Summer is in full swing and a question many new moms have is when is it safe for their baby to wear sunscreen? This post will answer when sunscreen is safe, other ways you can protect your baby from the sun and a review of mineral based sunscreens for your little one.
The general consensus by health professionals is to wait until baby is 6 months old before using sunscreen unless advised otherwise. Babies under 6 months have very fragile skin and limiting any sun exposure is best at this age. Young babies also tend to rub their eyes and put their hands in their mouth often. Until babies are 6 months of age they should be kept out of direct sunlight in a shaded area, under an umbrella or under the canopy of a stroller. Always remember to allow for airflow when covering a car seat or stroller as the temperature can rise quickly.
Try to limit your baby’s time in the sun between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. When enjoying time outside it is important to:
- Cover as much of your child in clothing that is a tight weave or has a UPF value (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 40 or above.
- Make sure they are wearing a hat that covers as much of their face, neck, and ears as possible.
- Wear UV protective sunglasses.
- Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above on all skin not covered by clothing.
- Use a lipchap with an SPF of 30 or above.
- Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes prior to sun exposure.
- Remember to re-apply sunscreen according to the directions on the bottle or after swimming or heavy perspiration.
Sunburns in children should be avoided and a sunburn in a child under 1 year of age requires assessment by a doctor and can be a medical emergency if severe.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen
Sunscreen is our skin’s last line of defense. Choosing the right sunscreen for your baby can feel overwhelming. The two main types of sunscreen are mineral based and chemical based. In recent years there have been some concerns about oxybenzone, avobenzone and retinyl palmitate and their possible link to hormone disruption and skin cancer. The research is somewhat divided. Your best bet is to check the ingredient list and avoid products that contain these ingredients if you are concerned.
Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and titanium oxide to form a protective barrier from the sun. They tend to be a bit thicker and chalkier but the newer versions have come a long way. I reviewed thinkbaby sunscreen and Saje Sunguard.
I used Saje Sunguard SPF 30 for a day spent at a spray park, tubing and playing on a playground. It is a bit thick so you need to ensure it is evenly spread but the white appearance absorbs quickly. It smells great and it protected my girls’ skin really well.
Thinkbaby is rated an SPF 50+. It smells lightly fruity and spreads better than most mineral sunscreens we have tried. It is water resistant for up to 80 minutes requiring less frequent application while playing in water. It protected my little ladies extremely well for a day spent running in and out of sprinklers and a pool.
I would definitely recommend both sunscreens. When choosing a sunscreen for your child check the ingredients, ensure it has an SPF of 30 or greater, and consider whether it is water resistant or not if you plan to spend time in water. Have fun in the sun!
For some great free printable sun safety resources check out the Canadian Dermatology Association Site.
Do you have any questions? We’re here to help! Reach out to a Mama Coach here.