Summer’s around the corner, and fun in the sun for you and your baby may involve walks out in nature, lazy beach days, and time to just relax in the yard and enjoy the breeze, and taking a nap in the dappled light beneath a tree. As you enjoy picnics and other outdoor activities, make sure that you take along a tube of sunscreen for your baby (as well as yourself!). Sun protection starts early so it’s important to find the best sunscreenfor your child. The About Pediatrics site notes that two mistakes parents sometimes make are choosing the highest SPF, and only looking at brands that have the word “kids” on their label.
For Babies Less Than Six Months Old
According to the FDA, the best approach for being in the sun with your baby is to avoid any exposure to the sun for infants under six months old. Sunscreen is recommended for adults and children, but there’s a slightly different set of advice for young babies. The best sunscreenfor your baby is to keep her in the shade. If there aren’t any trees or areas with natural shade, then bring along an umbrella or keep your baby beneath the canopy of his stroller. Avoid the high-noon peak hours between 10 AM and 2 PM which is probably a good idea for everyone!
Fun In the Sun For Baby
If your baby is more than six months old, apply sunscreen liberally, says the Mayo Clinic, but keep him out of direct sunlight if at all possible. By dressing your baby in protective swimwear, a cute hat with a brim, and sun glasses, he should be equipped to enjoy his day at the beach.
There are two factors to consider when you’re enjoying a sunny day with your baby: their skin is much less mature than an adult’s and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio as compared to adults or older children. Take both of these into account when considering how much sunscreen you would slather on—their exposure will be much greater, potentially increasing the side effects from sunscreen. If there’s no way to keep a baby out of the sun—perhaps you go boating regularly and cover up your baby but want to be prepared for those moments when her skin might get kissed by the sun—talk to your pediatrician, who may advise that you apply small dabs of sunscreen to your baby’s cheeks, or other areas that might need it. Before you proceed it’s a good idea to test out the product on your baby’s wrist to ensure it doesn’t irritate her. As you’re out and about with your baby make sure you’re aware that she doesn’t sweat like you do, so keep her cool and aerated, and give her water to stay hydrated.
Make sure your baby wears a hat that protects his face and provides sufficient shade at all times. Avoid any combination sun screens that include DEET or another pesticide. Young infants often put their hands in their mouth, and the AAP recommends not using DEET on babies younger than two months old. And, if you notice that your baby is getting sun burned, take her out of the sun immediately and apply cold compresses.
When you’re choosing a baby sunscreen it’s best to not always choose what’s on sale, but look for a high quality product that meets these requirements:
- The best sunscreen has a broad-spectrum of protection with an SPF of at least 15 like the one here manufactured by The Honest Company. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every couple of hours or more often if your baby is spending time in the water or perspiring.
- Broad spectrum basically means that the sunscreen will protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays may not be your baby’s immediate concern as these cause wrinkling, aging and skin cancer, but it should be on your list, for the future health of your child. UVB rays are the ones that cause the uncomfortable sunburn, turning you pink or red from too much sun.
- Look for a sunscreen that contains only inorganic filters, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, and definitely avoid the combination sunscreen/insect repellent varieties that may contain DEET. Sunscreen typically has to be reapplied whereas insect repellent does not and there’s no need to put an additional chemical on your child’s skin.
- SafeMama finds that the best sunscreenshould be free of parabens, phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, SLS/SLES and more. She recommends that the sunscreen should be mostly natural ingredients. The big no-no on her list is oxybenzone.
Beyond the safety issue there are also preferences that should be taken into account. Some moms prefer brands that don’t turn the skin white or apply with a sticky consistency. Finding a fragrance that is appealing and non-irritating is also a secondary consideration.