Baby Sunscreen: The Smart Mama’s Guidebook

A Smart Mama's Guidebook to Choosing a Baby Sunscreen I’m not a big “Let’s Freak Out Over Nothing” kind of mother.

But sometimes a few horns need to be honked.  

Check out what the Skin Cancer Foundation says…

  • Just ONE blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
  • 22% of all children will get a sunburn in their first summer of life.
  • 45% of all children will get a sunburn in their second summer of life.

For those of you playing along, that means that 67% of all children in the US will have experienced a sunburn before the age of 3.  A sunburn that will more than double their chances of getting skin cancer later as an adult.

Yowzers.  Not cool.

It leaves me flabbergasted.  (And a little paranoid about sun safety. 🙂 )

So what’s a mom to do?

Stay hidden in the shadows of our homes everytime the sun shines?  Hiding away and pretty much rolling out a welcome mat for PPD? (We need those warm rays, sister, to help us conquer the hormonal rodeo!)

Or do we step out into the sun Edward-Cullen-style and shimmer like some nuclear glitter disaster? 

To make it even worse (because why not?), if your baby is less than 6 months old you’ve got a few other things to worry about.

Newborns have sensitive skin.  Using a normal store-bought sunscreen on a newborn increases your baby’s chances of having a reaction.

The “surface area of skin” to “body weight” ratio is much higher in infants.   This means that the chemicals in sunscreen have that much more opportunity to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

They have a lot less melanin.  Melanin is the skin pigment that gives color to skin, hair, and eyes and provides some measure of protection. Without this natural protection they are quite vulnerable to Mr. Sun’s damaging effects.  (BTW, it doesn’t matter how dark-skinned your baby is.)

What does all this mean?

Basically, you shouldn’t use baby sunscreen on a baby under 6 months old.  (Yes, it seems rather oxymoronic.)

It also means their skin doesn’t have any strong natural defenses against the sun.

Adding those two things together, 99.9% of the experts are going to tell you to start a Hermit colony at home and stare out the window knitting until your baby is past the 6-month mark.

I however, am going to prove my rebelliousness yet again and say PISH POSH APPLESAUCE.

You’ve got stuff to do.

Instead of hunkering down to practically apply what you’ve learned from Knitting with Dog Hair: Better a Sweater From a Dog You Know and Love Than From a Sheep You’ll Never Meet , let me offer a few suggestions to get you and your newborn safely out of the house.

(That actually is a real book – go ahead and search for it on Amazon.)

The Anti-Sun Cheat Sheet for Taking Newborns Outdoors

Sun Cheat #1:  Timing is Everything

Run errands, take your walks, garden, and meet friends for an alfresco cappuccino with your newborn in the car seat.

Just do it before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m.

Basically, avoid the midday sun when the UV rays are strongest. Click here for an instant UV check of what the index is in your area today.

Sun Cheat #2:  Dress (Your Baby) For Success

Dress your infant in clothing that covers his limbs. Be sure it is lightweight (when warm outside) but tight-weave so it really blocks those pesky UV rays.  This sunsuit will cover all your bases.

Sun Cheat #3:  Parasol Your Prince or Princess

Give your newborn the royal treatment by making sure that he is constantly covered by something.

Use an umbrella of some sort on your trips outdoors and bring that shade with you wherever you go.

Better yet, use a portable UV-protective sun bed like this one.  It’s handy outside AND indoors for Grandma/Grandpa trips and July 4th picnics!

Sun Cheat #4:  Uncover the Wonders of a Wide-Brimmed Hat

Bonnets are cute, but they’re not much use against the UV Monster.

Look for a sun hat with a wide-brim that will cover the head, neck, and ears.  This hat-style is an adorable blend of all the coverage your infant needs.

Sun Cheat #5:  Tint Those Windows Like a Boss

If you’re going to be traveling for any length of time, help your baby out by putting a tint on the back windows.

If your windows aren’t already tinted, you’ve got the see this window shade.  They are beyond cool because…

  • They fit around the entire door, so you don’t have to mess with those *whistle/bleep* suction cup crappy window shades.
  • They let you roll down the window and still shade your baby – so if you’re trying to keep him awake for naptime, or to distract him from crying, the ‘ole “magic window trick” can still be used! *highfive*

Your FREE Label-Hunting Cheat Sheet

If your baby is older than 6 months and those newborn days are behind you (sob!), it’s time to slather on the sunscreen as a party of your daily routine.

