Beginnings Parents Guide recommends sunscreen early and often for children and
parents anytime you are outdoors or riding in a car. But not for babies.
Two reasons: Babies skin is very thin; so it absorbs chemicals more easily than adults.
And babies have a lot of skin for their weight so the chemicals have greater effect.
That means sunscreen on a baby is likely to cause an allergic reaction or swelling or both.
Shade, long sleeves and long pants, and a hat with a wide brim are the answer.
Especially the hat. Make sure it shades Baby’s whole face, ears, and the extra-sensitive
For toddlers, and for Baby when you really cannot keep him out of the sun, test a dab
of sunscreen on his inner wrist. Use SPF* of 15-30. Higher than 30 means more chemicals,
but only a tiny bit more protection. If you see no reaction, apply to small areas that
you cannot cover, like cheeks, hands, and bare feet.
in hot weather. Keep water (not soda
or juice) handy and keep them drinking.
Here is an excellent illustration from the US Food
and Drug Administration.
Download it free to handout or post.
*SPF Sun Protection Factor. It’s a confusing rating.
For a pretty good explanation of how SPF ratings
are set and why that new SPF 100 sunscreen doesn’t
protect much better than 30, see Jeffries, Melissa.
"What do SPF numbers mean?" 16 August 2007.