The 11 best sunscreen for babies and toddlers to protect their delicate skin

best baby sunscreen

by Stephanie Spencer |
Updated on

Protecting your baby's precious skin from the sun is important, and while the best advice is to avoid sun exposure completely, especially in babies under six months, it's still wise to buy the best baby sunscreen for your bubba's delicate skin - you can even get sunscreen for kids with eczema.

Dr Jennifer Crawley is a leading paediatric dermatologist and consultant for Childs Farm. "SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen offers. "It's important to choose a sunscreen with a high SPF – at least 30 – to ensure a good level of protection. I'd recommend involving your child in the application process so it becomes a fun task that you do together rather than a dreaded battle."

A baby's skin has hardly any melanin, which is the pigment that helps protect from the sun's rays, so when it comes to baby sun safety, if your little one is in direct sunlight, keep them covered with protective clothing (especially if they're under 6 months old and can't wear sunscreen), so the rays don't hit the skin directly. Older babies and toddlers can enjoy playing in the sun if they are protected with a high-factor sunscreen. And, if your child is a water baby, waterproof sunscreen is essential. We've got everything you need to know about applying sunscreen to children as well as the best baby sunscreen on the market.

When selecting the best suncream for babies, you'll want take into consideration the formula, like what ingredients are included and if it's waterproof or not. There's also the SPF rating to consider, plus how the sunscreen is applied and how long it will last. This may seem like a lot to remember, but luckily, we've done some of that work for you.

As an essential part of your family medicine cabinet, we've shortlisted some of the best sunscreens that will not only protect your children's skin but offer other benefits, such as organic ingredients. Scroll down to find one that's right for you. It's worth noting a lot of these sunscreens will not be recommended for babies under six months because they are advised to be kept out of the sun entirely.

How Mother andBaby selected the best sunscreen for babies and toddlers

Our product recommendations are based on a combination of real-world testing from our burgeoning army of mum testers and the extensive knowledge of our experienced editorial team and product specialists. Where we can, we also consult experts who specialise in that field to ensure you get the right advice along with the right product, and we listen to what you say as well.

 Our thriving mum community on our Facebook group #mumtribe also often hold great insights as to which products mums really like best and why, helping us highlight the products that meet what you really want.

 For the essential products, our annual Mother&Baby Awards shortlist the top products tested, and you can find full reviews from our mum testers provided on the product page. The winners and runners-up for each category then will appear in our top picks article for that product, along with other products that were rated highly by our team.

Testing the best sunscreen for babies and toddlers

Whether the products have been tried and tested by our own parent testers or the Mother and Baby team, or we have researched reviews by verified customers online, we have looked out for certain things to ensure we can share the most useful insight, information and suggestions for our readers, to help you compare different products to find the best baby sunscreen for you.

For baby sunscreen we have gathered thoughts on how safe the product is, including SPF rating, ingredients, suitability for sensitive skin, including the best sunscreen for babies with eczema, as well as whether the products are resistant to water. We have also looked at the effectiveness of the product and whether people felt it kept their children protected from the sun and for how long. We know that ease of use is really important when applying products to children, so we looked at how easy the products were to apply, including the design of the bottle and type of application, whether they rubbed in easily and absorbed quickly, and how the product felt on the skin afterwards. We also considered the price of the products in comparison to the size and how many applications are recommended, to work out if the product would be good value for money, and finally whether parents like the scent.

Note: If your child has mid-toned to dark-toned skin choosing a sunscreen may require some different considerations, so we have a separate round-up of baby sunscreen for dark skin.

The best baby sunscreen at a glance:

Best for overall and for sensitive skin or eczema

Childs Farm Kids and Baby Sun Cream Roll-On SPF 50+

Best for protection

Childs Farm SPF 50+ Sun Cream

Best for single application for all-day protection

UltraSun Extreme SPF50+ Sun Cream

Best natural and organic hypoallergenic sun cream

Green People Scent Free Organic Children Sun Lotion SPF30 150ml

The 11 best baby sunscreen for babies and toddlers 2024

Best for overall and for sensitive skin or eczema

Childs Farm Roll-on sun lotionRebecca Lancaster / Mother and Baby

The Childs Farm Kids and Baby Sun Cream Roll-On SPF 50+ was awarded Gold for Best Sun Protection Cream at the Mother&Baby Awards 2023 and 2024.

