Baby sunscreen: What's recommended?

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Baby sunscreen: What's recommended?

Question

Is it OK for a baby to wear sunscreen?

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Answer

Baby sunscreen recommendations differ for infants younger and older than 6 months. Consider these general guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society:

  • For babies younger than 6 months. If your baby is younger than 6 months, keep him or her out of direct sunlight. Protect your baby from sun exposure by dressing him or her in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses. If adequate clothing and shade aren't available, apply sunscreen only on small areas of your baby's exposed skin, such as the face and back of the hands.
  • For babies 6 months or older. If your baby is 6 months or older, liberally use sunscreen. In addition, avoid exposing your baby to the sun during peak hours — generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and dress your baby in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses.

When choosing baby sunscreen, pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. To avoid irritating your baby's skin and eyes, use a sunscreen that contains only inorganic filters, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Avoid using products that combine sunscreen and the insect repellent DEET, since sunscreen must be regularly reapplied and insect repellent typically doesn't need to be reapplied. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if your baby is spending time in the water or perspiring.

Remember, just a few serious sunburns can increase your baby's risk of skin cancer later in life. Taking simple steps now can go a long way toward protecting your baby from the risks of sun exposure.

Last Updated: 2011-09-27
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