By now, the risk of too much sun exposure has been drilled into our heads. Nearly everyone I know either applies sunscreen as part of their morning routine or regularly keeps sunscreen within arms' reach. If you have a new baby, especially during the months of summer sun, it's important to know the rules and guidelines for sunscreen on babies.
Leading health and safety organizations offer the following recommendations on sunscreen usage in infants/babies under 6 months of age:
From the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pediatrician Hari Cheryl Sachs, MD:
“Babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults. Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater, increasing the risk of side effects from the sunscreen. The best protection is to keep your baby in the shade, if possible."
From the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
"For babies younger than 6 months: Use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face, if protective clothing and shade are not available."
From the Mayo Clinic:
"Sunscreen is OK to use on babies older than 6 months. Younger babies should use other forms of sun protection. The best way to protect babies from the sun is to keep them in the shade as much as possible."
The Bottom Line?
The concern with using sunscreen in babies under 6 months of age is that we don't know the extent of the effects from sunscreen's absorption into the bloodstream. Chemical sunscreens, which make up the bulk of sunscreens found on the shelves in both spray and lotions, contain ingredients that enter the skin while physical sunscreens (that are made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) provide a barrier from the sun by sitting on top of the skin. To date, no studies have been performed to measure the level of sunscreen chemical absorption in children, but it is believed that the absorption is the same or greater than in adults because of their higher body surface area to weight ratio. (Source)
Until further studies are performed, the AAP recommends using sunscreens made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide on children, which are generally regarded as safe. Of course, for babies under 6 months, using sunscreen is only recommended when shade is not available.
Shade Suggestions for Infants
To keep your sweet little baby made in the shade, consider using one or more of the following options:
- Pop-up sun shade tent/canopy
- Stroller with canopy and/or shade attachments
- Infant safe hat
Parents often get creative and create their own shade accessories for baby, which is cost effective and clever! Be aware, no matter what you use to help shade your baby (homemade or store bought), to keep baby's breathing area is safe and free from obstruction. Never leave baby unattended in the shade.
For more tips on keeping baby cool in the summer heat, check out this article on the blog.
TagsBaby Care Infant Safety Sunscreen Infant Accessories Skin Care for Babies