Baby and Toddler-Friendly Sunscreens

May 30, 2007

kid on the beachWhen my family hits the great outdoors for a walk, hike, or swim, I always try to remember to put lots of sunscreen on them. I usually don’t do much more than buy what’s on sale, and make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 to 40. I decided to do a little research on the subject to find out what really is the best sunscreen for children. One thing I discovered is that it’s important to buy a sunscreen or sunblock with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I also found out the sunscreen and sunblock are totally different; I thought the two terms were interchangeable, and they aren’t. Sunblock physically blocks the sun's UV rays, whereas sunscreen actually absorbs the ultraviolet light so it doesn’t reach your skin.

When you buy a sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide (which is recommended) it sits on top of the skin and forms a barrier against the sun's rays. When using a chemical sunscreen without either of those two ingredients, your skin actually absorbs the sunscreen, which may cause irritation or allergic reactions. It doesn't matter if you buy a so called "broad-spectrum" product, just make sure that it contains the all important zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both.

When applying sunscreen, it is recommended to lay it on thick, especially to the areas that sunburn easily, and make sure that it is waterproof, even if your children are not going swimming.

Here are a few good choices I gleaned off the web (but by all means not the only ones):

  • Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion SPF 45; with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • Banana Boat Baby Tear Free UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 50; with titanium dioxide
  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream SPF 30 Baby; with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • Coppertone Kids Spectra 3 SPF 50 Sunblock Lotion; with zinc oxide
  • Coppertone Water Babies SPECTRA3 Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50; with zinc oxide