Childs Farm Kids and Baby Sun Cream Roll-On SPF 50+ is our best overall; both award-winning and fragrance-free, it protects young and sensitive skin from UVA and UVB rays and keeps skin moisturised and hydrated. Naturally derived with ethically sourced ingredients, this water-resistant sun protection for babies and toddlers is suitable for all skin types, including dry, sensitive and even eczema-prone skin! It's a handy size to take with you too. We're big fans of this one.

Mother and Baby Digital Writer and mum Rebecca tried this product and said, "This is really easy to apply as you just roll it on so it's ideal for when kids are desperate to get to the beach or out to the park! I used it on them when we were running late for school and it was incredibly quick to apply. It is very thin so doesn't feel as protective but they didn't get burnt in the sun so I guess it worked! It is a small 50ml bottle so it'll be interesting to see how long it lasts but it would be ideal for taking on a plane if you only had hand luggage."

The defining feature is the roll-on applicator, perfect for independent tots to get involved and ideal for older kids to take to school and stay protected throughout the day. One of our mum testers confirms the rollerball works smoothly and is very easy to apply with less mess than the usual sprays or lotions. Keep in mind that it may be tricky to apply to the face with the roll-on feature. Some noticed the formula is a little sticky at first but said the cream absorbs quickly. Watch out for staining on clothes, as one tester did discover some yellow staining after rolling it on her son's clothes accidentally. Overall, reports of the product as a reliable sunscreen to protect your child's skin are positive though, and parents seem to prefer the convenience of a roller application over a spray or lotion for babies and toddlers on the move.

Read our full Childs Farm 50+SPF Roll-On Sun Lotion Fragrance Free review.

Pros

  • Easy to apply and less mess because of the roll-on applicator
  • Absorbs quickly which is convenient when on the go
  • High sun protection factor so you don't have to keep reapplying
  • Handy size for travel if you only have hand luggage

Cons

  • Sticky formula may be a bit messy
  • May stain your child's clothes during application
  • Roll-on feature makes it tricky to apply to the face
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes
Sizes: 50ml
  • Unscented
  • 70ml
  • 100% recyclable packaging
  • Re-apply every 1-2 hour
  • Suitable for babies 6 months and upwards

Best for protection

Childs Farm SPF 50+ Sun Cream Rebecca Lancaster / Mother and Baby

Kids playing in the garden or enjoying the beach on holiday need the best protection from the sun. Childs Farm products are all designed to take extra care of delicate skin, and this Childs Farm SPF 50+ Sun Cream gives great protection from the sun's powerful rays from six months of age. Mother and Baby Digital Writer and mum Rebecca tested this product and said, "This is a lightweight suncream and rubs in really well. I'm not overly keen on the scent but that's a minor concern as long as it stops the kids getting sunburnt which it does well. It's a bit greasier than the Green People sun cream I tested but does have a higher 50+ UVA and UVB protection and rubs in more easily so the kids can get out in the sun more quickly! It's a nice big bottle so should last a good amount of time."

If your child has sensitive skin you'll be pleased to know that both of our mum tester Jenny's children have sensitive skin and these creams suited both of them really well with no bad reactions at all. Also recommended for eczema-prone skin, a reviewer confirms that they've used this product on their 6-year old with severe eczema and not experienced any scratching. They say usually he can't wear sunscreen without flaring up and that it can take ages to get it back under control, meaning he has to stay indoors. They even found this product to be better than some pharmacy creams.

