Many sunscreen bottles tell you not to use the product on babies under 6 months, since their skin is so thin and delicate. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, says it’s okay to put a little sunscreen on your infant if you have to. Before you slather it on, though, there’s a few things you’ll want to consider.
Because of the risk of sunburn and heatstroke, the AAP says babies younger than 6 months should avoid both direct and indirect sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside.
- Shade is your friend, whether it’s a stroller canopy, umbrella or tree
- Create coverage with clothing, opting for lightweight long sleeve shirts, pants and wide-brimmed hats
- Look for clothes with sun protection, like an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) or UVA/UVB protection
Catching a few rays is inevitable. In these situations, apply small amounts of sunscreen to any exposed areas, like baby’s face, hands, neck and ears.
- Test sunscreen on a small section of baby’s skin and watch for a reaction if you’re trying it for the first time
- Apply 15 to 30 minutes before going outside
- Reapply every one and a half to two hours
- Zinc oxide-based sunscreen is the preferable type of sun block for babies. Zinc is a mineral blocker that works by sitting on top of the skin to form a protective barrier against the sun, rather than seeping into pores
- Use SPF 15 or greater, but keep in mind there’s not enough research to prove any SPF above 50 actually offers greater protection
- Don’t make the common mistake of missing the area around the eyes
From the best sunscreens for babies with eczema to some great hypoallergenic options, see our full list of baby sunscreen recommendations here.