Kids playing in field for with mother ensuring sun safety.

Slip, Slop, Slap, Slide, Shade: sun safety tips for kids’ skin


July 11, 2020

Protecting the skin from damaging sun rays starts in childhood. Here are some sun safety tips for kids.


It’s never too early to start using sun safety tips, especially when it means preventing skin cancer says a pediatric dermatologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Sharon Albers, M.D., assistant professor of Dermatology and director, Pediatric Dermatology, said skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and the number of cases continues to increase.

“Damage from sun exposure builds up over time,” Albers said. “Most skin cancers are caused by too much UV ray exposure and there’s a lot that parents can do to protect their children.

“And no matter the skin pigmentation – sun protection is vital.”

Albers offers the following sun protection tips:

  • Use SPF products of at least 30.
  • Apply sun protection at least 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Reapply every 2 hours, no matter what the label states.

“We recommend that infants, age 6 months and younger, be kept out of the sun and wear protective clothing,” said Albers. “It is not necessary to use any sunscreen or sunblock because they should not be exposed to the sun at all.

“For those children older than 6 months, parents need to apply sunscreen or sunblock a good 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. It takes sunscreen at least 30 minutes to bind and become effective.

“It’s not just about applying sunscreen or using sunblock,” she said. “People need to wear hats, long sleeve rash guards and swim tights. It’s also a matter of avoiding being out in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the height of ultraviolet ray exposure.”

Sunscreens and blocks work best when combined with other protective options for ultimate sun safety.

Albers said the simple slogan — Slip, Slop, Slap — can be an easy reminder of the steps to take for sun protection.

Slip into clothing to cover the skin, slop on sunscreen or sunblock and slap on a brimmed hat to protect the face. For additional protection, experts added two additional steps: “Slide” on sunglasses and “Shade” from the sun.

Albers said sunscreens come in a variety of applications and that the best one is “the one that you like and that you will use.”

Vanderbilt’s Children’s After-Hours Clinics offer the convenience of a walk-in clinic with care provided by a board-certified pediatrician from Children’s Hospital. No appointment is necessary, but we recommend calling your pediatrician first. Learn more about services and find locations for Children’s Hospital After-Hours Clinic here.