Is sunscreen safe for babies and young children?
In general, yes, sunscreens are safe for babies and young children.
Because there’s been little study of sunscreens’ long-term effects and effectiveness on children younger than 6 months, health authorities generally recommend keeping newborns out of the sun and covering their skin so sunscreen isn’t needed. If necessary, experts say using small amounts of any sunscreen is fine.
For children older than 6 months, parents don’t need to worry about using sunscreen labeled for babies or children because the active ingredients are largely the same. Broadly, researchers recommend lotions over sprays and SPFs over 30. Here’s a simple breakdown of all the normal labeling language.
If you’re looking for a particular product, the independent, third-party product review organizations Consumer Reports and The Sweethome reached consensus on Coppertone Waterbabies SPF 50 as a safe and effective sunscreen for anyone over the age of 6 months old.
Why do so many other websites say sunscreen is harmful and unsafe?
Because they don’t understand the science or they’re simply sensationalizing to try and get attention for themselves.
There is a lot of misinformation about sunscreens. Many of the most popular articles we’ve found at the top of Google search results blatantly distorted scientific research available elsewhere online. These websites often labeled certain ingredients as dangerous, misrepresenting and oversimplifying the evidence, while providing no direct sources for their own claims. They then promote other types of sunscreens – often “natural” or homemade – despite evidence of their ineffectiveness.
Major health authorities and respected publishers clearly state that these fears are completely overblown at the moment.
“Current scientific data does not support claims that sunscreen ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health. Rather, evidence supports the benefits of applying sunscreen to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays,” reads a 2017 statement from the American Academy of Dermatology.
Why should I trust you?
Our articles are short and direct so parents can quickly get the answers they need, but there’s lengthy research behind everything we publish. If you’d like to check our facts, here are the best sources we found and used for this article:
- Best Sunscreen for Babies and Kids from Consumer Reports.
- Why some people worry that sunscreen might be bad for you from Popular Science.
- Current sunscreen controversies: a critical review from the Photodermatology, Photoimmunology and Photomedicine journal.
- Don’t Let the Internet Scare You About Sunscreen by The Sweethome.
- When is it OK for a baby to wear sunscreen? from Mayo Clinic.
- Shining a Light on ‘Natural’ Sunscreen from Consumer Reports.
- Sun Safety: Information for Parents About Sunburn & Sunscreen from HealthyChildren.org.