too-much-sunOne of the best parts of summer is glorious sunshine. Picture blue skies, fluffy clouds, your child shoveling sand on the beach into a bucket ... sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Just a word of caution: Youngsters are prone to sunburns, which can have serious repercussions later in life, up to and including skin cancer. Fortunately, you can take easy precautions to protect your preschooler from too much sun.

The first one? Use sunscreen! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the following recommendations for young children:

  • Use products with at least SPF 15, and UVA and UVB protection, when your child goes outdoors.
  • Apply 30 minutes before he or she goes outside, including tops of feet, ears, nose and lips.
  • Reapply during the day, especially after swimming, exercising or playing hard.

The site offers this reminder: “Keep in mind, sunscreen is not meant to allow kids to spend more time in the sun than they would otherwise. Try combining sunscreen with other options to prevent UV damage.”

Other tips include having your child play indoors during midday or extreme heat; if that isn’t possible, playing under shade, perhaps beneath a tree or tent. Another suggestion? Have your child wear a hat that shades the “face, scalp, ears and neck.” Baseball caps, while favorites of many children, don’t do the trick, but you can use them and then carefully apply sunscreen to neck and ears. Sunglasses protect the eyes—and can look really cool, besides. Ideally, sunglasses should block as close to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays as possible.

If your child starts to look pink, bring him or her inside—and remember that protection is still needed on cloudy days. Perhaps not quite as much, but it’s still important. offers a couple more tips. If your child is taking medication, ask the doctor if it causes increased sensitivity to sun. Some antibiotics, among other prescription medicines, can have that effect. Also, whenever you share a sun-safety rule with your child, let him or her see you follow that same rule.

Meanwhile, points out that some children are more vulnerable to sun sensitivity and damage than others, including:

  • Children with moles or whose parents have them
  • Very fair-skinned children
  • Children whose family has a history of skin cancer

Fun Ways to Teach Sun Safety

Children often respond well to messages presented in a fun way. Here are some options:

  • Alex the Alligator's Sun Safe Song: This is a kid-focused video that shares tips on sun safety, and there are also learning activities (coloring sheets, games and more) included.
  • Sun Safe Play Everyday!: In this cartoon, a boy named Guy and his dog Norman play outdoors in ways that are sun-safe. They sing a song and invite listeners to join in.
  • Play Safe in the Sun: Here is another short cartoon that demonstrates safe behavior in the sun, with characters named Sophie, Max and Felix (the last one is a dog).
  • Sun Days Fun Days: This Australian video takes children through an entire week, offering an important message on sun safety each day.

Looking to enrich your child’s learning and life? Horizon Education Centers provide affordable quality care, including educational and enrichment opportunities for children in the following Northeast Ohio locations.