Sunscreen for Babies: Do Babies Need Sunscreen?
Is Sunscreen Really Necessary for Children?
Babies need sunscreen for the same reasons adults do: to protect their sensitive skin against sunburns, skin damage, and even skin cancer later in life. You should apply sunscreen liberally on your child's skin to ensure that it protects your child against UV rays, which can cause long-term damage like premature aging or even skin cancer later in life.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen for your baby, one that's pediatrician-recommended, non-greasy, and water-resistant (40 – 80 minutes) with an SPF of at least 15 and preferably 30. These requirements are essential because broad-spectrum coverage is crucial to protect against UVA rays, which can cause skin cancer and premature aging, and UVB rays, which can cause severe sunburn.
Water-resistant sunscreens stand up to the degrading effects of water and sweat for either 40 or 80 minutes, especially important if your baby will be in the water at the beach or swimming pool. You should reapply the sunscreen on your baby’s skin after this period to ensure maximum and continued protection.
Sunscreen for babies is readily available at any pharmacy or grocery store. Find one that has the following qualities that will not irritate your baby:
- No alcohol
- No insect repellents
- No chemicals, e.g. octisalate and oxybenzone
Opt for mineral sunscreen with natural, hypoallergenic sun blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of non-mineral sun blockers. While it is OK to use non-mineral sunscreens on adults and older children without skin health problems (e.g. psoriasis and eczema), dermatologists especially recommend mineral sunscreens for infants, as these are an effective broad-spectrum sunscreen.
As much as possible, opt for a lotion sunscreen instead of a sunscreen stick or spray. Sprays can cause lung irritation, and sticks are not adequate for full-body coverage.
Be sure to rub in the sunscreen lotion well and ensure that your baby’s skin is covered. Do not forget the ears, lips, tops of feet, backs of knees, and feet.
Infants six months and under need sun protection that the FDA has approved for use in this age group, or preferably no sunscreen at all. Your pediatrician can also give you valuable guidance on this topic.
As a rule, the FDA and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) prefers that you keep infants younger than six months away from direct sunlight. The best protection for infants is to stay in the shade.
Essential Sun Safety Tips for Children
Here are some essential sun safety tips to follow when exposing your baby to the sunlight for extended periods:
- Always seek your pediatrician’s advice before using sunscreen on your baby.
- Avoid exposing your baby to sunlight between 10 am and 2 pm. This is when the sun is most potent and UV rays are most intense. Infants 6 months and younger should, as much as possible, not be exposed to direct sunlight at any time.
- Children with sensitive skin should be protected by sunscreen and sun-protective clothing - long sleeves, pants, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses if they are old enough to tolerate them.
- Infants' skin can burn much faster than adults’ can. In the summer, apply sunscreen liberally. Reapply every two hours or more if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors.
- Give your baby breast milk or formula if they are younger than six months, and water if they are older than six months to keep them continuously hydrated. This is especially important if you will be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Carry a cooler with you to ensure that your baby’s drinks remains cool.
- Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible while out of the house. When outside and there is no shade, you could protect the baby from the sun with a pop-up tent or an umbrella shade.
- Never use sunscreen on your baby’s skin if it is damaged or broken. Stop using sunscreen immediately and consult your pediatrician if a rash occurs.
- Ensure that sunscreen does not have direct contact with your baby’s face, especially the eyes. If sunscreen does get into their eyes by mistake, rinse it out with copious amounts of water as soon as possible. See your pediatrician if adverse symptoms persist.
- Cover any exposed skin areas with sunscreen before putting clothes on them or covering them up with a stroller for shade when walking outside.
- Watch your typical signs of sunburn and dehydration and sunburn, including high temperature, excessive fussiness, redness, and constant crying. If any of these symptoms are evident, seek shade immediately and then contact your pediatrician.
Our Top Recommendations for Baby Sunscreen
Badger Balm SPF 30
- Contains non-mineral zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block out the sun's rays
- Contains moisturizing organic ingredients like shea butter and sunflower oil
- 40-minute water-resistance
- Available in lotion and stick forms
Thinkbaby SPF 50
- Non-greasy mineral formula
- 80-minute water resistance
- No parabens, BPA, phthalates, and other toxic ingredients
- Available in lotion and stick form
Where to Buy the Best Sunscreen for Babies
Kids, especially those younger than 6 months, are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV rays because they have thinner skin that is more sensitive than an adult's.
As we have noted above, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends protecting infants from the sun, and if possible, not taking them out in the sun at all. Parents should avoid being out during peak hours (10 am-4 pm) with their children when possible. We think you should take their advice seriously!
If you want to purchase the best products without fragrances so your baby stays safe and healthy while enjoying themselves outside this summer, we can help. At Tastyganics, we have various products that provide sun protection to help keep your baby safe from the sun's harmful rays.
- Jennifer Akiyama