At What Age Can A Baby Wear Sunscreen?

Posted on August 13, 2021
Catherine Hufton

If you’ve just had a baby, you’re probably in awe of just how soft their skin is. You might also be a little apprehensive as to how to care for such a delicate canvas—especially in the summer months when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are stronger and it’s easier to burn.

So, at what age can a baby wear sunscreen, and how can you make sure their skin is protected without causing irritation? Here we take a look at when you should start applying sunscreen to children, as well as general sun safety for babies.

Sun Safety for Babies
According to Mayo Clinic, you can apply sunscreen to babies six months and older. Babies under six months have extremely delicate skin and should not be exposed to direct sunlight at all. This guidance is particularly relevant around 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest­. At these times especially, babies should be kept safely in the shade.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends dressing babies in light, breathable clothes that cover the arms and legs, as well as a sun hat to protect their neck. Attaching a parasol to your stroller, or pulling up the canopy to create shade, can also help ensure their skin is protected from direct sunlight when you’re on the move.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen
As with any skin care product you apply to your baby, it’s important to look for minimalist, gentle formulas that are safe to use on the most delicate of skin. Your sunscreen should also be broad-spectrum and have a minimum SPF of 30. Most sunscreens marked as baby and child-friendly, such as EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47, are gentle and effective.

Once you’ve chosen a sunscreen for your baby, it’s vital that you apply it liberally. Be generous. Ensure their face, ears, head, and body are completely covered. Don’t forget to also protect more delicate areas of their face, such as their lips, with a targeted sunscreen stick or balm. Re-apply at least every two hours. If you’re worried about losing track of time, set an alarm on your phone to remind you, and don’t forget to keep baby hydrated with breast milk or formula.

Safe Ingredients
When it comes to sun safety for babies, it’s helpful to become familiar with a few common sunscreen ingredients and understand their purpose. You’ll find the natural mineral compound zinc oxide, for instance, in EltaMD’s child-friendly mineral sunscreens, as it reflects and scatters UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide, another natural and commonly used mineral, also works by reflecting and scattering UV radiation from the surface of the skin.

Both are deemed safe to use on babies, but you can also refer to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a comprehensive list of approved ingredients. Fragrance, oil, and parabens are usually best avoided as they may cause irritation.

Year-Round Protection
So, should you only worry about sun protection in the summer or on very sunny days? The short answer is no. The sun’s UV rays (UVA in particular) can cause long-term damage to a baby’s skin year-round—not just when it’s sunny outside or you’re on vacation—and can even penetrate clouds and glass. Bear this in mind when you’re out and about, taking care to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to any areas of exposed skin.

Now that you know a little more about sun safety and at what age can a baby wear sunscreen, you should feel more confident about caring for their delicate skin. Pop a bottle of sunscreen in your baby bag, and enjoy the great outdoors.