Read our full Childs Farm Sun Range review

Pros

  • Easy to apply being a lightweight cream that rubs in well
  • Great smell keeps your child smelling fresh throughout the day
  • Safe for sensitive and eczema-prone skin
  • Bigger bottle lasts longer

Cons

  • Some thought it was a bit greasy
  • Scent is subjective as some weren't keep, others liked it
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes
Sizes:100ml and 200ml

Best for single application for all-day protection

 ultrasun Extreme Lotion
Price: $43.99

If you have a little one who hates having sunscreen applied you'll appreciate UltraSun's Extreme SPF50+ Sun Cream that only requires one application in the morning. Reapplication is recommended for complete protection, however, one reviewer says they only applied this once to their 9-month-old baby about an hour before going out in the sun, and it lasted all day, even with a couple of short dips in the pool.

It's got a thick consistency and an easy-to-use pump dispenser. It can take a while to rub into the skin, but we think it's worth it for the long protection. Plus, it claims to be fast-absorbing, non-greasy and designed to help prevent prickly heat – sounds like a winner to us.

One thing to be mindful of is that the product isn't designed specifically for baby skin, and although the product is designed for ultra-sensitive skin, there have been mixed reviews on this. One reviewer says it didn't work for them, they found it to be expensive and their daughter's skin still came out in a rash. Another reviewer who purchased the product described it as the best sunscreen and amazing for sensitive skin, saying their own skin normally erupts in a rash when exposed to sun, but not with this. We recommend doing a patch test on your kids to be on the safe side.

Pros

  • Only requires on application in the morning
  • Contains Vitamins E and B5 to moisturise and care for skin
  • Lightweight formula is easy to apply
  • Convenient easy-to-use pump dispenser

Cons

  • Not specifically designed for baby skin
  • Can take a while to rub despite saying it's "fast-absorbing"
  • Mixed reviews about it being designed for ultra-sensitive skin
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?No
Sizes:100ml
  • Pump dispenser
  • Fast-absorbing
  • Suitable for all ages
  • Non-greasy
  • Suitable for vegans
  • Reef-friendly & ocean safe. 

Best natural and organic hypoallergenic sun cream

Green People Scent Free Organic Children Sun LotionRebecca Lancaster / Mother and Baby
Price: $39.90

If you're looking for an ethically responsible, Reef-safe sun lotion that's easy to apply the Green People Organic Children Sun Lotion is definitely one to consider. Mother and Baby Digital Writer and mum Rebecca Lancaster has tried and tested this product and says, "I like that this sun cream is scent free and eczema-friendly so I can be confident that it's not going to irritate my daughter's sensitive skin - that's a huge selling point as I am very conscious about what I use on her." Rebecca thinks it will be good for the beach as once rubbed in, she says it felt quite smooth and unsticky, although she points out that it takes a while to rub in fully, so isn't ideal if you're in a rush. While it says it is scent free, Rebecca says there is a bit of a smell, but that it isn't unpleasant and is far less than some other brands.

Another reviewer said this product is the only one her grandson isn't allergic to! They said that while it might not be the cheapest sun product, it's organic, applies well and protects brilliantly. Despite it being scent-free, they also said it smells pleasant. Overall the feedback in reviews is very positive. Users like the fact that the product is made from natural ingredients and say it has worked well to protect their kids, with the gentle formula being great for avoiding flare-ups for those with sensitive skin. Do be careful when applying the lotion though, as the product may stain your child's clothes.

Pros

  • Non-greasy formula that feels smooth and unsticky
  • Eczema-friendly for kids prone to flare-ups
  • Water-repellent but non-pore-clogging to allow skin to breathe

Cons

  • Be careful when applying as it may stain your child's clothes
  • Takes a while to rub in fully
SPF:30
Water-resistant? Yes
Sizes:150ml (Pack of 1 or 2)
  • Natural and Organic
  • Easy to apply and non-greasy
  • Contains Aloe Vera, Green tea & Edelweiss
  • Reef Safe, Vegan & Cruelty-Free
  • Eczema-friendly & safe for sensitive skin
  • Water repellent

Best for being easily absorbed

Ideal for young and delicate skin, this SunSense Kids SPF50+ fragrance-free sunscreen is non-greasy, easy to apply, and easily absorbed. Suitable from six months, it's SPF50+ for high protection against UBA and UBV and contains moisturising B3 for extra care. We also love that it's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, great for water babies.

