Does My Baby Need Sunscreen?
You might be surprised to hear that for babies under six months of age, sunscreen is not recommended. Babies have a higher surface area to body-weight ratio and less mature skin compared to kids, increasing risk of exposure to chemicals in sunscreen and side effects from it. Instead, it’s recommended to keep your baby shaded and out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
So, what about an infant over 6 months old? Well, you might also be surprised to hear that my family doesn’t use a lot of sunscreen (even with a now 3 year old). Instead, we try to work with the sun rather than against it.
Here are the general guidelines I use:
- We avoid the sun when it’s at its highest from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- We play in the backyard or go on walks/bike rides in the morning or in the evening when it cools down.
- For desert hiking we always head out in the morning and have a goal to be back to the car by 10 a.m. helping us avoid hiking in the heat of the day.
- We look for areas to hang out that have shade available or create our own shade.
- We primarily go to parks that have shade from trees, and find shade to sit under when we go swimming or picnicking.
- We take a beach umbrella tent when shade isn’t an option.
- If we are going to be in direct sun for long periods and shade isn’t available, we usually cover up with protective clothing and bucket hats. We often used a My Swim Baby hat for both swimming and hiking.
- For swimming, we use a long sleeved swim shirt, a reusable swim diaper, along with her swim hat.
- Don’t forget those eyes! Those little eyelids and irises are incredibly delicate. The sooner you can get your little one in the habit of wearing sunglasses the better. The beginnings of long lasting eye damage can start at a very young age.
- We love Babiators brand sunglasses because they are virtually indestructible and come with an awesome warranty.
- One trick we have found to get babies to wear sunglasses is to put them in direct sunlight, let them feel the effects (ie. squinting, closing eyes, sneezing), and then try on a pair of sunglasses. Even at a young age they will recognize the benefits.
- Once our baby got old enough, we started using sunscreen when we would be in direct sun for extended periods.
- Because we often cover up with clothing first, it significantly reduces the surface area we have to apply sunscreen to. Typically, we only have to put it on our kiddo’s face, back of the neck, and legs when swimming.
- The sunscreen we use is always mineral based and reef safe (See my article on reef safe sunscreen for more info). We’ve tried quite a few, and Thinkbaby has by far been our favorite.
- We re-apply often, and make sure to take breaks in shade.
As we come into warmer days, I hope you have a great summer making memories with your sweet little baby!
Enjoy the rays,