Summer is here! As parents, we need to restock our own sunscreen as well as our baby’s sunscreen. With all of the sunscreen choices out there, you may be wondering what makes the best sunscreen and what is the safest SPF for babies?
For babies under 6 months old, it is recommended to avoid direct and prolonged sun exposure. For these young babies under 6 months old, sunscreen application is not recommended. Rather, it is recommended to seek shade, to use sun protective clothing, to use an umbrella, and to practice sun avoidance all together.
Once your babies are 6 months old or older, you can slather them with sunscreen. You want the best and safest sunscreen for your baby so consider these few tips in helping you find the right sunscreen for your baby.
Tip #1: The safest and best SPF for babies
- Stick with SPF 30+. If you need a specific number to look for in deciding what SPF for baby to use, choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 to 50. SPF 30 offers the necessary protection against the harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. SPF 30 means 97% coverage so that is why higher SPFs beyond SPF 30 are not so necessary. Using a higher SPF only offers a small amount of added protection.
- It is thought that the marketing of higher SPFs for babies past SPF 30 offers a false sense of security to consumers. One application of a sunscreen with SPF 80 is not better than application of a sunscreen with SPF 30 with consistent reapplication.
- Look for Broad spectrum! Broad spectrum means both UVA and UVB coverage while SPF means UVB coverage. Instead of focusing on a higher SPF for baby, focus on re-slathering on the sunscreen every 1 ½ to 2 hours and after water exposure. Re-slathering the sunscreen is key!
- Your sunscreen label should say “Broad spectrum, SPF 30+”.
Tip #2: Choose a non-chemical, mineral-based sunscreen
- The best sunscreen for babies and kids are chemical-free sunscreens. A chemical-free sunscreen is one in which the active ingredients are not chemicals but minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are physical blockers of both UVA and UVB rays. Since they are not chemicals, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are non-irritating to baby’s skin and gentler on the eyes. Keep using these best sunscreens for babies from baby to toddler years because of this low irritation. Watch out for nanoparticle-sized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide because of the concern of absorption through the skin to the rest of the body. Rather, micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are best. The micronized versions will leave a whitish residue on the skin after application. Seeing white is what you want!
Tip #3: Be cautious with the inactive ingredients
- Inactive ingredients give the sunscreen product the “feel” of the product. Even though natural seems better, be cautious of sunscreens with “natural” ingredients. Some natural ingredients can actually be photoallergic or phototoxic. Examples of plant based ingredients leading to a photoallergic or phototoxic reaction are lime, lemon oil, orange oils, parsnip, parsley, and celery. Remember these as you’re browsing through the ingredients on the label because the best sunscreen for babies and kids will stay away from using these ingredients.
- Look for these natural ingredients in your sunscreen: shea butter, coconut oil, carrot extract, and jojoba seed oil.