Heading out in the sunshine is one of the highlights of summer weather for me. I love going out for a walk in the bright sunlight.
But, I live down at the bottom of the world, where we have a hole in the ozone layer.
So we can’t go out without thinking about how to cover up or stay “sun safe” somehow. ‘Burn time’ is a big deal here since it doesn’t take long in the sun before you get sunburnt. [Burn time indicates the approximate time in the sun without protection that it would take for your skin to start to burn.]
Not only is ‘burn time’ almost always put up alongside any weather report, there are whole government campaigns especially focused on kids.
“Slip, slop, slap” is the one that I remember the most. Maybe coz it sounds like it could be a suggestive song of some kind…! Just in case you haven’t heard it before, let me give you the tagline so it makes more sense: “slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat”.
Of course I am older now so they’ve added a couple more words to the tune which I never remember. But the message is pretty much the same.
I guess they’ve added some things since the older generation are now getting treated for skin cancer all.the.time. My father included.
Sunscreen is big in our world.
Chemical cocktail anyone?!?
When it comes to putting this on my baby’s tender skin I was much more careful to research what was in it.
So let me share what I discovered with you as well!!
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No Sunscreen Before 6 months
Yup. Cover up your baby and keep them out of the sun until 6 months at least. Before that, there are no sunscreens recommended for babies. Not by most specialists or the Mayo Clinic anyway.
You’ll want to keep your young baby covered – with hat, clothing, stroller shade, shade umbrella or shade tent – and out of the sun.
You might like to try making your own sunscreen so you have control of the ingredients. I thought I would but haven’t managed to do it yet…
Here are three recipes you might like to try:
- Homemade Sunscreen from Wellness Mama
- DIY Herbal Sunscreen from Modern Homestead Mama
- Coconut Oil Sunscreen from Coconut Mama
Best Sunscreens For Babies
What type of sunscreen would you buy for baby given all this information?!
The Mayo Clinic suggests using a mineral based (zinc oxide or titanium oxide) sunscreen to avoid irritating your (6 months or older) baby’s sensitive skin and eyes.
Mineral sunscreens form a physical, rather than chemical barrier over your baby’s skin. Which sounds much better to me!
Here’s a short list of the sunscreens I WOULD buy and use (or that I have used) based on my research.
Neutrogena has always been great for my skin, which is dry and sensitive. So it seemed a good choice for my kids as well. And not only is it well respected it is also recommended by the National Eczema Association.
Aveeno is another product that does well on my sensitive skin so I was happy to try it for my kids.
Blue Lizard is made in Australia (which makes it wonderful of course!) but also has packaging that changes colour when it is in the sun for too long… to help remind you to be careful!
Here are some of the links I looked at while researching. I always love knowing what others have been looking at so I figure some of you may as well. I like checking a variety of places for my info, so there’s quite a few different sources!
- EWG’s 2019 Guide to Sunscreens – this is a really comprehensive look at sun safety, but you can also search for a sunscreen that you are using and find out if it is actually safe. Helpful if you have already bought some and want to check it out.
- Dr Axe’s Best Sunscressn of 2019
- Wellness Mama’s post on Sunscreen Ingredients
- Kitchen Stewardship’s post on Natural Sunscreens for Babies
- Health.com’s Best Sunscreens for Babies
Keeping Babies Safe in the Sun
There are several components to baby sun protection, not just sunscreen. Here’s a fun infographic I made for you to save to your computer or your Pinterest boards for reference!
Cover Up (Slip)
This is the “slip” part – “slip on a shirt”. Make sure as much skin as possible is covered.
Ideally, you want to choose fabric that has a close weave so that less sunlight can get through it. Some fabrics, especially for swimwear, have a UPF rating on them. That stands for the ultraviolet protection factor – or how much they protect from the sun. The UPF rating tells you how much sun can get through the fabric to your skin. So a UPF rating of 20 would mean 1/20th of the suns rays will hit the skin of your baby… which is why you should always go for UPF rating of 40+ or the highest you can find!
Since this is your best option for babies under 6 months, The Mayo Clinic suggests protecting baby from the sun by:
- keeping baby in the shade
- dressing baby in breathable fabric that covers as much skin as possible
- getting a wide brim hat for baby
- wearing baby sunglasses
- using an umbrella or pop-up tent to provide even more shade (especially at the beach)
The “slop” part of the rhyme. We’ve already gone through this part in detail.
Once your baby is older than 6 months, choose a mineral-based sensitive skin sunscreen and apply to exposed skin when going out in the sun.
What interested me in my research was the finding that when people use sunscreen they get lazy about sun protection.
In other words, they don’t put more sunscreen on when they need to, they don’t put on enough sunscreen, AND they stay out for a longer time than they planned to pretty often as well!
So the take away message here is: sunscreen doesn’t make staying out in the sun for a long time a safe thing to do!
We need to use sunscreen and then act as if we haven’t. Stay vigilant, stay covered up and don’t stay out in it for a long time… especially for our babies!
Well this is “slap” as in “slap on a hat”.
As long as you have a hat with a wide brim that shades your ears and neck as well as your face then you can choose your own style. I definitely recommend having some way to tie it on so that wind, and your baby’s little hands, cannot pull it off!
Most baby hats include a velcro chin strap which is a safe option to keep hats on heads!
For a few specific hats that I recommended for the beach, check out my post on beach essentials for baby.
The sun is hottest between the hours of 10am and 4pm… which is generally when we all want to go out and enjoy it! But this is why we should enjoy it from a safe and shaded spot with our babies.
If there isn’t a suitable shady area, use an umbrella, pop-up tent or shade-cloth of your own.
Now, this may seem over the top, but the research says that young eyes have not yet fully developed and can be even more sensitive than our own in bright sunlight… so embrace being the fashionista parent who has the perfect sunglasses for her baby as well as herself. You have research to support you!
Choose some that have the straps so that they stay on your baby like these ones:
- Bib-ON Vintage 100% UV Protection
- Baby BANZ Ultimate Polarized Sunglasses
- Julbo Looping I Baby Sunglasses
- Nacuwa Baby Sunglasses – 100% UV Proof
Now all you need is a nice spot and maybe a picnic to enjoy a wonderful summer day!