If you're looking for an easy-to-use product that absorbs well, you'll be pleased to know that mums seem to love the consistency of this sun cream – it's thicker than other brands and has a smoother application. Our mum tester Rachael shares that other brands she's tried have had a thinner consistency and tend to make a big mess, whereas this one doesn't, saving a lot of time and clean up having a wriggly baby. Mum tester Paige says it spreads well across the skin, covering a large area, and doesn't leave her child sticky afterwards. And mum tester Nicola said it's a handy size to keep in the changing bag. Mum tester Jessica likes that the bottle is small enough for her daughter to carry around with her and says she knows it must go on before we go outside.

Overall, our mum testers don't really have much to criticise about this product. Some wish it was slightly cheaper, but as our mum tester Gail points out, although it is one of the most expensive sun creams on the market, it is clearly very good and thought highly of as many NHS trusts actually prescribe it for children who need sun screen on prescription. She says this alone made her quite proud to be seen using it! Other mums have said they'd prefer a spray bottle for easier application, and our mum tester Rachael warns to make sure the lid is closed correctly, otherwise it could leak out into your bag, which Paige agrees with. However, all of our testers would be happy to recommend this product to friends and family.

Read our full SunSense Kids SPF50+ review

Pros

  • 4 hours of water-resistance means plenty of time for play
  • Thicker than other brands so it lasts longer and has a smoother application
  • Absorbs into the skin quickly
  • A handy size that is Ideal for school bags or nappy bags

Cons

  • One of the more expensive options on the market
  • Some thought it would be easier to apply in a spray bottle
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes, for 80 minutes
Sizes:125ml
  • Vegan Friendly
  • Not tested on animals
  • Water-resistant for up to 2 hours
  • Fragrance-free
  • Available in a 125ml bottle and a handy 50ml roll-on

Best for long-lasting protection

Recommended by dermatologists for those with sun eczema and sun allergies, Evy Sun Mousse SPF50 KIDS is a wonderfully light sun-protection mousse that’s easy to apply and non-sticky. Unlike ordinary sun creams, the mousse formula spreads throughout the top layer of skin and avoids clogging up on the skin surface. This makes the product less likely to be wiped off during bathing and towel drying, so that it can provide your little ones with reliable long-lasting protection against UVA and UVB rays while they play in the sun.

If your tot has medium to dark skin you'll be pleased to know that one reviewer recommends this product for leaving their med-dark skin tone looking exactly the same, as opposed to grey like other sun creams. They say that a little goes a long way though, so be careful not to press too hard on the nozzle! It's quite sticky and feels a little heavy, they say, but as soon as you apply cream on top, your skin no longer feels tacky. This might be something to consider when using the product on impatient kids, as it will add an extra step to the process. Another reviewer, on the other hand, states that the product isn’t sticky, and that you're using too much if it leaves a white coating. They also point out that it doesn't sting near the sensitive eye area either, which makes this great for kiddies.

Pros

  • Suitable for sensitive skin
  • Light mouse that's easy to apply and non-sticky
  • Absorbs well and doesn't rub off
  • Doesn't irritate kids' eyes so it's good for applying to the face
  • Fun-factor (kids love the foam)

Cons

  • A little goes a long way - sticky if you use too much
SPF:50
Water-resistant?Yes
Sizes:150ml
Age:6 months+
  • The Original Swedish Formula Mousse
  • 150ml (Aerosol Mousse) 
  • Rapidly absorbed for immediate protection
  • Very Water Resistant
  • Non-Greasy
  • Parabens, Nano-Particles and Perfume Free
  • Up to 6 Hours Protection

Best for older children

For anyone with fussy kids that hate having sun cream applied (isn't this all kids?) a once-a-day sunscreen like this one is a good choice. Riemann P20 Suncare For Kids 50+ has a four-star UVA protection and factor 50 SPF and protects your child for up to 10 hours. This makes it a good option for school-aged children too, as they won't have to remember to reapply it themselves throughout the day. Bear in mind on swim-days it will only last three hours in water though.

