how to apply sunscreen for kids

How to Apply Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or Higher

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Time near the pool is staple for me and the kids each summer. But the sun’s harmful rays are a serious threat to our children’s delicate skin.

With this comprehensive guide, learn how to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before your child ventures outdoors, offering the best protection against these potential dangers.

The Importance of SPF

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, signifies the extent to which a sunscreen can protect the skin from UVB rays – the chief cause of sunburn and a significant contributor to skin cancer. An SPF of 30, when correctly applied, can block approximately 97% of these harmful rays.

Why Use SPF 30 or Higher for Children?

Children’s skin is more sensitive and more susceptible to sun damage. Sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher offer substantial protection and are highly recommended.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Your Child

It’s crucial to pick a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen that guards against both UVA and UVB rays. If swimming or sweating is on the cards, which it typically is during the summer, a water-resistant option is a must.

Sunscreen for Children with Sensitive Skin

For those with sensitive skin, consider sunscreens containing minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less irritating as they sit on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays.

How to Apply Sunscreen

When to Apply Sunscreen

Ensure you apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before your child steps outside. This allows sufficient time for the sunscreen to bind properly to the skin.

The Correct Quantity

Cover all exposed skin generously with sunscreen. Typically, an ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass, is the recommended quantity for children.

Steps for Application

  1. Begin by applying a thick layer of sunscreen on all exposed skin.
  2. Don’t miss often overlooked spots like the ears, the back of the neck, and the tops of feet and just above the knee.
  3. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly for even coverage.
  4. Protect your child’s lips with a lip balm that contains SPF.

Reapplying Sunscreen

Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating, as its effectiveness reduces over time.

I usually reapply if I notice they’ve been drying off with the towel frequently, too, between dips. 

Additional Sun Protection Measures

Complement the use of sunscreen with other protective measures. Encourage your child to stay in the shade during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and dress them in sun-protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

Understanding Sunscreen Labels

Knowing what terms on sunscreen labels mean can help you make the right choice:

  • Broad Spectrum: Protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Water Resistant: Remains effective for 40-80 minutes in water.
  • Expiration Date: The sunscreen’s effectiveness can’t be guaranteed beyond this date.

Sun Safety for Babies

Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sun exposure. If unavoidable, apply minimal sunscreen on exposed skin and cover the baby with lightweight clothing.

Educating Your Child About Sun Safety

Making sun safety a part of your child’s routine early on can lead to lifelong healthy habits. Involving them in the process and explaining the ‘why’ can go a long way in achieving this.

Health Impact of Sun Exposure

Unprotected sun exposure can lead to sunburn, premature skin aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Using sunscreen significantly mitigates these risks.

Year-Round Protection

UV rays can be harmful irrespective of the season or weather. Even on cool, cloudy days, they can cause skin damage. Therefore, making sunscreen application a year-round habit is vital for continual protection.

It’s also essential to remember that sun exposure is not limited to summer – it can occur in all seasons, whether from the winter sun reflecting off the snow or the harsh midday sun during summer.


The importance of sun protection for your child cannot be overstated. Knowing how to select and correctly apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher will arm you with the tools needed to safeguard your child’s skin whenever they are outdoors.

It may take a little extra effort and time, but the peace of mind and the skin protection it provides are unquestionably worth it.

About the Author


Hi there! I'm Jason, the proud dad behind Bearbino. This site was created out of my love for my children and dedication as their father to ensure their safety and well-being as best as I can. I'm thrilled to share with you these guides, resources, and tips that will hopefully help you keep your family and home safe, secure, and filled with fun.

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