Can I Use Sunscreen On My Baby?

Infants 6 months and younger should avoid sunscreen as it can irritate the skin.

Adults frequently slather their kids with sunscreen at the beach, park and other outdoor locales. However, little ones may not be best served by this type of sun protection. There are other options to provide shade if necessary. Not sure if your baby requires sunscreen? Read on.

Is sunscreen safe?

The Mayo Clinic recommends using baby-specific sunscreen for children ages 6 months and older. Look for a sunscreen that has titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as these are less irritating to the eyes and skin, like this suncream from Babyganics. Avoid any products with bug repellents like DEET. Sunscreen should be reapplied to these tots every two hours or more frequently if the children are swimming or sweating. Babies younger than 6 months should not use sunscreen. Instead, dress them in a hat and long clothing to prevent sunburn. Use the shade feature on your baby carrier or stroller and add a pull-down or stick-on shade to your car on the side where your car seat is. Sunglasses protect the eyes, so add a pair to your diaper bag for sunny days. Look for ones with the strap around the back to help them stay on your baby’s head.

It’s important to keep your infant out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest and skin is most likely to burn. If that means dressing your child in longer clothing, keep an eye on him or her because it’s possible the baby could overheat. Consider sitting in under an umbrella in the shade or seeking other respite from the sun. Reddening or splotchy skin as well as crying can be signs that your infant is uncomfortably hot and should be moved to a cooler locale. Once there, consider stripping the child of his or her clothing to promote better air circulation on the skin and reduce irritation due to heat.

a dad holding his baby up in the sun
Infants should wear long clothing and headwear to prevent sunburn.

It seems like sunscreen is a good idea as it protects skin from the sun. However, infants age 6 months and younger have incredibly sensitive skin and therefore should avoid using any products that may contain harmful chemicals. The potential side effects from sunscreens are not worth risking in such young children. Instead, lightweight clothing and shade are the best options for keeping infants safe and sunburn-free.Why the age difference?

Should I try UV protectant clothing?

As of late, many children’s clothing companies have created long-sleeved rashguards and pants that include UV protectant material. This innovation is similar to wearing sunscreen but without the chemicals that babies should avoid. UV protectant clothing is a great option to protect your little one, but keep in mind that he or she is still at risk of becoming dehydrated and sunburning exposed parts of the body. Even with this clothing, your little one should don a large hat, sunglasses and shoes to protect his or her whole body. Also, make sure the child is drinking water and get out of the sun immediately if you suspect sunburn.