The main challenge here is knowing which of the 18 zillion baby sunscreens out there, you want to slather on.  (Remember! What gets slathered on, eventually soaks in!)

I sense an infographic coming…

The Smart Mama's Guide to Baby Sunscreen - Cheat Sheet @ #baby #sunscreen

Click here to download a larger version of this graphic.

Three Smart-Buy Baby Sunscreens

For those of you who’d rather not go hunting for your own sunscreen in the forest of options, here are a few personal favorites you can grab at Amazon.  (I’m a prime member, so all my purchases are shipped for free in two days or less – one of many great benefits!)

Gold-Star Winner:  Think Baby Sunscreen

  • First Sunscreen to pass the Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements
  • Rated 5-stars by over 340 parents
  • Highest level of water resistance (80 minutes)
  • SPF: 50
  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide
  • Order it here.

Silver Choice:  Adorable Baby Sunscreen

  • 100% Natural
  • Comes as a stick or as a lotion.
  • SPF: 30
  • Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide
  • Order it here.

Bronze Option:  Aveeno Baby Mineral Block

  • 100% Natural
  • A stick for squirmy faces
  • SPF: 50
  • Active ingredient: Titanium Dioxide
  • Order it here.

Sun Safety – Inside and Out

Besides keeping your baby’s skin safely protected, you have Keep your baby hydrated.


Breastfeed more often.  Offer a bottle more than you think you should.

Dehydration is the #1 hospitalizer of children under 3.  Keep those fluids a-flowin’.  

Protect your baby on the outside AND on the inside.

What are your favorite “I’m going to take this child outdoors and the rest of you 99.9% experts can shove it” tips? 🙂

I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Meet Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007.  She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like,, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others.  If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.  


 I ♥ honesty. Affiliate links may be present. (See what this means.)
A Smart Mama's Guidebook to Choosing a Baby Sunscreen

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  1. savannah says:

    Love this… For those of us in Florida, the sun has been out for months! I refuse to keep my little one inside everyday, all day! We use the honest company’s stick sunscreen and love it! Thanks for all the tips

  2. Hi Heather,
    I love your site. You have great advice and a fun writing style.
    I have a math concern with the beginning of this article. Unless the two groups are mutually exclusive, the 22% and 45% does not result in 67%. Some of the 45 may have also been included in the 22 resulting in overlap.
    Thank you again for great posts and advice!

    • Thanks Amy – I did think about that, but the research sounded like they had already excluded Group A (in the first year) in the 2nd year. Please feel free to look through that citation and let me know if you think I read it wrong, but that’s what it came across to me. I would be happy to revise that number…it’s a toughie.

  3. I need to get the sunblock for Owen, he is less fussy and sleeps like a champ at nap time and bedtime if he gets outside play. I prefer play at Grammys house, grassy and shady but our house is nicer (central ac) but no trees :-(. Thanks for cheat sheets! Great advice for both boys (2 mo & 18 mo)

  4. Thanks for the info, especially the recommendation about the car window shade; it looks super useful. Your articles are always funny too :). However, I do want to point out that a “blistering” sunburn is not an ordinary sunburn where your skin peels, it’s a pretty severe sunburn. I believe plenty of babies have had a sunburn by their second summer, but probably a much smaller percentage have had a blistering one.

  5. I would like to say that the car window covers mentioned above have no mention of UV protection. So even though its shady in the car, whoever is in the backseat can still get those nasty UVA and UVB rays. Also, a great sunscreen that really needs more write ups is: Blue Lizard. There are baby products and adult. The top of the bottle even changes color when UVA rays are present. Sold online mostly, like their website or Amazon. (Its an Australian Company, but is sold in some stores around the USA). Heres a link: And one more thing, The EWG’s website is the absolute best site to compare or get the rating on the sunscreen you use on your child or yourself. Everyone should bookmark this, so you can go back every summer and look up new or older products: Have a great summer!

  6. I purchased those car window covers mentioned above after reading this article, and let me tell you they have saved my toddlers traveling days in the summertime! My LO HATES when the sun is in her eyes or when her car seat is too hot. These babies keep the car cooler and prevent baby buckle burns when my LO is climbing into her car seat. They also BLOCK out the sun! It might as well be night in that back seat! I will say if you buy them wash them first (there have been reports of car staining when it rains) and also drive with caution these screens are difficult to see out of when driving.

    • Jenny Andrus says:

      Dear Alisha,

      I am so glad to hear that! Thanks for commenting so that others can benefit.


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