When is it OK for a baby to wear sunscreen?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Sunscreen is OK to use on babies 6 months or older. Younger babies should use other forms of sun protection.

If your baby is 6 months or older, liberally use sunscreen. Also, avoid exposing your baby to the sun during peak hours — generally 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and dress your baby in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses.

If your baby is younger than 6 months, keep him or her out of direct sunlight. Protect your baby from sun exposure by dressing him or her in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses. Make sure he or she doesn't get overheated, however.

When choosing baby sunscreen, pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if your baby is spending time in the water or perspiring.

To avoid irritating your baby's skin and eyes, use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Avoid using products that combine sunscreen and the insect repellent DEET, since sunscreen must be regularly reapplied and insect repellent typically doesn't need to be reapplied.

June 08, 2016