This Is What Your Pediatrician Wants You to Know About Sunscreen for Baby

There’s nothing like sweet baby skin, is there? I so clearly remember especially not being able to get enough of those soft,  round, pink cheeks! I also clearly remember having a record-screeching moment of panic the first time I took my baby into the sun.

Here’s how that went down.

Cute outfit, check. Sunhat, check. Mama freaking out about a sunburn, check and check.

Because baby’s skin is so delicate, my Mama Bear Brain (MBB!) was torn between wanting to avoid a sunburn, of course, but also not wanting to put any extra chemicals on my baby’s skin. Maybe you can relate!

Since avoiding the sun 100% of the time isn’t realistic, I got the skinny on exactly what to do the next time you’re faced with this situation as well.

Anne Hartman, PA-C, is a wife, a mom of three, and has been a Family Medicine Physician Assistant for 11 years.

All that to say, she understands the MBB feelings about sunscreen for baby and she knows what to do about them. She spills it all below.

Pin this post to refer to every summer!

Image via Pixabay/ Paras Seth

Not all sunscreens are created equal.

Hartman explains why it’s so very important to read sunscreen labels. She says, “Many current infant sunscreens have products that contain the ingredient oxybenzone. This is a chemical that is controversial and has been shown in medical studies to have a slight impact on hormones and has allergic-reaction potential. It was also banned in Hawaii as it is destructive to coral reefs.”

So keep your eyes trained to search for that ingredient in your sunscreen! This is especially important for parents with new babies. Hartman explains, “Infants typically have sensitive skin and more natural products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide tend to be better tolerated with good sun protection.”

While I know we’ve all heard how important it is to read labels, I love knowing exactly what I’m looking for so I found this tip to be especially helpful.

Choose sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection (aka broad spectrum) and SPF 30 or higher.

Hartman says that sunscreens with SPF values of 30 and above provide the maximum amount of sun protection. She explains that, “the higher the SPF just means it may protect the skin for a longer amount of time as it stays on the skin longer.” This is so good to know!

She also explains that there’s very limited evidence that SPF over 50 has any additional benefits. So in the  case of SPF, more — or higher — isn’t necessarily better. 

Be careful with spray sunscreens.

This is actually something I’ve wondered about because I love the ease of spray sunscreen so very much, but it really and truly does leave a disconcerting cloud around all who use it! If you’ve had this nagging feeling about spray sunscreens, too, Hartman explains why you should listen to that feeling.

She says, “There’s concern that the mist from inhaled sunscreen poses a risk to lungs. The FDA currently has several studies investigating this issue.” Yikes!

She also says that spray sunscreen has also shown to be less effective regarding coverage on the skin.

So Hartman’s bottom line with this one is this: “It’s probably best to avoid spray sunscreens for infants for both of these reasons.”

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Reapply, reapply, reapply.

Hartman says that a general rule of thumb is that infants should have sunscreen reapplied at least every two hours regardless of SPF and sooner if they have been in water or sweating. I’m thinking that the reapply every two hours rule is one for the whole family to follow!

There’s nothing like creating family memories under the sun. And now, thanks to Hartman, we can all do so sans MMB fear … and without risking sad, and dangerous, baby sunburns!

What do you think?

This Is What Your Pediatrician Wants You to Know About Sunscreen for Baby

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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