Infants and children have sensitive skin and can get sunburned fairly easily. Doctors worry about this because multiple sunburns in childhood are a risk factor for skin cancer. Plus, sunburns hurt! Here are some tips to help you protect your child’s skin from the sun:

  • Use a Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or Higher: SPF stands for “sun protection factor.” Studies suggest that once you hit an SPF of 30, the higher SPFs have only marginally better sun protection and can give the user a false sense of security. For example, it’s been shown that an SPF of 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. That’s only a 1 percent difference! More research is needed on this topic, though.

    Insider Info: Back in the day, the AAP said babies under 6 months should NOT use sunscreen (because of the potential for skin irritation). The AAP has changed its tune, however, and now gives sunscreen the thumbs-up for all ages.1
  • Be Mindful of the Hour. Peak sun hours are between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Consider planning outdoor activities for “off-peak” hours.
  • Put Your Kiddo in Sun Protective (SPF-Infused) Clothing.
  • Apply Sunscreen Every 2 Hours AND After Water Play and Sweating.
  • Accessorize. Have your child rock a pair of sunglasses (with at least 99% UV protection) AND wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Know that Sun Reflection is a Thing. If you’re hitting the slopes with your child, don’t forget the sunscreen (since sunlight reflects off snow). Also, remember to apply sunscreen even when it’s cloudy or when your child is in the shade.

The Top 5 Tips for How to Choose a Sunscreen:

1. Pick a “Broad-Spectrum” Sunscreen That Protects Against Both UVA and UVB Rays (Most Do).

2. Select a Sunscreen With an SPF of 30 or Higher.

3. Invest in a Sunscreen That’s Free of Potentially Harmful Chemicals Such as Oxybenzone, Parabens, and Phthalates.

4. Opt for a “Mineral” Sunscreen. The two main ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Although mineral sunscreens tend to be thicker than non-mineral sunscreens, they have fewer chemicals. In addition, they sit on top of the skin and physically block the sun’s rays, whereas chemical sunscreens work by soaking into the skin and absorbing the sun’s rays.

5. Be Mindful of Which Form of Sunscreen You Use: For example, be careful when applying sunscreen in spray or stick form. Why? Because it’s easier to miss spots with these types of sunscreen. That’s why dermatologists often prefer sunscreen lotions (even though parents and kids tend to find the sticks and sprays easier to use).


  • Some kids detest sunscreen and treat sunscreen application like it’s a form of torture. Introduce your child to sunscreen early on, so that he/she gets used it.
  • Remember, people of ALL skin types need sunscreen. People with darker skin tones naturally have a smaller risk of skin cancer, but it’s not zero, so sunscreen is still needed.

PediaWise Picks for Sunscreens:

  • ThinkBaby SPF 50+ Baby Sunscreen.

    Pro: Parents say this mineral sunscreen tends to blend into the skin pretty well. It’s vegan and “Leaping Bunny” certified (meaning no animal tests were performed during the development of this sunscreen).
  • Blue Lizard Kid’s Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+.

    Pro:  This sunscreen is made in Australia. It is fragrance free and has a special “Smart Cap” technology. The cap turns from clear to “blue” when it’s exposed to UV rays as a reminder to put on your sunscreen! There’s a baby version too.

For Additional Options, Check Out the Environmental Working Group’s Best Scoring Sunscreens for Kids.

The Bottom Line

Enjoy the pool, the beach and the sun with your child but remember to be mindful of the sun protection tips above.