Your Guide to Sunblock for Babies
September 5, 2018
Summer is a wonderful time for you and your baby. Everyone remembers those endless childhood summers of playing games and relaxing outside. But every year, the thermometer rises a little higher. It’s more important than ever to stay safe in the sun. Keep these quick tips handy and share them with other parents, so that you and baby can enjoy summer to the full!
Tips to keep baby happy in the sun
Apply sunscreen regularly
How often should you apply sunscreen for babies? If your baby is 6 months and up, then you want to apply sunblock frequently. The minimum is every 2 hours – but if you’re being active outside, sweating, or swimming, then you should reapply much more frequently.
Here’s what to look out for on sunblock labels:
• SPF factor. This should be a minimum of 30, to give babies the sun protection they need.
• UVA/UVB protection. Make sure your sunblock protects against both kinds! UVA radiation is linked to aging, while UVB radiation is what causes a sunburn.
• Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These minerals give great protection, and won’t irritate sensitive baby skin.
• If you’re swimming, sweating, or even just playing with the garden hose, make sure sunblock is up to the challenge. Remember to reapply frequently.
And here’s what to avoid:
• Spray sunscreens. Spray sunscreens are convenient, but it’s hard to tell when you’ve applied enough. Use liquid sunscreen to be sure.
• Oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. Some researchers have raised concerns about these chemicals, but the jury is still out. Read the label on your sunscreen and make an informed decision about whether it’s the best choice for your family.
• Powdered sunscreen or sunscreen wipes. These forms of sunscreen are banned by the FDA. Some stores still sell them online, but you should avoid them completely. Towelettes and powders are not reliable or safe.
• Tanning oils. Babies don’t need to tan! And most tanning oils contain minuscule amounts of sunscreen. They simply won’t offer any protection. Remember, sunscreen for children should always be at least 30 SPF.
Check out this list of recommended sunscreen brands for kids from the Environmental Working Group.
Use a safe insect repellent
Nobody likes mosquito bites or buzzing flies – especially not babies! Make sure your child is protected with a safe, non-toxic insect repellent. Avoid “high-strength” or strong-smelling brands, or anything which contains DEET.
Instead, try natural repellents, such as citronella oil, lemongrass oil or soybean oil. These traditional remedies smell much better, too!
Be careful to check recommendations for natural oils: some essential oil repellents, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus, are not safe for children under three years old. Remember that insect repellent has to be applied less frequently than sunscreen, so don’t be tempted by combination sunblock and insect repellent. Buy and apply them separately.
Always wear a hat and sunnies
This is important for all ages. But it’s vital for babies under 6 months, who are too little to wear sunblock. Instead, protect them with a big floppy hat and lots of shade. For older babies, a hat and sunglasses are still great protection against heat headaches or heatstroke. Set a good example and wear yours too!