WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
The Associated Press has identified the boy as Aylan Kurdi, and now his name is a trending topic on Twitter.
The photo was used on the front pages of newspapers around the globe, from The Wall Street Journal to The Guardian.
People shared the photos online, including one in which he is lying facedown in the sand, leading to a debate over whether it was right to share such a graphic image.
"Some say the picture is too offensive to share online or print in our newspapers. But what I find offensive is that drowned children are washing up on our shorelines, when more could have been done to prevent their deaths," he wrote.
"It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child. But I care about these children as much as my own. Maybe if Europe's leaders did too, they would try to stem this ghastly spectacle," Bouckaert added.
Cartoonists also weighed in by interpreting the scene and sharing drawings in which the boy has angel wings or is being lifted up from the water by heavenly beings.