Summer Holidays: Child Health Tips for Sun Protection and Hydration

As summer holidays approach, ensuring our children are protected from the harsh sun and adequately hydrated becomes paramount. With this in mind, here are some essential tips to keep your little ones safe and healthy during these warm months.

Sun Protection: Shielding from Harmful Rays

  1. Use Sunscreen Properly: Sunscreen is a child’s first line of defence against the harmful effects of UV rays. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it generously on all exposed skin, including ears, backs of knees, and the tops of feet, at least 30 minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

  2. Wear Protective Clothing: Dress your children in lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers made from tightly woven fabric. Opt for dark colours which offer better UV protection. A wide-brimmed hat can also shield their face, ears, and neck from the sun.

  3. Seek Shade: Encourage playing in shaded areas, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. Utilise umbrellas or pop-up tents if natural shade isn’t available.

  4. Use Sunglasses: Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. Wrap-around sunglasses are best as they block rays that come in from the side.

Hydration: Keeping Fluid Levels Topped Up

  1. Encourage Regular Fluid Intake: Children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because they have higher water requirements in relation to their body weight. Encourage them to drink water regularly, not just when they are thirsty. Water is the best choice; however, on particularly active days, a diluted juice or a sports drink can also help replace lost electrolytes.

  2. Make Hydration Fun: Offer fluids in a colourful water bottle that they can carry around or provide ice lollies made from fruit juice as a hydrating treat. You can also involve them in choosing their drinks, perhaps picking out flavours of electrolyte drinks or making infused water with fruits like strawberries or cucumbers.

  3. Recognise Signs of Dehydration: Teach your children to recognise the early signs of dehydration—thirst, dry lips and mouth, decreased urine output, and urine that is darker than usual. If any of these signs appear, it’s crucial to increase fluid intake immediately.

  4. Monitor Fluid Intake During Activities: During activities, make sure your child takes breaks to hydrate. A good rule is to have them take a drink every 20 minutes or so, especially if they are engaged in vigorous activities such as running, playing football, or swimming.

Additional Tips for Overall Safety

  • Apply Insect Repellent: Summer also brings bugs; using an appropriate insect repellent can protect your child from bites.
  • First Aid Kit: Always have a basic first aid kit handy for any minor injuries or irritations.
  • Monitor the Heat: Be aware of the heat index and limit outdoor play during the hottest parts of the day.

By adhering to these guidelines for sun protection and hydration, you can ensure your children enjoy a fun, safe, and healthy summer holiday. Encouraging these habits not only promotes their health during the summer but helps instil lifelong practices for wellbeing.


Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if your child is swimming or sweating a lot. Even water-resistant sunscreens can wear off, so it’s important to reapply immediately after water activities or if your child has been toweling off.

To make hydration more appealing, try adding slices of fruits like lemon, lime, or orange to water for a burst of natural flavour. Offering a variety of chilled herbal teas can also be a refreshing alternative. For a fun activity, involve children in making their own flavoured ice cubes or fruit popsicles, which are especially appealing during hot weather.

Opt for loose, lightweight, and light-coloured clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Fabrics rated with UV protection factor (UPF) offer additional safety by blocking out more UV rays. A wide-brimmed hat is also essential as it provides shade and protects the face, ears, and neck.