Baby in the sun, but how do you protect him?

Of course you have to expose (very young) children (up to three years) as little as possible to the sun. But prevention is often not the case. In the spring and summer we are often outside and your child too. After all, the sun is an indispensable source of energy and works wonders for our mood. Yet in the sun? Then ensure the right protection!

Be extra careful

The moisture content of a baby's skin is usually somewhat higher than with an adult. His sweat glands are not fully developed yet and his skin is thinner. This makes a baby's skin more vulnerable and more sensitive to irritations from outside than those of an adult. Also more sensitive to the sun. The skin of your child is only able to protect himself from the sun for only five to ten minutes. Each parent is responsible for the sun protection of his or her child. Because of the vulnerability of the child's skin, extra caution in children is very sensible.

Sun: good and bad

The sun is healthy because under the influence of sunlight we produce vitamin D (good for, among other things, bone building), it makes us happy and it gives us energy, but long and often lying in the sun, there are risks. This applies to adults, but for babies and small children these risks are even greater. Too much UV radiation at a young age can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer later in life. Research has shown that those who have been burned a few times during their childhood, are more likely to develop skin cancer later on. Especially the risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Skin cancer in the Netherlands

Every year, approximately 73,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. In the national cancer registry, when it comes to skin cancer, only the invasive tumors are included, mainly melanomas and squamous cell carcinomas. It is estimated that about 20,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, which are considered less malignant because they will not spread. Of the more than 38,000 people who die each year from cancer, more than 600 people with skin cancer.

What is melanoma?

A melanoma is a form of skin cancer. In the Netherlands, melanoma is detected per year at approximately 2,850 people. Melanoma occurs at all ages, but usually in people aged 30-60 years. Melanomas are slightly more common in women than in men. In women it usually occurs on the trunk or legs, in men especially on the trunk and in the head / neck area. Nowadays, melanoma is diagnosed at an early stage in most people.

The skin

The skin consists of 3 layers:

  • epidermis (upper layer)
  • dermis (middle layer)
  • subcutaneous connective tissue (lower layer)

The basal cells and the squamous cells are in the epidermis. The basal cells are at the bottom, the squamous cells are more on the outside. There are also pigment cells (melanocytes) in the epidermis.


A melanoma is a tumor that originates from pigment cells in the skin. A melanoma arises from a mole or from pigment cells in a 'gift' skin. Sometimes a melanoma occurs in:

  • mucous membrane of an organ
  • mucous membrane of the eyelids
  • the eye

Melanoma cells grow relatively quickly and can spread at an early stage via the lymph or blood. When spread via the lymph vessels, metastases can develop in the nearest (regional) lymph nodes.
When spread through the blood, metastases can occur elsewhere in the body in:

  • lungs
  • liver
  • brain
  • in a different place on the skin

Beyond just lubricating

Protecting your child from the sun, goes beyond just smearing with a good sunscreen with a (high) protection factor. Better, of course, keeping your child completely out of the sun. Put him in the shade with a hat or a cap.
Also make sure that your child drinks enough in warm weather. Because his sweat glands are not yet fully developed, the heat discharge can not be properly controlled.
You do well to avoid the sun altogether between 12.00 and 15.00 and go inside. The intensity of the sun's rays is then the strongest and nothing has been washed against this. Even shadow is not recommended during these hours.


It is best to protect your child's eyes with good children's sunglasses that stop UV-A and UV-B rays. (Note the CE mark). Never use a children's sunglasses; they offer no protection and because of the dark glasses, his pupils are enlarged and this can be harmful to his eyes. There are special sun glasses with UV protection for small children with adjustable and stretchable Velcro closure.

Extra protection vulnerable parts

Give extra attention to the vulnerable spots, such as shoulders, neck, nose and ears. These are the body parts that burn first and therefore need extra protection. Do not be too frugal with the dosage. A thin layer is not enough. The promised protection can only be achieved with generous use.
Research by the Dutch Cancer Society into the sun and protective behavior of the Dutch shows that we are generally aware of the harmful effects of the sun. Yet this often does not lead to sufficient protection. On the beach there is often a lot of lubrication, but in everyday situations we appear to be less alert. Children on the back of the bike or playing in the garden also need protection when the sun is shining!

Which factor in the sun?

A white skin burns without protection after 15 minutes. With factor 10 you can sit in the sun for 150 minutes (15 minutes times factor 10 = 150 minutes). The protection factor is universal. The factor 15 of an A-brand offers the same protection as factor 15 of a B-brand. KWF Kankerbestrijding recommends that children be smeared with an anti-sunburn product with a minimum of 20, regardless of the skin type. For example, greasing with factor 50 is not necessary. Your child is allowed to get a little bit of radiation, as he builds up resistance.

When in the sun?

If you rub your baby well and take it outside outside the critical hours (12.00 - 15.00), your child can start in the sun from about six months, but slowly build up the solar time during the first few days. For children up to the age of 15, extra care must be taken in the sun. Lubricate your child half an hour before you go outside so that it can withdraw sufficiently. Once outside, you keep repeating this (how often depends on the protection factor and external factors such as swimming / not swimming, for example). If he has been in salt water *, you better wash it down with some fresh water. Dried salt crystals work in the sun as fire glass. Alternate the time in the sun with some cooling time in the shade.
* Always use a sun cream that is water resistant.

Yet burned

Combustion means damage to skin cells. Children are still in full growth and therefore the skin has little time to repair damaged cells. Lubricate your child after a day of sun, with a cooling after-sun, even if your child is not burnt, this is recommended. If he suffers from heat dissipation, you can cool his skin with a wet washcloth. Smearing the skin with cucumber or yogurt can also soften the skin.

Wide clothes

Dry the skin gently with a soft cloth and pull it nice loose clothes. You can possibly ease the pain with a paracetamol. Give the skin a chance to recover for a few days and keep your baby out of the sun all those days (not even in the shade!).
However, if your baby gets blisters, rash, sudden high fever or itching, consult your doctor.
Never pierce the blisters, this increases the chance of infection.

Did you know?

  • the sun power between twelve and three hours is the strongest?
  • you can also burn in the shade and have to rub yourself in there?
  • water and snow reflect the UV rays so you need better protection on the water or ski slopes?
  • UV rays can go through glass so your child in, for example, the car, also has to be smeared?
  • clouds only partially block the UV rays and therefore you can burn on a cloudy day
  • a T-shirt does not offer complete protection from the sun and can be compared with a factor of 10 sunscreen?
  • a wet T-shirt offers the same protection as a factor 2?
  • there is special UV-resistant clothing and that this protection is equal to a factor of 50?
  • sunlight is also reflected by grass, sand and white walls.
    toy sun glasses do not protect against the sun but that these glasses can even be harmful to the eyes of your child?
  • you can wear the best clothing from cotton because plastics do not absorb perspiration.
  • in warm weather your child needs extra moisture (to drink) and he will like an extra time in the bath?
  • when it is very warm, a towel over the child seat in the car, can be nice for your child?

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