When Can Babies Wear Sunscreen? | A Sun Safety Guide
You know the sun’s rays can be harmful, but you aren’t sure your little one is ready for sunscreen. When can babies wear sunscreen? And if they’re not old enough, how can you keep their skin safe when you’re outside?
The Mustela team is here to help you answer these questions and more. We’ll look at sunscreen age recommendations and safe sun practices for newborns and older babies. Then, we’ll teach you how to use sunscreen like a pro.
Table Of Contents
- When Can Babies Wear Sunscreen?
- Safe Sun Practices For Babies
- How To Apply Sunscreen On Babies
- How Much Sunscreen Should Babies Wear?
- What To Look For In Sunscreen For Babies
When Can Babies Wear Sunscreen?
Newborns have delicate skin. Because of this, most experts recommend waiting until your baby is six months old before regularly applying sunscreen.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping young babies out of direct sunlight as much as possible. They also encourage using protective clothing and sticking to shady areas outside.
However, the group acknowledges that sometimes, sun exposure is unavoidable. When this happens, it suggests using sunscreen only on exposed areas. For example, if your new baby is in long sleeves, pants, and a hat, consider putting sunscreen on their face and hands.
Then, when they’re six months old, you can use sunscreen more liberally.
Why Shouldn’t Newborns Wear Sunscreen?
The ingredients found in some sunscreen products (such as perfume) can irritate sensitive baby skin and cause a rash or another type of reaction.
In addition, newborns don’t have all their melanin, the skin’s natural pigment that offers some protection from the sun’s rays. Until this develops, babies are especially sensitive to ultraviolet rays. They can get sunburned much quicker than an older baby or an adult.
That’s why the best practice is to keep them out of the sun as much as possible. Sunscreen may give you a false sense of safety and cause them to get too much exposure or irritate their skin.
Thus, most experts agree newborns shouldn’t wear sunscreen unless sun exposure is unavoidable.
Safe Sun Practices For Babies
Now that you know the standard recommendations for when babies can wear sunscreen, let’s look at some practical, safe sun practices you can adopt for little ones of all ages.
As already established, sun safety for newborns is all about avoidance. This means keeping your baby out of direct sunlight.
When you go outside, dress your baby in lightweight clothing and add a wide-brimmed hat to help keep their face out of the sun. Consider using a stroller or car seat with a canopy to provide additional shade.
If direct sunlight is unavoidable, apply a small amount of baby-friendly sunscreen to exposed areas of the skin. And when you go back inside, gently wash it off to remove any residue.
6 Months And Up
Once your baby turns six months old, their skin has had a chance to adjust to the world outside the womb. It’s better developed and is ready for more frequent sunscreen use.
Before heading outside, take time to apply baby-friendly sunscreen. We’ll cover what to look for when you’re picking a product in a bit.
When putting sunscreen on your little one, pay special attention to often-forgotten areas, like the nose, back of the neck, and top of the head. Go slowly so you don’t get sunscreen into your baby’s eyes or mouth.
After applying, keep an eye on the clock. Sunscreen eventually wears off, and you must reapply it every two hours to keep your child safe. A timer on your phone is a simple way to stay on schedule.
Also, remember that even though your child is wearing sunscreen, it’s still best to keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Select clothing options that offer maximum protection and stay in the shade when you can. This way, you can avoid painful sunburns.
How To Apply Sunscreen On Babies
Sunscreen is an important part of sun safety for older babies and everyone else. But applying sunscreen on a squirming baby isn’t for the faint of heart.
Here are some tips to help make the process easier.
Read The Label
Sunscreen only works when it’s applied correctly. And since every brand of sunscreen is slightly different, it’s essential to read the label before use. That way, you can ensure proper protection from the sun.
Always Apply On Dry Skin
If you try to put sunscreen on damp skin, it won’t absorb properly. So if your little one is wet or sweaty, dry them off before rubbing on more.
Decide Which Application Method Is Best
You can get sunscreen in a few different forms. It comes as a spray, stick, and lotion.
Each type has pros and cons, so consider getting an SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Set from Mustela. It has one of each, so you can try them all.
Then, you can use the spray to quickly apply sunscreen over most of your baby’s body. However, since you can’t spray sunscreen directly on their face, you can switch to the lotion for that area.
Apply On Their Hands Last
In the time it takes you to blink, your baby can shove their hand in their mouth. They could easily rub some in their eyes, too, while you’re busy trying to sunscreen the rest of them.
To avoid this, put sunscreen on their hands last. Then, gently hold onto them until the sunscreen has absorbed for a few minutes and is less likely to transfer from one place to another.
How Much Sunscreen Should Babies Wear?
Newborns should wear the least amount of sunscreen possible. When you need to apply it, use a small amount on the exposed areas of their body.
As they get older, it’s safer to apply sunscreen all over. At this point, plan on using about ½ an ounce to cover their entire body, plus a bit more for their face.
What To Look For In Sunscreen For Babies
Babies need a sunscreen that’s formulated for their sensitive skin. You’ll want to look for three key things when deciding which brand to buy.
Broad Spectrum Protection
The sun emits two types of harmful rays, UVA and UVB. Look for a sunscreen that offers protection from both.
You should see "Broad Spectrum" or "UVA/UVB" on the label. If you don’t, it’s likely that your baby won’t be fully protected.
Mineral Sunscreen Instead Of Chemical
Speaking of protection: Sunscreen can be divided into two main categories, chemical and mineral. As the name suggests, chemical sunscreen uses ingredients that cause a chemical reaction, absorbing the UV rays and turning them into heat.
Mineral sunscreen works differently. It uses ingredients like zinc oxide to form a protective barrier on your skin. When UV rays hit this barrier, they’re reflected away.
Since babies have delicate skin, mineral sunscreen is the better option. The product sits on top of the skin instead of absorbing into it. Plus, many mineral sunscreens (like the ones from Mustela) are hypoallergenic, so they’re less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
The Right SPF
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It indicates how much of the sun’s UVB rays the product will absorb or reflect. However, SPF 30 doesn’t block twice as much as SPF 15. Instead, scientists devised a special formula to calculate the SPF value.
According to the formula, an SPF of 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays. When you increase to SPF 50, it blocks 98%. Keep in mind that no sunscreen protects against 100% of the sun’s rays.
Keeping Your Baby Safe In The Sun
So when can babies wear sunscreen? It’s best to keep them out of the sun until they’re six months old. At that point, you can use a baby-friendly sunscreen, like the Suncare Products from Mustela.
To protect your little one’s skin, avoid direct sunlight whenever possible and use lightweight, long sleeve clothes, wide-brimmed hats, and the canopy on their car seat or stroller to accomplish this goal.
And if you know that your baby will be exposed to the sun, applying a baby-friendly sunscreen to small parts of their body is OK. That’s where our SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion comes in. It’s perfect for the whole family.
Slather up and enjoy the sunshine together!