Sunscreen Guidelines

Summer is almost here and with the weather getting warmer many people are excited to spend some more time outdoors. Whether swimming, hiking or playing out in the yard, it's important to protect your child from painful sunburns and harmful UV rays.

Sun Safety Tips for Babies

Some things to keep in mind this summer when outside with infants younger than 6 months:

  • Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible. Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight. Try and move your baby to a shady area like under a tree, umbrella or stroller canopy.
  • Make sure your child wears clothing that covers and protects his/her sensitive skin. Use cool, lightweight fabrics, but make sure they are thick enough to block out the sun. If you hold the fabric against your hand and its sheer enough that you can see through it, it probably doesn’t offer enough protection.
  • Make sure your baby wears a brimmed hat that provides sufficient shade (covers face, neck and ears) at all times.
  • When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF on infants under 6 months to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands. Remember, it takes 30 minutes for the sunscreen to be effective. If your baby gets sunscreen in his/her eye from rubbing, gently rinse it out with water and a clean cloth if needed.
  • Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or dehydration. These include fussiness, redness and excessive crying.
  • If your baby is becoming sunburned, get them out of the sun as soon as possible and apply cold compresses to the affected areas. Do not use medicated lotions unless instructed by your pediatrician.
  • Remember to keep your baby hydrated. Give your child formula or breast milk if you’re out in the sun for more than a few minutes. Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the liquids.

Sunscreen Use for Children

For children/babies older than 6 months:

  • Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed areas, especially on the face, nose, ears, feet, hands, and even backs of the knees. Rub it in well.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. It needs time to absorb into the skin to fully protect.
  • Use sunscreen any time you or your child spend time outdoors. Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days because the sun's UV rays can get through the clouds. Also, UV rays can bounce back from water, sand, snow, and concrete.
  • Choose a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel drying.
  • The sun's rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to keep out of the sun during those hours.

We hope this gives you some ideas on how to keep your child protected this summer. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call our office.


American Academy of Pediatrics