Sunscreens are not recommended for babies under 6 months of age. Babies are more prone to sunburn than adults because their skin is thinner and their body’s protective tanning response isn’t developed. Keep them in the shade of a tree, stroller canopy or umbrella. Even in the shade, however, children can sometimes burn from reflected rays off of sand or water. Physical barriers such as hats and cool long sleeve clothing can be helpful in preventing burns. Be aware that many fabrics allow sun to pass through particularly when wet.
Pick a sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays, they both can cause skin cancer. Avoid sunscreens with PABA or built in bug repellent, they can irritate the skin and cause rashes.
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen (even waterproof sunscreen) every two to three hours. Don’t forget to cover little feet, noses and ears! Those areas burn quickly. Encourage your child to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes as well. They should be shatterproof to avoid injury to their eyes.
Always use a minimum SPF of 15. If a child normally burns in 10 minutes without sunscreen the use of sunscreen with 15 spf will allow them to remain in the sun 15 times longer than the usual 10 minutes (2.5 hours) before acquiring the same degree of burn.