As summer starts, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to make their kids’ sun safety a priority. Babies and young children have thinner and more sensitive skin that is more vulnerable to the damaging effects of harmful ultraviolet, or UV, radiation.
By encouraging good sun protection practices early in life, you can help safeguard your children from skin damage, such as sunburn, and aging, such as wrinkles.
It’s vital to protect little ones while they’re playing in the sun, because reducing the risk of sunburn during early childhood can significantly lower the risk of developing skin cancer. Just a few blistering sunburns can double the risk of developing serious forms of skin cancer later in life.
Sun protection for babies
For babies under 6 months old, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests they stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Their delicate skin is not yet protected by melanin. And since the health effects of sunscreen chemicals on babies have not been well studied, it’s best to avoid using SPF products on them.
The most effective form of sun protection for babies is to keep them indoors during peak sunlight hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. When outside, use carriers and strollers with a canopy or hood, and remember an umbrella to create shade and avoid harmful UV rays.
When they will be out in the sun, dress your baby in tightly woven, loose-fitting clothes that cover their arms and legs, including wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
Infants more than 6 months old, toddlers and children
For babies and infants over 6 months of age, choose mineral-based, chemical-free sunscreens. Those made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are safe for this age group.
Learn to recognize the signs of sunburn, such as pain and redness on the skin. If you notice those signs on your young one, take them inside or to a shaded area. Then take immediate steps to help them feel more comfortable.
And watch for signs of dehydration, such as fussiness, excessive crying and swelling. To keep children hydrated when they’re outdoors, offer fluids regularly.
To ensure proper sun protection for toddlers and young children, apply sunscreen on skin that’s exposed. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label.
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF between 30 to 50, and consider using a mineral-based SPF product without ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction, such as fragrance.
Remember to apply sunscreen generously and reapply it often, especially if your child is playing in water or sweating. Keep an eye on the time and reapply every two hours.
When possible, avoid aerosol or spray sunscreens. They can pose harm to the respiratory system and might be contaminated with cancer-causing benzene.
Try to avoid sunscreens that contain ingredients of concern, such as oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.
Sun protection year-round
For their health and well-being, little ones need sun protection year-round, not just during summer.
Make it a habit for your kids to wear sunscreen with SPF between 30 to 50 whenever they're outside, no matter the time of year.
Best sunscreens marketed for kids
With our commitment to transparency and consumer well-being, this summer we’ve raised the bar by offering sunscreens bearing the EWG VERIFIED mark. Parents and caregivers can be confident that the products they’re using on their kids – and themselves – are free from chemicals of concern.
The best sunscreens marketed for kids:
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Face, Unscented, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Tropical, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Kids, Unscented, SPF 30
- Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
Top-rated sunscreens for babies and children
For more good options, check EWG’s top-rated sunscreens for babies and kids:
- 3rd Rock Sunblock Sunscreen Lotion, Infant, SPF 35
- Adorable Baby Natural Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- All Good Kid's Sunscreen Butter Stick, SPF 50+
- ATTITUDE Baby & Kids Sunscreen Lotion, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
- ATTITUDE Oatmeal Sensitive Natural Baby Care Kids Sunscreen Lotion, Unscented, SPF 30
- Babo Botanicals Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
- Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Stick, Fragrance Free, SPF 50
- Badger Baby Mineral Sunscreen Cream, Chamomile & Calendula, SPF 40
- Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream, Tangerine & Vanilla, SPF 40
- Badger Kids Mineral Face Sunscreen Stick, Tangerine & Vanilla, SPF 35
- Banana Boat Kids Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
- Banana Boat Simply Protect Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
- Blue Lizard Kids Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50+
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
- California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
- California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
- Caribbean Sol Natural Sunscreen Lotion, Kid Kare, SPF 30
- Earth Mama Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40
- Earth Mama Uber-Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40
- Earth Mama Baby Face Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 40
- Erbaviva Organic Skincare Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Fresh Monster Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Kids, SPF 30
- Hawaiian Sol Natural Sunscreen Lotion, Kid Kare, SPF 30
- Just Skin Food Baby Beach Bum Sunscreen Stick, SPF 31
- MADE OF Baby & Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Mustela Baby-Child Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
- Olita Kids Mineral Sunscreen Sunstick, SPF 30
- Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Lotion Tin, SPF 30
- Raw Elements Baby + Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
- Star Naturals Baby Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
- SunBioLogic Kids Natural Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
- SunBioLogic Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
- Suntribe Kids Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Vanilla Yum Yum, SPF 30
- Sunumbra Sunkids Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 40
- Supergoop! Sunnyscreen Babies + Kiddos Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Thinkkids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Thinkbaby Body and Face Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
- Thinkbaby Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Thinkbaby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- Thinksport Body and Face Sunscreen Stick, Kids, SPF 30
- Thinksport Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, Kids, SPF 30
- TruBaby Water & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
- TruKid Sunny Days Daily Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Trukid Eczema Daily Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Tubby Todd Bath Co Baby Mineral Sunstick, SPF 30
- VIVAIODAYS Baby & Kids Sunscreen Lotion with Turmeric, SPF 30
- Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Vitamin E + D Enriched Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 35