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Protection from the sun is important for everyone, and that includes your baby. Picking a sunscreen for your child is not always as easy as it is for older children or adults.

Before we move forward, it’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months.

Instead, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends keeping infants out of the sun with umbrellas and protective clothing. This is because they’re more susceptible to the potential side effects of sunscreen, like rashes and chemical absorption, than adults.

In a word, yes. Aside from getting a nasty and painful sunburn, the harmful ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays emitted by the sun can lead to long-term skin damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, skin damage can start to show as early as 4 years old and may eventually lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

It’s important to note that sunscreen isn’t only for the summer months. The sun’s rays still break through cloud cover and can even be enhanced by it.

“Windows doesn’t offer protection. The baby is exposed to the rays while riding in the car.”

What should you look for in a baby sunscreen? Which brands are best for your baby?

Active ingredients

Chemical absorption is a big concern in sunscreens. But zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two Mineral-based. (not chemical-based) physical filters that are normally gentler on the skin because they don’t rely on additional chemicals to provide protection.

While mineral sunscreens are heavier and often leave a chalky appearance, chemical products can irritate the skin, especially if the user has an autoimmune condition.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests avoiding a chemical called oxybenzone, which may have hormonal properties.

It is important to research your own, but there are other common chemical ingredients to avoid. The Environmental Working Group has ratings on sunscreens.

In addition to oxybenzone, the EWG says these common ingredients may not be safe for everyone:

  • An endocrine disruptor.
  • Another disruptor of the hormones.

The European Commission found that the levels of two chemicals in many sunscreens were not safe.

The European Commission recommends that sunscreen manufacturers use concentrations of 6 and 15 percent, but hundreds of sunscreens manufactured in the U.S. use them at concentrations that far exceed that recommendation.

SPF

The amount of exposure to sunlight you can have with a particular sunscreen is what the SPF number is for. SPF can be as low as 15 or as high as 100.

However, most medical experts agree that for babies and adults alike, it’s best to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. While you can opt for higher SPF levels, experts agree that once you go beyond SPF 50, there’s no real enhanced benefit.

UVA rays vs. UVB rays

UV rays are classified according to wavelength.

UVBs are medium length, while UVCs are the shortest.

Premature aging and skin cancer can be caused by all three waves. The skin can be penetrated by UVA rays.

Water resistance

If you think you will be spending time in the water with your child, you should prioritize water resistance. No sunscreen is waterproof despite the claims made.

Sweat and water both erode the efficacy of sunscreen, so the FDA no longer allows companies to make a waterproof claim. Sunscreen is also diminished when you towel off.

The FDA allows sunscreens that are designed for 40- and 80-minute water exposure to claim to be water resistant.

“FDA testing before a sunscreen’s approval determines the time period for water resistance. The amount of time you can expect the sunscreen to work in a pool is the amount of time you can expect.”

Ease of use

Baby sunscreen comes in a range of formulas, including sprays, sticks, and traditional creams, just like with older children or adults.

If you want to apply sunscreen on antsy kids, you can use a stick form. You need to be sure that the product is being applied evenly to all parts of the skin, because sprays are quick.

We chose products that fit the criteria. If you are a regular sunscreen shopper, you know that sunscreen can come in different sizes. We looked at sites that were reliable and included products for all budgets.

We made sure to include some that could be thrown into a bag and applied to your baby last minute or on the go, so that you can use it on the go.

“We looked for products that are safe for babies, that don’t contain harmful ingredients, and that offer broad-spectrum protection.”

Pricing

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best overall baby sunscreen

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 50
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide

A sunscreen stick is going to be easier to apply to your baby than any other kind of sunscreen.

This mineral stick from Aveeno Baby provides SPF 50 protection, is oil-free, and has 80 minutes of water and sweat resistance. Plus, this sunscreen stick features the National Eczema Association’s (NEA) Seal of Acceptance.

This half-ounce size makes it TSA-friendly, but… small. Yes, babies are small, but if you’re looking for a more economical choice, a stick might not be the way to go.

Pros

  • The base is mineral.
  • It was small enough to be travel-friendly.
  • The Seal of Acceptance is from the National Eczema Association.

