How To Choose Sunscreen for a Baby

Shopping for baby sunscreen can surely be very confusing. Here are what the labels say to lure you into buying a specific product:

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It’s surely a jungle!
Most of baby-targeted sunscreens have a warning “do not use for children under 6 months old” or “for children under 6 months old consult a pediatrician”. We live in South California and NOT wearing a sunscreen is simply not an option, especially now in summer. I’m trying to be outside with the baby every day, so I wanted to understand WHY are sunscreens supposed to be that bad for babies. This is what FDA says:

“Babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults.” (…) “Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen.” (source)

AHA! It’s the chemicals! Well, I have checked some baby products in our pharmacy isle and here are two labels just to illustrate a point:

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These two baby products (that are for DAILY use) contain a handful of ingredients that are not safe for adults, let alone children (hormone disruptors being the most questionable ingredients). But there was no warning to consult a pediatrician before use! Hmmm….. While I appreciate the FDA’s concern over baby sunscreens, I know there are some, that are much healthier than the products that the hospitals send young mothers home with as freebies!

Your best bet:

Visit EWG’s Skindeep Database (EWG is a nonprofit Environmental Working Group independently testing product safety) to check your product’s ingredients safety and find best options for yourself and your baby. There are lots of options and an organic sunscreen doesn’t always mean zinc-white skin or super thick formula. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Also check out the sunscreen DON’Ts here and COVER UP! And yes, follow the safe-sun tips from FDA:)

 

  • Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.
  • If you do use a small amount of sunscreen on your baby, don’t assume the child is well protected.
  • Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense; if you hold the fabric against your hand and it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.
  • Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides sufficient shade at all times.
  • Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.
  • Hydrate! Give your baby formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.
  • Take note of how much your baby is urinating. If it’s less than usual, it may be a sign of dehydration, and that more fluids are needed until the flow is back to normal.
  • Avoid combination sunscreens containing insect repellants like DEET. Young children may lick their hands or put them in their mouths. According to the AAP, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
  • If you do notice your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the affected areas.
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