at how to protect their skin by age.

Tiny Tots Six Months and Younger

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding sun exposure and sunscreen products for little ones six months and younger. Infants have an immature skin barrier, which makes them more prone to sunburn and allergic reactions to sunscreens.

Your littlest ones should have:

  • Shaded areas to shield them from sun exposure.
  • Sun protective clothing like lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect their skin.
  • Sunglasses with UV protection and wide-brim hats.

If you find yourself in a situation where no shade is available for your little one, the AAP recommends applying a small amount of sunscreen to the exposed skin on the back of their hands, tops of their feet, and their face. Zinc oxide is best for sensitive skin. Be careful to avoid their eyes!

Bigger Tots to Tweens

Most young kids want to imitate your actions, so leading by example with good sun care is key. Teach healthy sun care habits early so they will likely stick with them throughout life.

This can also be an age where little ones have strong opinions and seek independence. Let them exercise independence by:

  • Picking out a sunscreen color or scent they like with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Applying sunscreen themselves in the amount that you provide.
  • Choosing a rash guard they like with a UV protection level you approve.
  • Choosing their UV protection sunglasses and sun hat.

Avoid spray sunscreen applications to prevent your child from inhaling the ingredients. If your child has very thin hair, try a gel sunscreen for the scalp.


Your teen is trying less to be like you and trying harder to be like and fit in with their friends. This can be challenging if their friends do not embrace healthy sun care.

Be honest with your teen about the dangers of tanning. Explain how wearing sunscreen and other sun protective measures don’t just prevent sunburn. Appeal to their vanity and explain that healthy sun care can prevent early wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancers.

More tips for teens:

  • Let them pick out a stylish rash guard, sunglasses, and sun hat. They’re more likely to wear them when you’re not around if they pick them out.
  • Help them select daily skin care products that include UV protection, like facial moisturizers and body lotions.
  • Consider a spray tan with UV protection. Reinforce that sunscreen is still required to prevent sun damage.

Instilling healthy sun care habits now can prevent long-term skin damage throughout your kiddo’s life.

Turn to KidsStreet Urgent Care

Concerned your child may have a severe sunburn? KidsStreet is here to help!

Register online to visit one of our kid-focused clinics. You and your kiddo can conveniently wait at home or in your vehicle. We’ll text you when it’s time to head to the clinic.

KidsStreet loves walk-ins and welcomes them every day! However, we recommend registering before your visit to reduce in-clinic wait times. Walk-ins join the same queue as those who register online.

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