Posted by Vered on October 27 2010
The short answer: Yes and no. If you read the label on most sunscreens, you will probably notice that it says to use on babies older than six months. The concern with younger babies is that their skin might absorb more sunscreen than older children and adults’ skin, resulting in a greater risk of adverse reaction; and that the sunscreen will further impair their already slightly impaired cooling mechanism.
So, with very young babies, it’s best to avoid applying sunscreen to large areas of the skin. To protect them from the sun, dress them in light but long clothing; use hats and canopies; and stay in the shade, especially between 10am and 4pm. Use sunscreen only on small areas of skin such as their face, avoiding the eyes of course.
After the age of six months, it’s fine to apply sunscreen to your baby’s entire body. To avoid unnecessary chemicals, it’s probably a good idea to use a sunscreen formulated with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Experiment with different types of sunscreen to find the one that does not trigger a skin reaction and that your baby tolerates, and – if a rash persists – consult with your pediatrician.
During my own childhood, in the seventies, getting sunburned at least once was pretty much part of each and every summer. But now we know so much more about how the sun damages our skin and about protecting our skin from the sun. Thinking back to those non-broad-spectrum-SPF-4 sunscreens of my childhood, no wonder we got burned so often!
While the limitations on using sunscreen on very young babies could limit your own plans, especially if you enjoy spending time outdoors, remember that it’s just for six months, and that you’re doing this to protect your baby from the harmful rays of the sun and from possible adverse reaction to the chemicals found in sunscreens.