SunSmart tips for children
Because UV radiation can’t be seen or felt, we can’t always rely on our senses. Don’t just wait for a hot and sunny day to check the sun protection times from the weather section of the newspaper, Bureau of Meteorology website or via the SunSmart website and app.
Daily sun protection times are issued whenever UV levels reach 3 or above.
If you’re outside during these sun protection times, you can follow these tips to make sure you are well protected.
If your skin is exposed, UV can reach it. Wear protective clothing that is loose fitting and cool.
- Tops with sleeves and collars
- Shorts or skirts that are knee-length or longer are best
- If a child is wearing a singlet top or dress, throw over a t-shirt or shirt before outdoor play
- Darker colours can absorb more UV, so aim for bright colours
Apply a generous amount of SPF 30+, water resistant sunscreen onto exposed skin about 20 minutes before going outdoors. Remember to reapply every two hours.
- Choose a sunscreen that suits your skin type and is easy to apply
- Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or water play
- When trying a new sunscreen on children, test it on a small patch of skin first to make sure it is suitable. The Australasian College of Dermatologists recommends the use of a sunscreen at any age when there is unavoidable exposure to the sun and states sunscreen is safe to use on babies.
- From about the age of three, children can practice applying sunscreen to develop this skill. Set up a sunscreen station with a mirror so children can apply their sunscreen in front of the mirror and then wipe their hands.
- Children learn best from what they see adults doing so remember to practice what you preach.
A good sun protective hat shades the head, face, eyes, ears and neck. Bucket, wide-brimmed or legionnaire hats are best. Baseball caps do not offer enough protection for the cheeks, ears and neck.
- For babies, choose a fabric that will crumple easily when they put their head down.
- For younger children, choose a hat size that is proportional to the size of the child’s head and provides shade across the face and neck areas.
- For older children, a bucket hat should have a deep crown and angled brim of at least 6cm. A wide brimmed hat should have a brim that is at least 7.5cm. The side flap and front peak of a legionnaire hat should meet to protect the side of the face.
- Hats that can be adjusted at the crown are best. If the hat is secured with a long strap and toggle, ensure it has a safety snap, place the strap at the back of the head or trim the length so it doesn’t become a choking hazard.
Many children do not like to wear hats but it’s important to persist until it becomes part of their outside routine. Remember, children are more likely to wear their hat if you do too.
Always be sure to keep babies under 12 months well protected and in the shade during the sun protection times.
Even in the shade, UV can reflect from surfaces such as water, sand, glass, brick and concrete, so still use a hat, clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses.
Choose play spaces with shade or take shade some with you.
- The shade moves with the sun, so be prepared to move around to follow the shade.
- If using natural shade from a tree, look for dense foliage with a dark, shady patch.
- Take portable shade, such as an umbrella.
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