At what age should children apply sunscreen by themselves?

Article kindly reproduced with permission from Cancer Council ACT

Advice received from the National Health and Medical Research Council tells us that children who are able to apply their own sunscreen (under supervision) should be encouraged to do so. This fosters independence and responsibility.

Many of Canberra early childhood services with SunSmart status would have children as young as 3 years old applying their own sunscreen each day- this is a good thing, of course supervision and perhaps some assistance may still be required to be sure the application is effective.

Cancer Council encourage services to set up a sunscreen station to allow children to practice this important life skill (see video link below).  (Editor’s note: Of course you could set up something similar at home too!)

For those unable to apply sunscreen, it is recommended that if a staff member is doing ‘mass sunscreen applying’ they should wash their hands before and after the task. They can use a different tissue for each child when applying the sunscreen, however, unless the child (or the carer) has a visible skin disease or a cold/virus, it is not really an infection-control issue. If a child does have a visible skin disease e.g. eczema or open skin wound, or a cold/virus, their sunscreen should be applied last using gloves or a tissue.

Enjoy your SunSmart Spring.

How to make a sunscreen station