Children under 6 months are more sensitive to the sun and also more sensitive to any kind of chemicals that might be present in sunscreens. The AAD (American Academy of Dermatology) recommends against exposing babies less than 6 months old to the sun and also suggests that parents use minimal amount of sunscreen. In fact I would go ahead and recommend not to use sunscreen at all – since it is not as difficult as you might imagine. What helps is that kids at that age are not mobile at all and stay put, which makes your job far easier. Here is what I did
- Use strollers wtith sunshade whenever I took them for a walk, and don’t worry – a little bit of exposure as I adjust the positions would not do them much harm.
- When we took them for a walk in our baby carriers we used the umbrella on most occasions.
- Bought multiple hats for them to wear when they were out. Hats which allow you to tie a string work better since these hats don’t tend to fly with the wind. Here is variety of hats just on Amazon.
- When we took them for picnics or to the beach we used this particular sun tent –
Pacific Breeze EasyUp Beach Tent. This one – Schylling Infant UV Playshade also is a good choice but I would avoid ones like these – Sport-Brella Umbrella – Portable Sun and Weather Shelter – more suitable for adults, even though they are easier to install. Make sure you look for UV protection in these tents.
Once the kid grows to be 6 months old you could start using sunscreens- especially since the baby skin is still extremely vulnerable at this point. Here are some factors to consider.
- Opt for physical sunscreens(sunblocks) that sit on the skin and reflect the UVAs rather than chemical ones(sunscreens) that are absorbed by the skin . These are likely to be more greasy as they are made of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the main chemical. The other disadvantage of chemical sunscreens is that it needs to be applied 15-20 mins in advance to be effective.
2. Look for Broad spectrum protection that protects from both UVA/UVB rays. Most physical sunscreens do this – which provides another reason to stick with these.
3. Look for protection above SPF 15+ to SPF 30 – anything more than that involves more chemicals if you are using a chemical sunscreen – there are some physical sunscreens which claim SPF 50 but usually the protection is around 30 plus.
4. Look for waterproof sunscreens as they are likely to stick for longer times even when the baby is sweating.
5. Look for hypoallergenic sunscreens and avoid fragrances. Look for the ingredients and immediately avoid if you see words like octinoxate and octisalate – both potential carcinogens.
6. Sunblocks are more expensive but you generally will not be spending tons on this unless your kids are out all the time.
- If you do use a chemical-based sunscreen, do a patch test first to make sure your child won’t have a reaction to it.
- Apply the sunscreen generously, making sure every part of your child’s body gets a good coating. Focus on burn-prone areas like the ears, nose, back of the neck, and shoulders
- Reapply sunscreen often. Waterproof sunscreens may be slightly hardier than other products, but don’t trust a label that promises to protect for eight hours. This is more important than using high SPF products.
- I prefer lotions to sprays and usually apply before dressing them up so that I can reach all places I want to reach.
AMAZON BEST SELLER
The Babyganics Mineral Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion is the best seller on Amazon and is well reviewed but I am skeptical of Babyganics in general – a company which I believe has been less than honest in its projection of its ingredients. A lot of other bloggers have accused this company of greenwashing and while I am not going as far as saying that, I evaluate their products more carefully before accepting or endorsing any of them.
The ones I do recommend are the ones that I had discovered after hours of research in every website and blog out there talking about sunscreens for babies. These are a few that seem to stand out without any negative information.
Almost every sunblock claims to be Paraben and PABA free and there are many sunblocks which still have lots of chemicals. But Thinkbaby is one of the few that I have not been able to find anything negative in terms of constituents. EWG or Environmental Working Group has recommended it among its top products with a rating of 1 (which means very good). It is very creamy – feeling almost like a moisturizer and is easy to apply.
Some people have complained that its a little too expensive and can be painful if it hits the eyes – which is a problem with most of these sunblocks.
2. Badger Baby Natural Organic Sunscreen (SPF30) – Just as I mentioned that Babyganics reputation often precedes the evaluation of any product from them, I would say quite the opposite for Badger – where the brand name fills me with confidence even before I examine the product. It is made with an organic base of sunflower oil and beeswax and contains no chemicals at all.
Why is this not at the top of the list – only because not everyone will like its constituency of this sunblock – it is greasy and does not seem to absorb into the skin leaving a white covering on the skin. While this is how a sunblock should work, the fact is that aesthetics are also important when it comes to our children. I still preferred this one among the many I checked, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.