It is a gentle cream that's fragrance-free, and is specially developed for children's sun-sensitive skin, but has more of an oily texture than most of the creams on this list. Our mum tester Salina describes it as a really lovely cream that makes application quick and easy with its handy pump. She assures us that there are no horrid smells, and that she didn't find it to be tacky or sticky like some sun creams. Mum tester Alexia also says the cream soaks and rubs into the child’s skin easily, and mum Natasha agrees that the texture and smell is nicer than the average sun cream. She also appreciates the lack of white marks when applying and the fact that it spreads easily.

All of our mum testers agree the product is a bit on the expensive side, which they found to be off-putting initially. However, Salina says though it’s quite pricey when compared with a lot of creams, it does seem to last due to the good coverage and only needing one application. One thing to watch out for is that the cream can stain, leaving yellowish arks on your kids' clothes, so avoid dressing your little one in white clothing after applying.

Read our full P20 SPF50+ Suncare for Kids review

Pros

  • Great coverage and durability meaning it's better value for money
  • Only need to apply once a day (when not in the water)
  • Easy-to-press spray lid for convenient pump application
  • No white marks when applying as it absorbs well

Cons

  • No safety device on trigger means could cause a mess in your bag
  • Be careful during application as it can stain your child's clothes
  • More expensive that other products
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes, for up to 3 hours
Sizes:200ml
  • Protection up to 10 hours
  • Water resistance up to 3 hours
  • Fragrance-free

Best for being extra water resistant

NIVEA SUN Kids Protect & Care Roll-On 50+ Tim Ferid / Mother and Baby

Trusted by many, this Nivea sun protection for kids comes in a handy travel size with easy roll-on application. The formula claims to be extra water resistant, absorbing quickly and providing long-lasting moisture while supporting the skin's protective barrier to reduce the risk of sun allergies.
Tim Ferid, our dad tester and SEO Executive at Mother and Baby enjoyed the "nice fresh scent" and the application of the product on his little one, describing it as: "Super easy to use, literally just roll product on and rub in. Works well when trying to apply to a wriggly baby." He says it was smooth and moisturising on the skin and that it absorbed well once rubbed in, however, he did experience slight tackiness on the skin.

Tim says it's not the cheapest on the market as you only get a small amount, however, for a baby you do not need much. Tim points out that it may not be the best value for money if you have a bigger child, especially if needing to reapply regularly, like if your child is playing in water. The product is advertised to be extra water resistant, but Tim says you can never be too careful with little ones! Tim notes that the product isn't meant to be used for children under 3 and there is advice about
avoiding suncream under the age of 6 months due to skin allergies. It was Tim's first time having a young 4.5-month-old baby in the summer months and said "keeping him protected from the sun is a priority and required when wanting to be out and about." Tim also liked how small and compact the bottle is – easy to pop in change bag!

Read our fullNIVEA SUN Kids Protect & Care Roll-On 50+ review

Pros

  • Provides immediate protection and reduces the risk of sun allergies
  • Supports the skin's protective barrier and provides long-lasting moisture
  • Comes in a handy size to take with you on the go
  • Suitable for delicate skin
  • Nice fresh scent

Cons

  • Not meant to be used for children under 3
  • Not the cheapest on the market
  • Slight tackiness on the skin
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes
Size:50 ml
  • Roll-on
  • Water resistant
  • Travel-size
  • Moisturising
  • Developed for delicate skin

Best for an easy-grip bottle

If you and your little one struggle when the time comes to apply the sun cream, you'll be happy to know that this one, the Soltan Once 8hr Kids Play Spray SPF50+, is a quick-drying sun care product that will keep the mess at bay. It also has a great ergonomic-shaped bottle for easy handling when applying to wriggly babies and toddlers, and can help older kids to hold the bottle without it slipping when they're applying product themselves.

It's water-resistant, offers up to 8 hours of sun protection from just one application and is specially formulated for your child's delicate skin. One reviewer says they've been using the sun cream for three years and won't use any others now. They describe their kids as very fair and say the product lasts all day at school for them. Another parent says their very pale son didn’t burn at all either, but warns that the spray was hard to pump single-handed. However, it applied nicely, rubbing in well, and didn’t feel greasy. As with many sun creams be careful when applying as this formula can stain white clothing. One reviewer advises you to buy it early because it sells out fast and is very hard to get when summer starts.

