Just like brushing teeth and saying “please” and “thank you,” sun safety is a habit best formed in childhood. Parents and caregivers patiently praise good behavior with the hopes that when it’s time for the kids to find their independence, some of those habits will stick. By practicing healthy sun habits as a family, children will learn how to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.
What are healthy sun habits? Of course they include sunscreen, which should be put on when your family spends time outside. Put extra bottles in your car, backpack, or purse to make it easy to reapply. Because children have thinner skin, they will burn more easily than adults, so teach your children to give their skin a break by covering up with hats and long sleeves and finding shade. Just a few bad sunburns in childhood can increase the chance of skin cancer, so starting your kids off right with habits like these sets them up to be healthier adults.
To prepare children for a lifetime of healthy sun habits, read through the tips below, set the standard in your household, and be a good role model by following them yourself. When kids are encouraged to be sun safe, they are more likely to keep protecting their skin even when adults aren’t around.
Apply every time. Put sunscreen on yourself and your children for outdoor activities like sports practices, play dates, and going to the playground. Follow your pediatrician’s guidance on sun protection for babies younger than 6 months old.
Be prepared. Pack sunscreen with you so that you are ready to reapply as recommended.
More than just sunscreen. Get everyone in the shade, cover up with long-sleeved shirts and hats, put on some UV-blocking sunglasses, and take breaks by going inside when you can.
Find shade. If you’re planning a day out in a place without shade, bring an umbrella or a pop-up tent. The sun’s rays are the strongest between 11AM and 3PM, so it’s best to avoid the sun during the middle of the day.
Learn more about keeping the family safer under the sun this summer: https://www.preventchildinjury.org/toolkits/sun-safety