The 8 Best Car Sun Shades to Protect Baby on the Go
We all know parents spend a lot of time in their cars. Whether that means taking your newborn to check-ups, getting out and about with your infant or driving your tot to preschool, those miles (and hours) only rack up more as your kiddo gets older. And when you have your hands at the wheel, it can be hard to tend to backseat needs, like bright sunlight shining into your little one’s face. That’s where car sun shades come into play. These clever designs offer added coverage for your little one’s comfort, but that’s not all. Most also provide protection from UVA rays to keep their skin safe while you’re on the road. Not sure where to begin when it comes to picking out the best car sun shade for your lifestyle? No problem. Below, check out how a car sun shade can benefit you and baby—then, shop our favorite options on the market now.
If you have kiddos in your backseat, there are plenty of advantages when it comes to using a sun shade for cars. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants under the six-month mark should be kept out of direct sunlight at all times. Dendy Engelman, MD, a Manhattan-based dermatologic surgeon, explains that glass isn’t effective at blocking UVA rays (aka the rays that cause premature aging and tanning, and increase the risk of skin cancer). This is why a car sun shade is “especially important for infants, toddlers and young children whose skin may be more susceptible to damage than an adult’s,” she says.
Another benefit: Car sun shades can keep the vehicle cooler, says Lauren Crosby, MD, a pediatrician and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Your little one will be more comfortable out of direct light, and they’ll appreciate not having the sun shining in their eyes as they try to nap, relax or play with their favorite travel toys.
You can’t talk about sun shades for cars without discussing sun safety, of course. “Window tinting is the safest way to block the sun,” explains Crosby—plus, it can prevent glass from shattering in an accident. The next best options are cling car sun shades or mesh window socks that don’t feature any pieces that can potentially injure anyone in the vehicle. While some styles are made with plastic or metal pieces—or attach to windows via suction cups or magnetic elements—Engelman recommends that parents avoid these designs. Why? “These features can be dangerous for the child if they become dislodged, either on their own or during a crash,” she explains. Instead, stick to cling or slip-on mesh styles for everyone’s safety.
There are a lot of sun shades for cars out there, and it can be hard to know which one is best for your family. Luckily, we spoke to experts to understand exactly what to look for as you shop. To streamline your experience, keep an eye out for these features:
- UPF rating: “Look for shades that are labeled ‘UPF 50’ or state how much light they block,” suggests Engelman. The higher the rating—or the more shade they provide—the more protected your child will be from UVA rays.
- Sizing: Before purchasing a car sun shade, check to make sure it’s the right size for your car window, says Crosby. This way, you can count on it to effectively block light, no matter what angle the sun is shining at.
- Visibility: While you’ll want a car sun shade that keeps your kiddo’s skin safe, you’ll also want to consider visibility. Crosby reminds parents to choose designs that don’t block their ability to see their child or the road as they drive. The car sun shade “can also cause the child to overheat if not enough air is circulating around it,” she continues, so you’ll want one that’s made of breathable materials.
Need backseat coverage but don’t want to spend hours scrolling through online retailers? We have your back. Below, shop the best car sun shades for a variety of needs, styles and budgets.
First up on our list of the best car sun shades is this cling cover. You’ll appreciate how it provides protection against UVA rays and sun glare, to keep your little love safe while on the move. To install it, simply place it on the window, run your hand over it and you’ll be ready to go—easy peasy. This sun shade for cars comes in a convenient pack of four, so you can block more than one window in your car if need be. And if you need to take them off at any point—don’t worry. Reviewers say they’re easy to detach and don’t leave any residue behind. Plus, a carry case is included for straightforward storage.
Dimensions: 21” (L) x 14” (W) | Material: N/A | Weight: 1.06 oz. | UPF rating: N/A
- Dual layer, mesh design for visibility and sun protection
- Simple installation
- Comes in a convenient pack of four and with a carry pouch
- Some reviewers wish they were a bit bigger to provide more coverage
- Others say they aren’t completely flat at first, but they do settle over time
- No UPF rating
Whether you have a newborn or an infant in the backseat, you can count on these car sun shades to offer coverage. The static cling design easily attaches to your window—plus, they can be taken off in seconds for added convenience. That means they’re great for taking on the go, whether that means using them in a relative’s car, a rental vehicle or anything in between. Best of all, they offer UPF 50+ protection to block over 98 percent of harmful rays.
Dimensions: 18.5" (L) x 12" (W) | Material: N/A | Weight: 3.8 oz. | UPF rating: 50+
- Can easily be removed and taken on the go
- Affordable price point
- Not suitable for SUVs
Searching for car sun shades that will keep your mini backseat driver cool? Look no further than this handy pack of two. You’ll appreciate how they have a UPF rating of 50+ (meaning they’ll block over 98% of UVA rays), and your tot will love the fun ocean-themed illustration. While they may not cover the entirety of every window out there, these car sun shades can easily be overlapped for added coverage. Other designs you (and your discerning tot) can choose from include safari, unicorn and tropical fish, to name a few.
