Can infants use sunscreen lotions? The good and the bad

Modified: 30 April 2016

Babies’ skin is delicate and it requires extra diligence. Infants have a higher surface-area to body weight ratio compared to older children and adults. During summer, it is an important task for the parents to protect the baby from the sun’s bright rays. You need to avoid exposing your baby during the peak hours generally between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., where the ultra violet rays are most intense. Younger infants don’t sweat like adults. Sweat cools us down when we are hot, but babies haven’t fully developed with built-in heating and cooling system. Their bodies can't tolerate extreme temperatures, so you need to make sure that your baby doesn’t get overheated. Do not forget, a very few serious sunburns can just increase the risk of skin cancer when your child grows up. If you take simple steps now, you can protect your baby from the risks of sun exposure in long term.

If your baby is younger than 6 months, the best thing that you can do is to keep him/her away from the direct sunlight or keep him under shade. You need to protect your baby by dressing him/her in comfortable light weight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats that provides shade to the neck to prevent sunburn.

If there is no way to keep your baby out of the sun, you need to consult your pediatrician and if your pediatrician agrees you can apply a small portion of sunscreen on the exposed areas. Remember, applying sunscreen is just like an extra precaution for your baby and it doesn’t mean that he/she can be out in the sun for a long period.

Tips to remember while buying a sunscreen lotion for your baby

  • Choose a hypoallergenic formula that’s specifically for the children with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
  • Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects both UVB and UVA rays.
  • Choose a “water resistant sunscreen” and check the expiry date on the bottle.
  • You need to use a sunscreen that contains only inorganic filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in order to avoid irritation in your baby’s skin and eyes.
  • Avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent, because sunscreen can be reapplied on the baby’s skin whereas insect repellent doesn’t need to be reapplied.
  • Before you slather it on, perform a patch test on your baby skin to check the sensitivity of your baby by trying a small amount of sunscreen on the inner wrist.
  • Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you take him/her out so that your baby’s skin is protected from the minute the first ray hits.

 If your child gets sunburned in spite of these precautions, take a small amount of sandalwood paste or cucumber juice and mix it with rose water and apply it on child’s skin. This traditional remedy will soothe his/her skin, cool it and prevent further burning.

Some of the trustable safe sunscreens available in India 

  • Lotus herbals kids sun block

This sunscreen can be used for babies above the age of 6 months since it contains parabens and fragrance. It comes with 25 SPF. It claims to be sweat proof and protects from UVA and UVB rays.

Price: Rs.195/- for 100gm Buy now  

  • Farlin baby sunscreen lotion

It is a natural product that is hypo allergenic and is completely safe for children. It contains natural rice extract and is extra mild on babies with SPF 20.

Price: Rs.995/- Buy now

  • Chicco sun milk

This sun milk comes with an SPF 30 and has a fluid texture. It is dermatologically tested and protects the baby’s skin.

Price: Rs.899/- for 200ml Buy now

  • Seba Med Sun Lotion

This 150ml of bottle comes with an SPF 50+ and contains 98% filter of UVA and UVB rays. It will last on the baby’s skin up to 6 hrs.

Price: Rs.1500/- for 150ml  Buy now

Some of the top imported products 

  • Aveeno Active Baby Natural Protection SPF 50+ Lotion

This sunscreen has mineral guard technology and is one of the best products. It contains oat extracts, zinc oxide and titanium oxide and forms as a protective barrier for the baby’s skin against the UV rays.

Price: Rs.1771 Buy now

  • Thinkbaby Sunscreen SPF 50+

You can trust this brand very well as it is chemical free and fragrance free. It is a water resistant sunscreen and is a top choice for babies with sensitive skin.

Price: Rs.1521 Buy now

  • Babyganics Mineral-Based Sunscreen SPF 50

This sunscreen has high zinc oxide content is a good product. It is convenient to use on the baby’s skin for day trips to the beach or pool.

Price: Rs.2,520 Buy now

  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30

This product provides good coverage and blends in well. There are many natural ingredients like vitamin E, aloe vera and jojoba oil which will nourish the baby’s skin.

Price: Rs.1775 Buy now

  • Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream SPF 30

Badger sunscreen is a broad spectrum sunscreen and it is 100% natural. It is bio degradable and pediatrician tested which is waterproof up to 40 minutes.

Price: Rs.1920 Buy now

  • Babytime by Episencial Sunny Sunscreen SPF35

It is a mineral based broad spectrum sunscreen which can protect the delicate skin of babies. This moisturizing sunscreen is water resistant up to 80 minutes and keeps the skin soft and safe.

Price: Rs.996 Buy now

  • Nature’s Gate Mineral Kids Block SPF 20

You can get this product for the fragrance free formula which contains calendula marshmallow and chamomile aloe extracts to help soothe and nourish skin. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which works by scattering light rays instead of absorbing them.

Price: Rs.1193 Buy now

The worst sunscreens that should be avoided

You need to be extra cautious while buying a product for your baby. Some company claims to have high SPF and the ingredients present in the bottle may harm your child’s skin. Hence, it is important to avoid products that can be hazardous.

You must avoid products which contains the following Ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone – This ingredient is a penetration enhancer that undergoes a chemical reaction when applied on the skin and can disrupt the hormone system.
  • Retinyl palmitate – It claims to protect the aging effects of UV exposure but it may trigger skin cells damage on the exposed skin.

Not so good sunscreens

  • Spray sunscreens – There’s a chance that your baby can inhale the ingredients and they don’t cover the skin completely.
  • SPF values above 50+ - It doesn’t mean that higher the SPF, higher will be the protection. An SPF 15 can block 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 can block 97%. The companies will try to trick you.

Other Safety tips to protect your child during summer

  1. Your stroller should provide enough shade to shield your baby. You should never drape a blanket over the top of your baby’s stroller, since it possesses the risk of suffocation and overheating.
  2. Make sure your baby doesn’t show any signs of dehydration like fussiness, redness, and excessive crying.
  3. If your child’s skin becomes sunburned, move her out of the sun right away and apply cold compresses to the areas that appear red.
  4. You must take note of how much your baby is urinating and if it’s less than usual, it may be a sign of dehydration.
  5. Hydrate your baby by feeding breast milk or any baby formula. Use a cooler to store the liquids.

"Protect your baby from harsh sun"

Review written by Ilakkiya Parthasarathy

Born and brought up in Chennai, Ilakkiya is an IT engineer who works as a business analyst. She is an expert when it comes to buying; from pretty dresses to useful gadgets. Her ubiquitous opinions have led her to exhibit her writing skills to the world at large through Review Frenzy.