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Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

When it comes to protecting your baby from the sun, choosing the right sunscreen is super important. Babies have delicate skin, which makes them more prone to heat rashes, burns, and the harmful effects of UV rays. Pediatricians usually recommend sunscreen use on babies starting at six months, and advise keeping younger babies out of direct sunlight and to use protective clothing instead during outdoor activities.

With summer approaching and tons of beach trips on the horizon, I wanted to share my top picks for the best sunscreens for babies (and kids!). Not all sunscreens are the same—some have better ingredients than others (I am big on finding non-toxic, safe ingredients in the products I use on my kids). So, let's dive into my top non-toxic recommendations to keep your children safe while they enjoy the sun!

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

What makes sunscreen non-toxic for babies?

To understand what makes a sunscreen non-toxic for babies, it's important to know some basics about sun protection. The two types of sunscreens are physical and chemical.

  1. Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, stay on the top of the skin (they're not absorbed) and act as a physical barrier against UV rays. Physical sunscreens use ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to protect the skin from the sun.
  2. Chemical sunscreens absorb into your skin to shield against UV rays.

When choosing a non-toxic sunscreen for your baby, look for physical or mineral sunscreens. These are less likely to irritate sensitive skin or cause allergic reactions, since the ingredients aren't absorbed.

Key ingredients to look for

When shopping for sunscreen for your baby, it's important to carefully read the ingredients list. Here are some key ingredients that are safe and effective for babies:

  1. Zinc oxide: This is one of the most common physical sunscreen ingredients and provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Titanium dioxide: Similar to zinc oxide, this mineral is also a physical sunscreen ingredient.

Regardless of which type of sunscreen you choose for your baby, make sure to avoid the following active ingredients:

  1. Oxybenzone: This is a chemical sunscreen ingredient that has been linked to allergies and hormone disruption. It is also harmful to marine life.
  2. Octinoxate: Another chemical sunscreen ingredient that has been found to disrupt hormones and cause skin irritation.
  3. Fragrance: Fragrances can be irritating to sensitive baby skin, and can cause an allergic reaction so it's best to avoid them altogether.
Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Tips for using sunscreen on babies

When using sunscreen on your baby, it's important to follow these tips for proper application and protection:

  1. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside to give it time to set.
  2. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more frequently if your baby is sweating or swimming.
  3. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for optimal protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  4. Cover all exposed skin, including the face, ears, neck, hands, and feet.
  5. Don't forget to protect your baby's scalp by using a hat.
  6. If possible, keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight altogether. Instead, seek shade or use an umbrella to provide protection.
  7. Don't rely solely on sunscreen for sun protection. Use other methods such as hats, clothing, and shade to minimize sun exposure.

What's the difference between adult and baby sunscreen?

You may be wondering if there's a difference between baby sunscreen and adult sunscreen. The answer is yes. Baby sunscreens are typically formulated with milder ingredients to minimize the risk of skin irritation and usually contain physical (mineral) blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that sit on the skin's surface and reflect UV rays. Many adult sunscreens are chemical-based which can be harsher on the skin. Nowadays, more adult sunscreens are being formulated with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide so you can alway look for those when shopping for yourself. 

Top Picks for Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen

Here are my top picks for mineral-based sunscreen for kids:

Thinksport Kids SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Badger Reef Safe Sunscreen, SPF 40 Sport Mineral Sunscreen

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Earth Mama Uber-Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Sunscreen Spray SPF30

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Thinkbaby SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick 

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

BLUE LIZARD Mineral Sunscreen Kids SPF 50+ Spray

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Babyganics SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Sun Bum Baby Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Pipette Baby Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 30

Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Tips for applying sunscreen on babies

Applying sunscreen on your little one can sometimes feel like a wrestling match, but there are a few tricks that can make the process easier and more efficient:

  1. Use a changing table: Place your baby on a changing table to apply sunscreen. This familiar setting can help them feel comfortable and contained, making it easier to reach all areas of their body.
  2. Invest in a sunscreen applicator: A sunscreen applicator with a sponge or brush can be super helpful at spreading sunscreen. It helps in applying the product evenly and quickly, which is essential with wiggly babies.
  3. Distract with toys or songs: Keeping your baby entertained with a toy or singing their favorite song can make the application process smoother. When they're distracted, they're less likely to fuss.
  4. Apply in sections: Breaking down the task into smaller sections can make it more manageable. Apply sunscreen to one arm or leg at a time, giving praise and encouragement as you go.
  5. Choose the right time: Timing is everything. Try to apply sunscreen when your baby is calm and happy, such as right after a nap or feeding.
Non-Toxic Baby Sunscreen: Top Picks for Sun Protection

Safety measures beyond sunscreen

In addition to sunscreen, dressing your baby in protective clothing is a simple and effective way to guard against harmful UV rays. Opt for long-sleeved shirts and pants made from lightweight, breathable fabrics that offer good coverage without causing overheating. Many brands now offer clothing with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which screens out a significant percentage of UV radiation. Don't forget about a wide-brimmed hat to protect their sensitive face, ears, and neck from sun damage.

Here are some of my favorite protective kids clothing and accessories for sun safety:

  1. Baby sun hat
  2. This rash guard and this zippered one
  3. Baby pool float with canopy or this one
  4. Beach tent
  5. Beach umbrella
  6. Baby swimsuit

I hope this list of non-toxic sunscreens helped you find the perfect one for your next beach trip–don’t forget to add any of these items to your baby registry checklist

For more on kids gear and traveling with kids, check out the travel section of my blog, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. I can’t wait to hear about the adventures you’re taking with your family!


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