Cons

  • Applying stick-based sunscreen to the whole body could take a few minutes.

Best hypoallergenic stick formula

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 50
  • Key ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide

This baby sunscreen stick from Neutrogena is a classic that’s proven to work and is widely available at drugstores and online. It’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers one of the highest SPFs (SPF 50), along with 80-minute water resistance. This product, too, has the NEA’s Seal of Acceptance.

The company uses a blend of minerals, including titanium oxide and zinc oxide, in their Purescreen technology. The company website says the minerals are naturally sourced, but it doesn’t give more details on where and how they get specific ingredients. This makes it a great choice for folks worried about sensitivities or allergies.

This stick is a smaller size, at just 0.47 ounces, making it a great option for traveling and slipping into your diaper bag, but it is also quick to run out.

Pros

  • Stick form
  • It is small enough to fit in a carry-on bag or while you are on the go.
  • 50 SPF protection is offered.
  • The base is mineral.

Cons

  • using a sunscreen stick for the whole body could take more time than a lotion or spray-on option

Best spray

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen

  • Price: $$$
  • SPF: 30
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, aloe, sunflower seed oil

It can be difficult to protect children from the sun on a good day. A spray is a great way to make this easier.

This has the lowest SPF in our guide, but it has a vegan-friendly formula that is It is fragrance-free. and has 80 minutes of water. This sunscreen is safe for the reefs. You might like that this formula is made with natural ingredients like scuplng oil, andavocado.

It is easy to make mistakes when using sprays, so you will want to be very thorough when applying this sunscreen. This is a more expensive option than most eco-focused sunscreens.

Pros

  • It includes ingredients that are good for the skin.
  • vegan-friendly formula
  • It is easy to spray on for toddlers or babies.

Cons

  • apply it outside whenever possible, as you could inhale aerosol during use
  • The lowest SPF option on our list.

Best for eczema

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide

“The Aveeno stick is backed by the NEA and is excellent for protecting babies with sensitive skin. It seems that parents are very supportive of this product, as reviews say it is not oily or messy on their kids’ skin and that a little goes a long way.”

The sunscreen is free of fragrances that can cause skin irritation.

“Some reviewers like the scent of not sunscreen-y and claim it made their skin feel soft and soothed their little ones’ eczema. This one gets points for affordability and is under $10 for a 3-ounce tube.”

Pros

  • Reviewers like the consistency of this sunblock.
  • oat can help soothe the skin.
  • It is fragrance-free.

Cons

  • It can be difficult to get along with a toddler.

Best affordable buy

Alba Botanica Tropical Fruit Kids Sunscreen

  • Price: $
  • SPF: 45
  • Key ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, octyl salicylate

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good sunscreen that’s safe for the ocean. The sunscreen from Alba Botanica is less than $10 for a bottle.”

“The formula is lightweight so it doesn’t leave a greasy feeling. It provides 80 minutes of water resistance and all the ingredients are vegetarian.”

However, as the name suggests, this sunscreen does have a fruity scent. If you’re particularly sensitive to smells, you might not want to lather your little one in this.

Pros

  • Reviewers said the formula was lightweight.
  • budget friendly
  • Some parents say that it works well for sensitive skin.

Cons

  • It may not appeal to all.
  • The base is chemical.

Best It is fragrance-free. formula

Babyganics SPF50+ Sunscreen Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Key ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide

If you are a family that is always outdoors, you will want a baby sunscreen that is as safe as possible. The option from Babyganics is a great deal at first glance, but it is sold in two-pack of bottles for less than you would pay for a bottle of wine.

This sunscreen is a traditional cream formula and is free of PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrance, and nanoparticles. It’s also tear-free, offers 80-minute water resistance, and is full of natural ingredients like tomato, sunflower, cranberry, and raspberry seed oils.

While a few of the other sunscreens on our list are It is fragrance-free., it’s tough to beat this one’s price.

Pros

  • PABA, phthalates, and parabens are not included in the product.
  • good deal with two bottles in one package
  • The base is mineral.

Cons

  • Some parents said it was difficult to rub in.

