Raising Sun Smart Children


We all know that Australian’s sun is dangerous. 2 out of 3 Australians are most likely to develop skin cancer by the time they’re 70 years old. Time is of the essence in raising our children to be sun smart!

Up until your child is the age of 13, they’re at high risk of receiving un-repairable damage to their skin as children’s skin is 30% thinner than that of an adults. So how can we help our children in prevention of sun damage?

Always be prepared. If you have something planned for the day, the ideal time is to do it early in the morning or early evening when the sun is not as strong. This includes all seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Look for options that have natural shade or shade sails.

Choose appropriate clothing when dressing for the day. Sleeved tops, hats and sunglasses are all great ways to prevent receiving sun burns and damaging skin. Don’t just rely on sunscreen alone.

Apply sunscreen. It takes sunscreen 20 minutes after being applied to skin to work effectively.  Allow yourself and children 20 minutes after applying sunscreen before going outside. Reapply every 3 hours and even more so if your child is sweating, swimming or doing sport.  Only purchase Sunscreen with a minimum of SPF30 and make sure it hasn’t expired.

Sometimes the feeling of sunscreen on children’s skin makes them feel uncomfortable. If your child doesn’t like the cold feeling, switch to an alcohol free sunscreen. Some also don’t like the ‘slimy’ feeling. This can be alleviated by choosing a solid sunscreen stick instead.

Some children just don’t like to  do the bothersome task of applying sunscreen. Make things fun like treating the routine like face painting. Perhaps you could do it for them or they could do it themselves! Just don’t forget to rub it all in afterwards. Zinc is another great alternative. It protects the highly sensitive parts on face such as nose and around the eyes. Instead of boring old white zinc, let your children choose their favourite colours!

It is important to remember that children emulate their parents. By role modelling good sun safety practices around your children will help instill these strategies into their adult life.

Lastly check your child’s skin on a regular basis and if you have any concerns, contact your family doctor or visit a registered sun doctor to check over concerns.