Babies are delicate little creatures, which is why they need their own special kind of sun protection when they play outside. That’s where baby sunscreens come in.
But what makes baby sunscreen special anyway? “We tend to use sunscreen that contains mineral blockers for babies, while adults use mineral blockers alongside chemical blockers as well,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Many parents are concerned with the use of titanium dioxide [in sunscreens for kids], so many of the latest baby sunscreens are zinc-only. Because zinc is an element found naturally in our bodies, it’s safe to use on [delicate baby] skin.”
Still, even with the best, zinc-only sunscreen for babies at the ready, most dermatologists, including Zeichner, don’t recommend using sunscreen on newborn babies. Newborn babies should be protected from the sun with umbrellas, blankets and canopies. Only once a baby is 6 months old should you start applying the sunscreen—sunscreen specially formulated for babies.
Which leads us to another frequently asked question: If baby sunblock is so good, can adults use it, too? Answer: 100 percent yes. “In fact, I commonly recommend baby sunscreen for adults who have very sensitive skin,” the dermatologist tells The Bump. “Zinc oxide is not irritating; it’s used to help calm inflamed skin.”
That said, not all sunscreen for babies is made equally! There’s sunscreen for babies with eczema and sunscreen for babies with sensitive skin, natural sunscreen for babies and hypoallergenic sunscreen for babies. And, of course, there are waterproof options, too! And there are plenty of options for each, which is why The Bump has rounded up the best of the best sunscreen for babies, so you can consider baby’s needs and pick the best sunscreen for babies for your little sunshine—‘cause he’s going to need it before he meets the actual sunshine!
Plus, we’ve included reviews from The Bump Baby Buzz Club “Bumpies”—real moms like you!—so you know you can count on them.
How to Put Sunscreen on a Baby
As it turns out, the rules for sunscreen application are more or less the same for babies, kids and adults. But of course, as babies are smaller, they don’t need quite so much sunscreen. Here are a few more tips and tricks to keep in mind when considering how to put sunscreen on a baby, courtesy of Zeichner:
- DO apply a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen to the head of a baby. If the baby doesn’t have hair yet, DO make sure to cover the scalp with sunscreen.
- DO make sure that babies cover up—and accessorize! When in the sun, babies should wear long-sleeved clothing, hats and even eye protection. (Yes, baby sunglasses. Those little eyes are sensitive!)
- DO make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or as soon as a baby gets out of the water.
- DON’T chase babies and kids when applying sunscreen, especially when it comes to sunscreen sprays. In order for those sprays to be effective, they must be sprayed 1 inch from the skin. Spray until the skin glistens.
- DON’T be afraid to use sunscreen sticks, just make sure to apply them correctly. You should apply a sunscreen stick back and forth to make sure that there’s an adequate amount of sunscreen on the skin. And afterward, you still must rub the sunscreen in fully.
Plus, here are a few tips for applying sunscreen on babies and kids, straight from the Bumpies!
“Sing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ while you put it on. It makes it fun!”
“Distract them with toys.”
“Explain to them that it helps them.”
“Use a stick applicator on their face—it won’t run into their eyes.”
“Let her watch you do it first—she’ll want to do it, too!”
“Tell them it’s either sunscreen or no playtime.”
“Do it fast!”
Best Sunscreen for Babies With Eczema
If your baby has been diagnosed with eczema, don’t fret. After rigorous testing, three baby sunscreens have earned the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, meaning that they protect baby with eczema skin without irritating it. These are the three:
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Lotion, $10, Target.com
CeraVe Baby SPF 45 Sunscreen, $16, Amazon.com
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Lotion SPF 50, $11, Target.com
Best Sunscreen for Babies With Sensitive Skin
Even if baby doesn’t have eczema, he may still have sensitive skin, and you’ll want the best sunscreen for babies that caters to that. The five below are all designed to protect babies from the sun without irritating their soft, vulnerable skin.
Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50, $13, Target.com
Nurture My Body Organic Baby Sunscreen SPF 32, $24, Nurturemybody.com
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Kids Sunscreen for Face and Body SPF 60, $20, Amazon.com
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30, $26, Amazon.com
COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50, $26, Coolasuncare.com
Best Natural Sunscreen for Babies
Because we don’t want our babies coming into contact with potentially harmful chemicals, most of the best sunscreen for babies is crafted from natural ingredients. Still, while many may say “natural” on the label, some are definitely more natural than others. That’s why we turned to the Environmental Working Group, which works to test just how natural various products claim to be. The top four baby sunscreens on this list landed a 1 rating on the site, the best the site has to offer.
Loving Naturals Adorable Baby Sunscreen SPF 30, $20, Thrivemarket.com
Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30, All Natural and Certified Organic, $14, Amazon.com
Goddess Garden Organics Baby SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen, $17, Amazon.com
California Baby Super Sensitive Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen, $11, Jet.com
BurnOut Sun Care Kids Physical Sunscreen SPF 35, $18, Burnoutsun.com
Best Hypoallergenic Sunscreen for Kids
Another concern for parents? Finding hypoallergenic products, especially for babies whose skin easily reacts to lotions. These five baby sunscreens have all been dermatologist-tested and approved, which means they have the least chance of aggravating baby’s skin, not to mention his eyes and hair.
Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, Fragrance Free SPF 30, $20, Babobotanicals.com
Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $10, Target.com
Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+, $14, Bedbathbeyond.com
Burt’s Bees Baby Nourishing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, $15, Amazon.com
Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 35, $19, Gowaxhead.com
Best Waterproof Sunscreen for Kids
And finally, we have our list of the best waterproof sunscreen for babies. All five sunscreens included here are at least SPF 50 and resistant to water play for at least 80 minutes. (The average is 40, so these offer double the fun in the sun!) So if baby is already ready to swim, these are the baby sunscreens you’ll want to turn to.
Bare Republic Mineral Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $15, Gobareoutside.com
Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play UVA/UVB Protection Sunscreen Lotion SPF 100, $9, Amazon.com
Coppertone Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $19 (for a pack of two), Amazon.com
Sunology Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50, $15, Sunology.com
Baby Sunscreen Reviews From Real Moms!
Of course, while we’ve done our best to round up the best of the best sunscreen for babies, there’s no review stronger than that of a mom’s—which is why we included a whole lineup of real mom baby sunscreen reviews for you right here! Check out what the moms of The Bump Baby Buzz Club are saying about the baby sunscreens they love most.
Aveeno Baby Sunscreen Review: “Both of my boys had eczema, and this was the only sunscreen that wouldn't dry out their skin. A couple different sunscreens would turn their skin red after I applied it. The Aveeno Baby Sunscreen didn't cause any reaction. It also smelled the best and worked the longest!”
Badger Baby Sunscreen Review: “The best thing about it is the ingredients list. It makes me feel secure that it will protect my baby from the sun without harming him in any way.”
Babyganics Sunscreen Review: “My children have never burned using Babyganics sunscreen. We prefer the spray nozzle too for application—very convenient!”
Banana Boat Baby/Kids Sunscreen Review: “It has an SPF 100 rating! It’s thick and greasy, but my daughter has never burned while using it. She hasn’t even tanned.”
Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen: “It’s much safer than a lot of the other sunscreens out there! Plus, it rubs in without leaving too much residue, and it isn’t too smelly.”
California Baby Sunscreen Review: “It has minimal ingredients, but a high EWG and Think Dirty rating, so I know I’m not slathering chemicals all over my son.”
Coppertone Baby Sunscreen Review: “The sunscreen did its job, and it wasn’t outrageously priced like some of the other brands.”
The Honest Company Sunscreen Review: “I have a son with severe allergies, so I like being able to identify what I’m using on my child. The label is easy to read. Honest makes fantastic products!”
Updated May 2018