Warmer weather means it’s time to get outside and enjoy some fresh air. But what about sunscreen protection? Whether your family is enjoying outdoor time at the beach, the park or your own backyard, sun protection is a must. However, not all sun protection options are created equal. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your tiniest family members stay sun safe this summer.
1. Try true sun blockers first. It’s generally safe to use sunscreen after babies are 6 months old. However, keeping babies out of the sun in the first place is a much better idea. Consider true sun blockers like long-sleeved tops, pants and a brimmed hat to help Baby avoid getting sunburned. If the clothing features UV protectant, all the better. But if it’s too hot for that kind of clothing or you’ll be outdoors for an extended period, then sunscreen is an absolute must! And whenever possible, keep your little one under the shade of an umbrella, tent or stroller as much as possible.
2. Learn “Sunscreen 101.” When using sunscreen, opt for one with an SPF of 30 or higher that has UVA/UVB protection. I recommend one that’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and uses titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to block the sun’s rays. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which are absorbed into the skin and take about 30 minutes to fully work, these mineral-based sunscreens aren’t absorbed and act as a physical barrier to protect skin from the sun. Also, use a sunscreen that does NOT contain an insect repellent. Personal favorites include Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen and Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen for Babies.
3. Test it out. Before slathering Baby with a new sunscreen, though, always test a small amount on a tiny patch of her skin to make sure it doesn’t irritate. If you’re stuck with nothing but a chemical sunscreen, pre-test first and then be sure to apply it 30 minutes before you go out into the sun.
4. Avoid two spots. To avoid irritating your baby’s eyes, do not apply sunscreen to the backs of your baby’s hands or near eyes in case she rubs her face.
5. Reapply! Lastly, remember to reapply the sunscreen every two hours or so—regardless of what the label says—and especially after swimming or any water contact. Forgetting to do so may result in a scorching sunburn, which is both painful and dangerous and will undoubtedly make the next few days a nightmare for Baby and parents!
For more product recommendations, visit Baby Bundle’s forum to ask other moms what they use to protect their little ones from sunburn.
Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg (aka “Dr. Jen”) is the co-founder of Baby Bundle, a comprehensive parenting app created to simplify the first 24 months of life with a baby. You can find Dr. Jen’s private practice in Manhattan, where she has been practicing for the past 18 years. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine; a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics; has appeared on The TODAY show, CNN and Wall Street Journal Online; and has published two parenting books, The Smart Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids through Check Ups, Illnesses and Accidents (2010), and Good Kids, Bad Habits (2007). She and her husband live just outside of New York City, where they are raising their three children.