Pros

  • Water resistant and long-lasting protection making it good value for money
  • Easy-grip ergonomic design for more control when applying to wriggly kids
  • fast-drying formula means less mess

Cons

  • Stains white clothing
  • May be hard to pump single-handed
SPF:50+
Water-resistant?Yes
Sizes:200ml
  • Up to 8 hours sun protection
  • Water Resistant
  • Easy-grip bottle

Best for protecting baby's face

We love this little Aveeno Sun Natural Protection Baby SPF 50 Face Stick, and think the travel-size ideal to pop in your nappy bag so you always have protection at hand to top-up your baby's delicate little face when you're on-the-go and the sun is out. With naturally sourced ingredients like Oat and zinc oxide, it's nice and soothing, specially formulated for your baby's sensitive skin.

It's definitely not an all-day product though, so you'll have to remember to reapply after 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying, and at least every two hours – but the point on the product is to have something easy to use at hand when you need it.

Parents seem to love it for this – One mum says she loved using it on her baby on holiday, and that it wasn't sticky and soaked into the skin almost instantly. She also says it was easy to use and compact, so perfect for travelling. Another mum says it was so easy to apply to her son's face, and also great for under her own eyes as it doesn’t sting! One reviewer noticed it did leave a slight white mask, and said it wasn't as easy to apply as you’d think. But she appreciated the travel size anyway and said it was great for storing in a small purse. Another reviewer wanted to make it clear that the sticks is about the size of an adult lip salve, in case you're expecting something bigger.

Pros

  • True travel size (like a lip salve) makes is perfect for the face top-ups
  • Non-sticky formula means less mess and no greasy-looking faces
  • Nice and soothing oat formula, specially formulated for baby's sensitive skin
  • Great for around the eyes as it doesn't sting

Cons

  • Definitely not an all day product - have to reapply regularly
  • Not as easy to apply as you'd think
SPF:50
Water-resistant:Reapply after 80 mins of swimming or sweating
Size:14g
  • Stick applicator
  • Travel-size
  • Natural ingredients

Best sunscreen applicator

Solar Buddies Sun Cream Applicator
Price: $23.98

Okay, so we know this isn't technically a sunscreen. However, it has made our list because it makes applying sunscreen so much easier, plus, it's super fun for kids! You may recognise it as the award-winning, child-friendly sunscreen applicator as featured on Dragons Den. The empty sun cream applicator can be filled with your favourite sun cream. Our Mother and Baby Product Writer Hannah James has tried the sunscreen applicator herself and highly recommends it, saying her five-year-old loves using it independently and that due to the design, there is no waste. "If your child doesn't like having sun cream applied, this is a game-changer," she says, "It makes applying sun cream much easier."

We love that it's travel-sized, holding 100ml, making it perfect for holiday hand luggage or popping in a bag for summer day trips. It also has an anti-bacterial coating and space so that the applicator can be clearly labelled with your child's name too, which makes it a brilliant product for sending with them to nursery or school. One reviewer says it spreads the right amount on your skin so you don't end up with a super thick layer. Another reviewer says the best part for everyone is your hands are still clean after using it, which is perfect for kids using it independently. Users say just give it a little shake before use then the cream can be applied really quickly. There's no need to replace the full unit either, just replace the sponge applicator heads and recycle the old one! And if you do need to dispose of the whole thing – all parts are recyclable.

Pros

  • Easy to label so you know what you've put in it
  • Easy to apply on children (or for children to apply on themselves!)
  • Spreads the right amount onto the skin so there's no excess
  • Easy to clean making it hygienic
  • Convenient size for topping up on the go

Cons

  • Doesn't come with suncream, so that's an added expense
SPF:N/A
Water-resistant?No
Sizes:N/A
  • Award-winning and featured on Dragon's Den
  • Refillable with replacement heads
  • Fully recyclable
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to use
  • Travel-size
  • Holds 100mls

How to Choose Baby Sunscreen

With lots of options to choose from, it can feel like there's a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right sunscreen, but what exactly should you be looking for on the label?

