Skin cancer isn't something you should start to worry about at a certain age -- even the very young must be diligent against the risk of sunburns. With just a few bad sunburns under his or her belt, a child younger than age 18 is at double the risk of melanoma later in life [source: Lerche Davis]. To minimize the threat of sunburn, children should always wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 [source: WebMD]. Sunscreen should be put on about half an hour before the child goes outside and reapplied regularly, even if the product claims to be waterproof. No child, fair-skinned or dark-skinned, should be exempt from this rule.
In addition to lathering on the sunscreen, parents can limit their kids' exposure to the sun in other ways. First off, stay inside or in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are at their strongest. When in the sun, wear protective clothing; a T-shirt in any color other than white will provide a safeguard. You may also want to invest in protective swimwear, such as wetsuits that cover the elbows and knees. And don't forget the accessories: Brimmed hats and sunglasses play an important role in shielding your young one from the sun.