How to be a SunSmart family

1. Teach children when to use sun protection

Don’t just wait for hot or sunny days to use sun protection. UV can damage your skin on cool and cloudy days too.

Check the free SunSmart app or SunSmart website each day for the recommended sun protection times. The sun protection times are a forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology for the time of day UV levels are expected to reach 3 or higher. At these levels, sun protection is recommended for all skin types. In Victoria, UV levels regularly reach 3 or higher from mid-August to the end of April.

Whenever UV levels are 3 or higher, remember to SLIP on covering clothing, SLOP on SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen, SLAP on a broad-brim hat, SEEK shade and SLIDE on some sunglasses to help protect skin and eyes and reduce future skin cancer risk.

Sun protection should not only be used during terms one and four. Check your child’s school or pre-school is using sun protection beyond these two terms. Our Baby Sid sun protection poster can be a fun way of keeping tabs on sun protection times.

Find out more about UV levels and sun protection times.

2. Be a SunSmart role model

Parents and carers can be powerful role models. When you use sun protection such as hats, shade, sunscreen and clothing, not only is it protecting you but it also means your children are more likely to use them too.

Research shows that healthy habits learned in the younger years are more likely to continue than ones acquired in adulthood. A study also found that teenagers who used sunscreen generally had parents who insisted on sunscreen use when those teenagers were children.

3. Develop independent sun protection skills

Early childhood experts advise that children usually have a natural drive to be independent. This is a healthy part of normal child development allowing them to gradually learn more tasks.

Parents and carers can help young children become independent by encouraging them to take responsibility for themselves whenever possible. When children practice self-help skills, they practice their large and small motor skills, gain confidence in their ability to try new things and build their self-esteem and pride in their independence.

Sun protection examples include:

  • Clothing choices: Help children feel they have some say in their clothing choices, e.g. 'You’ll be doing a lot of playing outside today. Would you like to wear the blue or green shirt? Do you think that top will help protect your skin from the sun?' You might also find our SunSmart clothing poster useful.
  • Hats: Wearing a sun hat should become a regular part of the outdoor routine. It’s important to ensure children can easily find and access their hat. Perhaps have a special basket or hook to store hats so children know where to grab them from and can do this automatically.
  • Sunscreen:
    • Set up a sunscreen station at home with a pump pack of sunscreen and a mirror. It may be near the door or on the bathroom bench.
    • Apply your sunscreen at the same time so children can watch how you do it and follow your example.
    • Make sunscreen application fun and encourage children to put a dot of sunscreen on each cheek, nose and their chin and carefully rub it in (avoiding the eye area). They can add squiggles of sunscreen to any part of their arms and legs not covered with clothing. Our Applying sunscreen flyer has more useful tips.
  • Shady play spaces: Encourage children to find shady spots outside. They can move their activities to follow the shade. Perhaps they can help you create shady play spaces by laying a blanket under the tree, choosing a good spot for the shade umbrella or helping to drape thick fabric such as canvas over the clothes-line for a built-in shade tent.

Tips for parents and carers in using the five forms of sun protection.