"You want a sunscreen which has broad-spectrum protection, which is where the sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and this is the type of sunscreen you should be buying. There are two types of rays: UVA rays, which damage the tissue that provides her skin with elasticity and contribute to skin ageing, and UVB rays, which don't penetrate as deeply, but can damage a cell's DNA and cause it to become cancerous," says Dr Crawley.

"SPF is the 'sun protection factor', and it's important to choose a sunscreen with a high SPF to ensure a good level of protection. The best suncream to purchase is one which has an SPF of at least 30."

You also want to look for a five-star UV rating in conjunction with a high SPF, as this means it will absorb a high percentage of both UVA and UVB rays. If your baby has particularly sensitive or eczema-prone skin, make sure you are using a product that has been clinically tested as suitable for this skin type or use a product that is dermatologist and paediatrician-approved.

Dr. Laura Geige summarises with the following tips:

  • When selecting sunscreen for your little ones, it's crucial to prioritize safety and effectiveness.

  • Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are preferable, as they sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun's rays without being absorbed. This reduces the risk of skin irritation or allergic reactions.

  • Ensure the sunscreen is water-resistant and free from harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone, parabens, and fragrances.

  • I often advise parents to choose products labeled specifically for infants or sensitive skin, as these are formulated to be extra gentle.

From a practocal viewpoint it's also important to consider what type of application will best suit your needs. For example, if you have a wriggly baby a pump-style bottle might be easier. Reluctant toddlers might enjoy getting involved, roll-on style products are often considered the best sunscreen for toddlers as they enable little ones to "help" apply the sunscreen to their own body. Size may also be important to you if you want to take the product with you on-the-go as it'll need to be small and light enough to fit into your nappy bag. In regards to cost, don't be fooled by a cheaper product, a more expensive one may end up being better value for money if it needs to be applied fewer times throughout the day.

What is an SPF rating?

Every sunscreen will have an SPF rating, which is a measure of how much UV radiation is necessary to produce sunburn on protected skin (AKA, skin with sunscreen on). When the SPF rating is higher, so is the protection, which is why baby and kids sunscreens typically have the highest SPF rating.

How to apply sunscreen on babies and toddlers

When going out in the sun, every exposed part of their skin should be covered in sunscreen about 15-30 minutes before they actually go outside. This is easier said than done with wriggly little ones. You can make it a fun game or pick a formula that's quick and easy to apply to combat that.

Make sure you cover their face, ears, arms, hands, legs, feet, shoulders, and behind the neck when applying, moving bits of their clothing like straps and sleeves, to get a good amount of coverage.

Dr Laura Geige adds the following advice:

  • Proper application is key to ensuring maximum protection.

  • Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of your child's skin about 15-30 minutes before heading outdoors.

  • Pay special attention to often-missed spots like the ears, the back of the neck, and the tops of the feet.

  • For the face, use a sunscreen stick or a mineral sunscreen to avoid the risk of stinging if it gets into the eyes.

  • Reapply every two hours, and more frequently if your child is swimming or sweating.

She says, "It's essential to make applying sunscreen a part of your regular routine, even on cloudy days, as UV rays can penetrate through clouds."

What sunscreen is safe for babies?

You'll need to choose a sunscreen specially formulated for babies and toddlers, so the regular adult sunscreen that you may be using will not be suitable for children, and babies. Not only are these better suited to sensitive skin, but they also work in a different way. Conventional sunblocks will use chemicals to absorb and dissipate the sun's rays, whereas children's sunscreens will often use minerals to create a physical barrier from the sun. They'll typically have higher SPF ratings as well.

Can I use one sunscreen for the entire family?

As previously mentioned, a specialised formula is required for the younger members of your family. Adult sunscreen may be suitable at a pinch with children over the age of 6, but in general, we recommend purchasing baby-safe or kids formulas for your children.

Dr. Laura Geige provides her expert guidance, saying, "While it may be convenient to use the same sunscreen for everyone, I advise caution. Sunscreens designed for adults often contain chemicals and fragrances that might irritate a baby's sensitive skin. Opt for a high-quality mineral sunscreen that is safe for all ages if you prefer a single product for the whole family. However, for babies and toddlers, using a sunscreen specifically formulated for their delicate skin is always the best choice."

