Downer of the Day: the American Skin Cancer Foundation says that a single sunburn can double a baby’s chances of getting skin cancer later in life.
I’m not a fan of those odds.
Know what else I’m not a fan of?
Peeling dead nasty layers of skin off your husband’s back?
That’s why God gave me older kids.
But this article is about babies, and the thought of having to peel dead skin off an infant gives me the sads…so let’s jump right into how to choose a good, safe baby sunscreen.
I Spy… 6 Words You Want to
See on Your Baby’s Sunscreen Label
Here’s a short list of the keywords and phrases you want to see on your baby’s sunscreen. Don’t panic if you don’t see them all, just shoot for most.
- “Broad-Spectrum” ~ This means it covers UVA and UVB rays.
- “For Infants” ~ Babies have less melanin in their skin than adults. If you can’t find one for babies, choose the next closest: “For Kids”.
- “SPF 15″ (up to 50) ~ The higher the SPF, the more sun protection your baby has. This UV Index reveals how much protection you need on any given day.
- “PABA-Free” ~ the old fashioned PABA formulas have been linked to skin irritation. If you can’t find that phrase on the bottle, look on the ingredients list. Aminobenzoic acid is PABA, so do a happy dance if it’s not printed there.
- “Expiration date…” ~ Yes, a safe baby sunscreen will have an expiration date listed. The baby sunscreen you purchased when your oldest was in diapers? TOSS IT. (Me? …a hoarder? Never!)
- “Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Mexoyrl SX, or Avobenzone” ~ These are active ingredients the FDA recommends for a safe baby sunscreen.
What a Safe Baby Sunscreen Won’t Say
Here are the things you DON’T want to see on your baby’s sunscreen label.
- “SPF 100″ (greater than 50) ~ Studies haven’t shown that any product over SPF 50 is effective at blocking rays. In some cases, it could backfire, giving parents a false sense of assurance. Anything that brags more then SPF 50 protection is not a safe baby sunscreen and should be physically thrown at the wall for false advertising.
- “Vitamin A” (retinyl palmitate) ~ laboratory tests have linked this to skin tumors and cancer.
- “Oxybenzone” ~ disrupts hormones and can trigger skin allergies.
The Top 3 Safest of the Safe Baby Sunscreens
No, you don’t have to take my word for it. (I’m just one mom of millions.)
These are the top 3 brands selected by the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide. (People who do this for a living…here.)
Adorable Baby Sunscreen
- Comes as a stick or as a lotion.
- SPF: 30
- Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide
- Find it: Amazon $25
Aveeno Baby Mineral Block
- A stick for squirmy faces
- SPF: 50
- Active ingredient: Titanium Dioxide
- Find it: Amazon $10
- Comes in lotion and stick form
- SPF: 50
- Active ingredient: Octinoxate
- Find it: Amazon $24 for 2
How to Perform an Allergy Test
Despite that these sunscreens are as safe as baby sunscreens can be, there are some babies out there (like my EM) who just have extremely sensitive skin.
If your baby is just reacting to everything, try a mineral-based baby sunscreen like BabyGanics.
A word of advice.
If this is the first time you’re using a particular brand on your baby, do a small skin test first.
Otherwise, you’ll find he’s reacted at the beach. A nice, itchy bumpy rash all over his body….making Fun Family Time officially over.
Follow these steps to catch an allergy early:
- Rub on a little sunscreen over a small area of his back.
- Wait 30 minutes.
- Look for signs of skin irritation (redness, bumps, etc.)
If you don’t see anything after 30 minutes, you’re good to go!
If you do see a reaction of some kind, rinse it off with soap and water and start over with a different brand.
Sun Protection: A Battle You Must Win
Sun protection is one battle you really want to win for your kids.
Yes, he probably won’t like the stuff you’re smearing on his face, especially since it’s using precious seconds he could be digging through the sandbox.
But you will smear that stuff on anyway, dagnabit! (Feel free to utter your first “Because I said so!” It feels as good as you think.)
Every baby (even dark-skinned ones!) should use a baby safe sunscreen when outdoors.
Make her wear that sun hat.
When my EM was 8 months old, she and I had the Epic Sun Hat Battle of ’07 (as it thus has become known).
My entire family was going to spend the day at Living History Farms in Des Moines, IA. Eight plus hours walking around in the hot July sun. I had picked out a cute sun hat, just for this occasion.
She, evidently, didn’t agree with my definition of “cute”.
I’d put it on her little head. She would grab it, grunt, and throw it (for emphasis) on the ground.
(Except eventually those grunts turned into protest screams.)
My Dad timed it.
We went back and forth alone next to the minivan for twenty-three minutes.
I never raised my voice, I never lost my cool.
Because I knew, without a single doubt, that I was going to win. I was prepared to sit there in the minivan for the next two hours. I had my heels so far dug into the ground I knew nothing this pint-sized little pipsqueak could do was going to bowl me over.
After twenty-three minutes, she finally got the picture: Mama was not budging. She wore the hat the rest of the day.
Win the battle. Calmly persist.
You were made for this.