Mother applying sunscreen on her newborn at the beach.

When the warmer months roll around, there are a ton of outdoor activities to look forward to. Pools, vacations, and outside family time are some of the best things to experience with your little one. But there are definitely a few precautions you need to take to protect their delicate skin from harmful UV rays. Here’s the lowdown on how to keep your little one safe from the sun this summer.

Keep Young Babies in the Shade

Little ones under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun to protect their skin, and also to prevent heat stroke. Make sure you have a good source of shade (umbrellas, stroller hood), and try to avoid being outside too often during the hours of 10 am–2 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest

Cover Up with Cool Clothes

Dress your little one in breathable materials (like lightweight cotton) that cover as much skin as possible. We’re talking long pants, long sleeves, and even a wide brim sun hat. This is good advice for you too, mama.

Age Matters

Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens are recommended for little ones over two months old, while other types of sunscreen (such as those containing oxybenzone) are safe for babies over six months of age. But keep in mind—if you’re outside (in direct OR indirect sunlight) it’s ok to use a bit of sunscreen for protection if there are small areas of your younger baby’s skin that are exposed (feet, back of neck, etc.). Better safe than sunburnt.

Read the Label

When choosing a sunscreen for your little one, look for the following: 

  • Protects against UVA and UVB: the label must specifically say that it protects against both of these harmful rays to be proven and trustworthy.
  • SPF 30-50: SPF (Sun Protection Factor) up to 50 is great for most babies (and the rest of the family, too!)
  • Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide: these are physical barriers that do the best job protecting your baby’s skin by reflecting harmful rays away (and are great for sensitive areas like the face, tops of ears, shoulders). Since they sit on top of the skin, they won’t rub in the whole way and can make your babies skin look a little white. But this is the good stuff working. This type of sunscreen is approved for babies over two months of age.
  • Consider oxybenzone: the American Academy of Pediatrics advises avoiding sunscreens with oxybenzone if possible, and reach for the physical barrier sunscreens mentioned above. But keep in mind—any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone are approved for babies over six months old. 

Timing is Important

To give baby’s skin time to absorb the sunscreen, be sure to apply 15-30 minutes before heading outside. Reapply every two hours, and after swimming or toweling off to ensure your baby’s skin remains protected.

Keep Baby Comfortable 

If your baby doesn’t love being slathered in sunscreen, they simply might be too cold. Think about the temperature of the sunscreen as compared to their little bodies, and ensure they aren’t underneath a fan or a vent that could cause an evaporative cooling effect while you’re applying it.

We know there’s a lot to think about when you’re a mama, but sun safety should be at the top of your list during the warmer months. Do your best to keep your little one shaded and sunscreened, and most importantly—enjoy time outside with your family!