Best eco-friendly formula

Thinkbaby SPF50+ Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50+
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide

“If you plan on swimming in an ocean or lake, you want a baby sunscreen that won’t hurt the wildlife that lives there. This sunscreen is a great choice for parents.”

While it’s one of the pricier options, the EWG rated it a 2. That means it’s one of the best options available, and it has been vetted for potential environmental toxicity.

“This product is water resistant and SPF 50, but it is also cruelty-free, vegan, and doesn’t have an aerosol. Users say it doesn’t leave an oily smell or have a telltale sunscreen smell.”

Pros

  • There is no telltale smell of sunscreen or oily substance.
  • The EWG gave it a rating of well-rated.
  • The base is mineral.

Cons

  • “The bottles that the parents received were close to their expiration dates, meaning the sunscreen wouldn’t have a long shelf life.”

Best for activities

Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 40
  • Key ingredients: zinc oxide, sunflower oil, jojoba oil

This broad-spectrum sunscreen is great for families on the go. The company says that all of their sunscreens can be used on infants over 6 months.

This one has a hint of tangerine and vanilla, which is not bad for a fragrance.

“It is unusual for mineral sunscreens to go on clear. Some children don’t like the appearance of mineral sunscreens.”

Pros

  • Mineral-based.
  • The scent is subtle and sweet.
  • “It is great if you don’t like the appearance of mineral sunscreens.”

Cons

  • The scent may not appeal to everyone.

Best for parents and babies

Hello Bello SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

  • Price: $$
  • SPF: 50
  • Key ingredients: cocoa seed butter, zinc oxide, avocado

This sunscreen is approved for both children and adults. It protects against all three UV lengths for 80 minutes, and it contains soothing and hydrating cocoa seed butter, cucumber, and chamomile, which are great for sensitive or dry skin.

If you are traveling to any exotic beach locale, this sunscreen is clinically tested, and coral reef friendly.

It is one of three scented options. The scent is made from orange peel and a bean. The orange peel is an essential oil that is known for its uplifting, refreshing, and citrus scent.

Pros

  • It can be used for both babies and adults.
  • Cucumber and avocados are some of the ingredients that are soothing.

Cons

  • It may not appeal to all.

Product Price Form Fragrance Active ingredients
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick $ stick no zinc oxide
Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen $ stick no titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen $$$ spray no zinc oxide
Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen $$ lotion no zinc oxide
Alba Botanica Tropical Fruit Kids Sunscreen $ lotion yes avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, and octyl salicylate
Babyganics SPF50+ Sunscreen Lotion $$ lotion no titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
Thinkbaby SPF50+ Sunscreen $$ lotion no zinc oxide
Badger Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream $$ lotion yes zinc oxide
Hello Bello SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen $$ lotion yes zinc oxide

SPF is only a measure of protection against sunburn, which is caused by UVB rays, and it is not the sole reason for sunscreen shopping.

You’ll want to find a sunscreen with an adequate level of SPF that’s also labeled as broad-spectrum. The term “broad-spectrum” means that a sunscreen product is designed to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Can sunscreen for kids be used on an infant?

“We looked for products that could be used on babies. Some kids’ sunscreens are not appropriate for an infant.”

Consult a doctor if your child is younger than 6 months. The FDA and American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents to keep children under 6 months out of direct light. Sunscreen should also be used in addition to hats and other SPF-protective clothing when possible.

Who should use sunscreen?

Babies with sensitive skin need sunscreen more than anyone else. All kids need sun protection.

The top of the ears and back of the neck are places to avoid. These spots are often overlooked by caregivers.

What is the best kind of sunscreen for babies?

A broad-spectrum formula is the best kind. The application method depends on your lifestyle. If you frequently drive, you should get a stick that can be thrown in your bag. If you have a child with the skin disease, you should get a cream that is specially formulated.

There are a wide range of baby sunscreens that can be used for you and your family, depending on your budget, features, and application method.

“Make sure your baby’s sunscreen is at least SPF 30 and meet the minimum guidelines as recommended by medical experts, if you choose any of the options. You will have a lot of fun in the sun if you apply every 2 hours.”