When my now 5 and 9 year old twins were young, sun screen before 6 months was a huge no-no —now the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending sunscreen for infants under 6 months because the risk of skin cancer outweighs the concern over possible irritation of the skin. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“For babies younger than 6 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”
How to Choose Sunscreen?
- First and foremost, choose one that you will use! In our house, smells and textures have led to individual preferences for each of the kids (and even different sunscreen for the face). Make sure you’ll use it!
- Choose a sunscreen that says “broad-spectrum” which means blocking UVA and UVB rays.
- The SPF (sun protection factor) should be at least 15, the higher the better. There is a new UVA rating system with the following categories you’ll see on the market:
- One star is low UVA protection.
- Two stars is medium protection.
- Three stars is high protection.
- Four stars is the highest UVA protection available in an over-the-counter sunscreen product.
- Look for zinc oxide containing sunblock for sensitive areas such as the cheeks/nose, shoulders, top of ears and the top of the feet (my sore spot every summer—the zinc helps it to stay a little visible so you know when it is time to apply more.
How to Use Sunscreen
- As mentioned above, for babies 0-6 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.
- For babies 6 months and older & toddlers, cover all exposed areas and rub in well. Pay close attention to the ears, face, nose, and (the area most forgotten!) the top of the feet. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors to give time for the sunscreen to bind and absorb into to the skin.
- Reapply every 2 hours or even more frequently after swimming or excessive sun exposure.
- Remember sun exposure in winter also exposes skin to harmful rays—a good practice to use every time you’re engaging in outside activity.