can you use sunscreen on a baby?

I know you’re putting on sunscreen every morning, RIGHT? But do you use it on your baby too?

Sure, you could argue that 6 months is way too young to start worrying about wrinkles – and you’re totally right. When you have a baby, that’s the least of your concerns.

But forget about wrinkles for a while. What about sunburns that could increase the chances of your child getting skin cancer later on in life? Or the sun damage you don’t see now but that shows up unannounced years down the line?

Your child will thank you if you start his/her sun protection early. But how early is too early?

Is Sunscreen Dangerous For Babies & Young Children?

I wouldn’t sun sunscreen is dangerous for babies and young children. But you have to be double careful what you use on their skin.

Infants’ skin is thinner than adults and not fully-developed yet. UV filters penetrate it more easily.

Plus, compared to adults, babies have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio. Translation: proportionately infants have more skin for the size body as compared to an adult.

This means that an UV filter that’s 100% safe for adults is more likely to cause allergies and irritations in babies.

So, what are you supposed to do, skip the sunscreen?

Yes, but only for a while…

Related: What To Do When You’re Allergic To Sunscreen

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Babies Under 6 Months Old Don’t Need Sunscreen

If your baby is under 6 months, you do NOT need to apply sunscreen on him/her. But how to keep your precious baby safe from UV harm then?

Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes that “the best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun, and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”

If you can’t keep your baby in the shade, Sachs suggests to make them wear lightweight protective clothes. Avoid fabrics that keep bodies too warm. Baby can’t cool down with sweat yet and when they’re too hot, they are at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Don’t forget to add a wide-brimmed hat and glasses!

Related: 7 Ways To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

If Your Baby Needs Sunscreen, Use A Mineral One

What if your baby is six months or older and can start wearing sunscreen?

The safest sunscreen for babies and young children uses mineral UV filters, i.e. zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Synthetic UV filters like Avobenzone and Oxybenzone are more likely to cause irritations. Plus, they can be absorbed by the body.

FYI, just because an UV filter can penetrate the body, it doesn’t mean it’s toxic. In the cases of Avobenzone and Oxyebenzone, your body simply gets rid of them through urine.

At least, that’s what happens in adults. We don’t have any studies on how these sunscreens work when absorbed into babies’ bodies (for obvious reasons!), so dermatologists recommend you opt for mineral UV filters that safely stay on the surface of their skin.

Related: 3 Reasons Mineral Sunscreens Are Best For Children and Sensitive Skin

badger balm zinc oxide sunscreen cream spf 30

What Are The Best Sunscreens For Babies?

FYI, if you’re using a mineral sunscreen for yourself, you can safely use that on your baby, too. But if you prefer your baby to have his/her own, here are the best sunscreens for babies:

  • Badger Baby Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (£16.99): available at iHerb
  • Blue Lizard Baby Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30 ($19.99): available at iHerb and Walmart
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen With SPF 50 ($10.97): available at Walmart

Related: Can You Use Your Child’s Sunscreen?

The Bottom Line

Once your kid is 6 months old, you can start applying sunscreen on him/her. Just make sure you opt for a mineral formula. Synthetic UV filters tend to be too harsh for babies and young children.

Do you apply sunscreen on your baby? Share your thoughts in the comments below.