Why can't babies under 6 months use sunscreen?

Many parents want to know why can't you use sunscreen on babies under 6 months? Babies have delicate and sensitive skin, so when they're over 6 months, sunscreen can be the answer to protecting them, but before 6 months, it actually isn't. This is because younger infants are more susceptible to the uncomfortable side effects of sunscreen. This could include rashes so sunscreen won't be the right choice for babies under 6 months.

Dr. Laura Geige says, "Babies under six months have skin that is thinner and more permeable than that of older children and adults. This makes them more susceptible to the potential harmful effects of sunscreen ingredients. Their skin's limited barrier function and their higher surface-area-to-body-weight ratio mean they absorb more chemicals relative to their size. Consequently, it's safer to avoid using sunscreen and instead rely on physical barriers like clothing and shade to protect their skin."

How long can Babies and Toddlers spend in the sun?

When they're under 6 months, your little one shouldn't be out in the sun, but after that point, with the right protection, they can enjoy sunny days along with the rest of the family. Obviously with sunscreen, hydration, a good sun hat, and time in the shade, your baby or toddler should be safe in the sun, but make sure it's only for 30-60 minutes at a time.

Dr. Laura Geige says, "Exposure time should be carefully managed to prevent sunburn and overheating." She advises the following:

  • For babies under six months, avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.

  • For older babies and toddlers, limit sun exposure to short periods, ensuring they are well-hydrated and their skin is adequately protected.

  • Even with sunscreen, clothing, and shade, try to keep outdoor playtimes during early morning or late afternoon when the sun is less intense.

  • Frequent breaks and time spent in the shade can help mitigate the risks associated with sun exposure.

Dr. Geige says, "Protecting your child's skin from the sun is an essential aspect of their overall health and well-being. By choosing the right sunscreen, applying it correctly, and implementing additional protective measures, you can enjoy the outdoors safely. Always prioritize your child's comfort and safety, and consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns regarding sun protection. Remember, instilling good sun protection habits early on sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy skin."

How Can You Protect Babies That Can't Wear Sunscreen?

When your baby is under 6 months old, you'll be focusing on keeping them out of the sun. This can be achieved with a parasol or sun shade attached to their pram.

You can also get sun shades for the car. Also dress them in lightweight clothing and placed in a cool place with shade.

When they pass that 6 month point, similar will apply, but you can also add sunscreen, a sun hat, and even some baby sunglasses to your protective kit. And as with adults, they'll need to stay hydrated and get breaks from the sun. If they do end up a little burnt, don't panic, using some kids aftersun can really help to soothe the pain.

Dr. Laura Geige offers the following expert guidance:

  • For infants under six months, sun protection should primarily involve physical barriers.

  • Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible, using umbrellas, stroller shades, or canopies.

  • Dress them in lightweight, long-sleeved clothing, and wide-brimmed hats to shield their skin from direct sunlight.

  • Consider clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating for added protection.

  • Sunglasses with 100% UV protection can safeguard their sensitive eyes.

  • Avoid sun exposure during peak UV radiation hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

About the experts

Dr Jennifer Crawley is a leading paediatric dermatologist and consultant for Childs Farm, who has more than 10 years of experience in dermatology, working from the University College Hospital London. She believes a re-education is needed when it comes to sun protection and is urging people to get out of the mindset that suncream is just for holidays abroad or for peak heatwaves.

Dr. Laura Geige is a GDC registered dentist, aesthetician with level 7 qualification in medical aesthetics, an assessor, clinical trainer, cosmetic dermatology and facials specialist. Driven by a profound understanding of skincare, she has significantly contributed to the development of product portfolios for beauty brands through her adept diagnosis and treatment of various skin conditions.

Stephanie Anthony is the Deputy Digital Editor at Mother&Baby and auntie to four aged 7 to 2 months old. With a particular interest in health, she loves discovering products that make parent’s lives easier.

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Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.