How to Protect a Toddler from the Sun

Two Methods:Sunscreen ProtectionClothing Protection

Childhood exposure to the sun causes skin damage and increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. However, you can't completely avoid the sun or keep your child indoors all the time. Establish a sun safety routine to protect your toddler and minimize effects and risks associated with sun damage.

Method 1
Sunscreen Protection

  1. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 1
    Choose sunscreen protection that offers full-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
    • UVB rays tan the skin and can prompt a sunburn. Skin cancer can result from exposure to UVB rays.
    • UVA rays, on the other hand, penetrate deeper than UVB rays. UVA rays damage elastin and collagen in the skin, making wrinkles and sunspots appear. These rays also affect the appearance of skin, making it appear to have sag and have a leathery texture.
  2. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 2
    Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) that will protect your toddler from the sun.
    • Choose at least SPF 15 or more if your child burns easily, but you may not need more than SPF 30. Higher SPFs offer a small amount of added sunscreen protection for your toddler but can expose your child to a higher amount of chemicals contained in the product.
    • Sunscreen marketed as children's versions are usually no different than those that are marketed for adults.
  3. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 3
    Use more sunscreen for your toddler than you think you need. Many people skimp, but for full sunscreen protection, apply sunscreen generously.
    • Use about 1/2 ounce of sunscreen, about enough to fill your toddler's palm, each time you apply sunscreen.
  4. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 4
    Apply sunscreen protection on your toddler with care. Watch for often-missed areas such as hands, neck, tops of feet, ears and the back of their legs.
    • Apply a lip balm with SPF protection for your toddler's lips.
  5. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 5
    Protect your toddler from the sun by re-applying sunscreen often--about every two hours.
    • Apply the first layer of sunscreen about 30 minutes before you plan to be outside so the lotion can soak into your child's skin.
    • Apply sunscreen more often if your child is playing in water or sweating, even if the sunscreen claims to be water- or sweat-proof. Reapply after your child is towel-dried.
  6. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 6
    Stay out of the sun when rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you can't avoid going outside during these times, try to spend time in the shade when possible.

Method 2
Clothing Protection

  1. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 7
    Choose clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) in the fabric for better sun protection for your toddler. UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that impacts skin through clothing.
    • Clothing can be marketed as sun-protective when they have a UPF of at least 50. Sun-protective clothing can lose its effectiveness through repeated wash and wear, or if it's stretched or damp. Some laundry additives contain sunscreen and can increase UPF.
    • Dark colors and polyester clothing are best because they reflect UV radiation, while white clothing absorbs UV rays. Regardless of what clothing is worn, apply sunscreen on your toddler's skin underneath her clothing to offer protection from the sun.
  2. Image titled Protect a Toddler from the Sun Step 8
    Add accessories to your child's ensemble to protect your toddler from the sun.
    • Use a broad-brimmed hat to protect your child's scalp, face and ears.
    • Sunglasses with UV protection can protect your toddler's eyes.


  • Follow your sun-protection plan even on days when the weather is overcast, as UV rays can penetrate clouds.

Article Info

Categories: Toddler Health | Sun and Sunless Tanning