Dimensions: 20” (L) x 12” (W) | Material: N/A | Weight: 5.6 oz. | UPF rating: 50+
- For added coverage, overlap the two shades
- Can be removed easily, without any residue
- Comes with a carry pouch for straightforward storage
- They may not be the easiest for parents to see through, due to the colorful print
Next up, we have a car windshield sun shade that’s ideal for hot summer days. The high-quality design is made from sturdy polyester and effectively protects against UVA and UVB rays. When your vehicle is parked, unfold this cover to keep the interior cool while you’re out and about (aka the seats won’t be hot to the touch when you return). Then, when it’s time to get back on the road, it easily collapses and should be able to fit into your door compartment or glove box. What’s more, this windshield sun shade is available in seven sizes, so you can find the best fit for your vehicle.
Dimensions: 64” (L) x 32” (W) | Material: Polyester | Weight: 4.8 oz. | UPF rating: N/A
- Reduces interior temperatures by up to 40 degrees F
- Sturdy design you can count on for many future car journeys
- Collapses in seconds for easy storage
- Available in seven sizes
- Can only be used when the car isn’t in motion
- No UPF rating
Mesh car sun shades are one of the safest options for little ones because they aren’t made with any hard materials (like metal or plastic) that pose potential risks, just like this option. It was designed with rear car windows in mind, and can be slipped over the tops of your vehicle’s back doors to provide coverage. When not in use, simply take it off, fold it up and place it into the convenient carry pouch. It can then easily be stored in a backseat pocket, the glovebox or the center console.
Dimensions: N/A | Material: Mesh | Weight: 7.8 oz. | UPF rating: N/A
- Soft mesh design easily slips over car doors
- Comes with a carry pouch for easy storage
- Not suitable for MPV class or RV class vehicles
- No UPF rating
If you drive an SUV, this mesh car sun shade will check all of the boxes on your list. The extra-large style was specifically created for larger vehicles, so you can depend on it to fit snugly and offer ample coverage. Another highlight: These sun shades for cars are breathable and can be used with the windows rolled up or down. Install them in under a minute by slipping them over your car doors—then, store them in the provided pouches when you’re off the road.
Dimensions: 42” (L) x 22” (W) | Material: Nylon, spandex | Weight: 7.2 oz. | UPF rating: N/A
- Specifically designed for SUVs and other large vehicles
- Soft, breathable mesh material
- Available in 14 sizes
- No UPF rating
Car windshield sun shades don’t have to be boring—just take this option, for instance. If your little one is a big fan of the movie Cars (or even if they aren’t), they’re bound to love this goofy design, complete with cartoon eyes. Use it when your car is parked at home or on the go to reduce the temperature inside your vehicle. To install it, use the suction cups provided to attach the top to your windshield and use the Velcro straps for added security. An added bonus: This funny car sun shade comes in four different colors, so you can even match it to your vehicle!
Dimensions: 51.2” (L) x 27.6” (W) | Material: Aluminum | Weight: 0.018 oz. | UPF rating: N/A
- Goofy design that your kiddo will love
- Keeps your vehicle cool while it’s parked
- Some reviewers say the print fades over time
- Can only be used when the car isn’t in motion
Last on our list of the best car sun shades is this pack of four cling-style covers. They have a UPF rating of 50+, meaning they’ll block over 98 percent of harmful UVA rays. You’ll also appreciate how the setup is a piece of cake; just press them onto your clean windows for extra shade in no time. Choose from two different sizes to find the best fit for your vehicle. Have a larger window? No problem—simply overlap them for added coverage.
Dimensions: 20” (L) x 12” (W) | Material: Mesh, film | Weight: 3.2 oz. | UPF rating: 50+
- Can be overlapped for extra coverage
- Available in two sizes
- Comes in a convenient pack of four
- Some reviewers say they can be difficult to see through while driving if placed on the driver’s side
To help you find the best car sun shade for your family’s needs, we did the bulk of the research for you and browsed options from leading brands and online retailers. We looked for several aspects when sourcing products, such as ease of use, quality and durability, affordability, style, material, size and, of course, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable car sun shade that will meet your and your child’s needs. We also read user reviews to get the low-down on how these products work for families, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.
What’s more, to ensure we’re highlighting products that are safe and effective, we chatted with a pediatrician and a dermatologist to understand essential features and safety considerations to keep top of mind as you shop. We also followed the safety recommendations of the AAP.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Dendy Engelman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, where she also completed her dermatology residency. Engelman is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and American College of Mohs Surgery.
Lauren Crosby, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician, and a member of and official spokesperson for the AAP. She earned her medical degree from the UCLA School of Medicine, and previously served as chief resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Healthy Children (AAP), Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen, July 2021
Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial process.