Baby Sunscreen

Expert Pediatrics Q&A

Germany, Bavaria, Portrait of baby boy with suncream, close up
Baby Sunscreen Info. Rainer Dittrich / Getty Images

When can I start using sunscreen on my baby to protect her from the sun?

While it is best to simply try and avoid exposing your baby to the sun, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that when necessary, "a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands."

When to Start Using Sunscreen on my Baby

It used to be advised that you should not use sunscreen on babies less than six months old, but the AAP now states that sunscreen is probably safe to use on younger children, especially if you just use it on small areas of your baby's skin exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing.

This has more to do with avoiding the dangers of getting too much sun and allowing your baby to get sunburned, though. In fact, the latest AAP policy statement about infants under six months of age and the hazards of UV radiation states that "Parents may apply sunscreen when sun avoidance is impossible and, then, only on exposed areas. "

Younger children should be kept out of direct sunlight because they can burn easily and may not be able to handle getting overheated as well as older children.

So even though it is likely safe to use sunscreen on kids less than six months old, it is safer to keep them out of the sun.

Even when you are out and about on a sunny day, find ways to keep your baby in the shade.

Best Baby Sunscreen

If you do use a sunscreen, which is best for your baby?

In general, you should get a sunscreen:

  • with an SPF of at least 15
  • that provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • that is water resistant

Other characteristics of the best sunscreens and sunblock for young kids include that they are hypoallergenic and fragrance free and come in a form that is easy to use on your child, whether that means it is a gel, lotion, spray, continuous spray, etc., so that you will actually use them.

Sun Safety Tips for Babies

Other tips to keep your baby safe from the sun:

  • Apply enough sunscreen to protect your child. Most experts estimate that many parents only use about half of the recommended amount of sunscreen on their children, providing less protection than they think. This mostly applies to older children, though. For a young infant, just apply enough to protect exposed areas.
  • Be sure to reapply sunscreen regularly and at least every 2 hours, or more often if your child is swimming or sweating. Again, this mostly applies to older children. If you do end up using sunscreen on a younger infant, they¬†hopefully won't be out in the sun for so long that it will need to be reapplied. Even with sun protection, two hours is going to be a long time in the heat for a younger child.
  • Remember to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before your child will be exposed to the sun.
  • Use sunscreen even if it is cloudy outside. Clouds don't absorb all of the UV radiation that may harm your child.
  • Avoid sun exposure when the effects of the sun are the strongest, which is usually from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Use physical protection, including clothing, such a hat with a 3-inch brim, lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and/or a stroller, tent, umbrella or tree.
  • Breastfeeding babies should get a vitamin D supplement instead of using sunlight exposure as a source of vitamin D.

Most importantly, keep younger children, especially those younger than six months, out of the sun.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. Sun and Water Safety Tips.

American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents. PEDIATRICS Volume 127, Number 3, March 2011

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