Should You Slather Your Baby With SPF?

There are so many different opinions about whether or not you should apply sunscreen on young babies. But one thing is for certain – with the summer weather heating up, you need to protect baby’s delicate skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Baby girl on the beach

To sunscreen or not to sunscreen

The debate over whether or not to use sunscreen on infants lies mainly in the fact that there are chemicals in nearly every type of sunscreen, whether it’s intended for young babies or not.

For an older child or an adult, the exposure to these chemicals does not usually prove harmful, but it could to young babies because they have a high body surface to volume ratio. Say what? That means they have more skin for their body size than an adult does. (Weird, right?)

There is another reason you should not apply sunscreen all over a young baby’s skin, however. Because babies' ability to keep their bodies cool by sweating is not that great at such a young age, too much sunscreen can inhibit their ability to sweat, causing the baby to become dehydrated or sick.

Expert advice

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that sunscreen should still be used on a baby if there are no other options for protecting his skin from the sun: "For babies younger than six months, use sunscreen on small areas of the body such as the face and the backs of the hands if protective clothing and shade are not available. If the sunscreen irritates her skin, try a different brand or try a sunscreen stick, or sunscreen or sunblock with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If a rash develops, talk to your child's doctor."

Cover up, baby!

The good news is there are sooo many cute protective swim products out there for babies. If you can’t keep your baby out of the direct sunlight, be sure to slather up the AAP’s suggested areas and don baby’s head with a hat and his eyes with sunglasses and cover him up in swim shirts, shorts or simply a light, breathable blanket.

More on sun protection for kids

Sun protection hats for baby with UV protective fabric
Baby eyes need summer sun protection
Five baby dangers of summer: Keep your baby safe

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