Children's Hospital Colorado

Sunscreen Tips for Babies and Toddlers

A woman puts sunscreen on a young girl with light brown hair and wearing a pink tank top at a park.

Here's what you need to know to protect your infants and toddlers from sun damage, from the dermatology experts at Children's Hospital Colorado:

2 months

  • Sunburns during childhood dangerously increase the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
  • It is much easier for infants and young children to get sunburned than adults. Please contact your healthcare provider if your child becomes severely sunburned with blisters.
  • Be sure to keep your child out of the sun. Cover his/her body in clothing or light blankets, and always keep a hat on your child when he/she is outside.
  • Also, be sure to use a stroller or carriage with a hood, and avoid the sunniest part of the day, between 10 a.m. and 3 pm.

4 months

  • Remember, it’s extremely important to limit your child’s time in the sun, and try to plan activities for before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m. to avoid the sun’s most intense rays.
  • Have you had difficulty keeping your child out of the sun?
  • Also, don’t forget to cover your baby in clothing or blankets, put a hat on him/her, and use a covered stroller or carriage.

6 months

  • Your child is going to be mobile soon, it will be even more important to be careful to protect him/her from the sun.
  • You should start using sunscreen now. Be sure to apply the sunscreen to all exposed skin (including scalp and ears) at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun, and use sunscreen that is at least SPF 15. The first time you use the sunscreen watch to see if a rash occurs. Rashes occur rarely, but if one does, contact your healthcare provider who can help you find a more appropriate sunscreen for you child.
  • Also, don’t forget to use the other sun protection methods of covering you baby with clothes or blankets, using hats, limiting time in the sun, and avoiding the sun in the middle of the day. Sunscreen should be used in addition to these other methods, not in place of them.
  • If your child has a daycare provider, you should discuss sun protection with them. You may want to apply sunscreen to your child before you drop them off, if you are not sure that they will apply it.

12 months

  • Remember, suntanned skin is not a sign of good health. It is a sign of skin damage.
  • Keep your child’s skin protected by dressing him/her in lightweight, tightly woven clothing that covers his/her arms and legs.
  • Have you had any difficulty using sunscreen? You should always carry it in your diaper bag. 
  • Also, remember to put a hat on your child, limit time in the sun, and avoid the sun in the middle of the day.

18 months

  • Remember that the sun is most intense between 10am and 3pm even if it’s not hot outside, and even on cloudy day. How much time is your child spending outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.?
  • Be sure to always find shady places for your child to rest or play when outside.
  • Keep using a combination of clothing, hats and sunscreen to protect your child’s skin, and limit their time in the sun.

24 months

  • Are you still using sunscreen? Are you having trouble keeping a hat on him/her? How much time is he/she spending outside each day?
  • You should start telling your child that it’s important not to let the sun hurt his/her skin. The good habits you are starting now will keep you child healthy his/her whole life.

36 months

  • Make sunscreen use a daily habit like brushing teeth. Put sunscreen on your child every morning before he/she goes out to play or to daycare. Your child can start practicing putting sunscreen on him/herself, but you should watch to make sure they do a good job.
  • Provide your child with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, SPF 15+ sunscreen and lip balm in his/her backpack.
  • Remind your child to use his/her sun safety gear everyday. Talk to you child about how important it is to protect his/her skin from tanning and sunburn.

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