The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer, sunburn, premature ageing and eye damage.
UV damage in childhood greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancers.
Sunlight is also very important in healthy eye development, to reduce the incidence of childhood
. Children are recommended to have 2-3 hours of outdoor safe sunlight play every day.
Teaching children how to be SunSmart from a young age with good sun protection habits and through role modelling is very important.
Babies and infants under 12 months of age have very sensitive skin and should always be kept out of direct sunlight.
Active outdoor play is important for everyone's health and for your child's development, so follow the 5 Sun Smart steps:
- Slip on clothing – use tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Cotton clothing is the coolest.
- Slop on sunscreen – generously apply age appropriate SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply every two hours and after playing in water. Regular use of chemical sunscreens on babies under six months of age is not recommended. Supervise children applying their own sunscreen from about three years of age to practise for pre-school and school.
- Slap on a hat – choose a hat that will shade the head, face, eyes, ears and neck. A hat with a wide brim is best. Baseball hats do not provide enough protection from the sun.
- Seek shade – shade offers great protection for all ages especially for babies and infants under 12 months of age. Trees that provide a solid patch of shade are the best types of natural shade. Carry a beach umbrella or shade tent in case there is no other shade available. Shade covers for the car's side windows are also recommended.
- Slide on age appropriate sunglasses - these should meet Australian Standards (AS/NZS1067:2003). Toy sunglasses do not meet Australian Standards and are meant for play-time not sun-time.
UV radiation levels are highest between about 9 am and 4 pm, depending on where you are in Australia and the time of year.
In summer, it's best to make trips to the playground, the park or the beach in the early morning and late afternoon.