When I was a child, sunburns were common. We used suntan lotion to get tans not to protect us from the sun. Fortunately for today’s children, we know better. Sun damage in childhood can cause health problems as adults. Although it is important to expose your children to natural sunlight for vitamin absorption, these periods should be limited and occur during off peak hours.
When it comes to sunscreen ingredients, I trust the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to tell me what is safe. EWG recommends:
Which sunscreens are best for children?
Since kids are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun and to harmful effects of chemical exposure, you want to make sure you choose a sunscreen that is rated highly in terms of both effectiveness (against both UVA and UVB radiation) and safety. Use EWG’s guide to help you find one. If your child is going to be swimming or playing in the water look for a sunscreen that says it is water resistant. Avoid sprays, powders and products with bug repellant. Make sure to apply sunscreen generously before going out and reapply often. (Don’t believe claims that a product will remain effective for a certain period of time, as these are not always reliable.) Infants under 6 months need special protection Ñ at this age, a fair-skinned baby does not have melanin proteins for sun protection and needs to be kept out of the sun. The AAP recommends that you avoid using sunscreen on children younger than 6 months unless protective shade and clothing are not available. In this case you can apply a minimal amount to exposed skin (AAP 2008). Remember that sunscreen is just one part of a sun-healthy lifestyle. Limiting sun exposure and wearing protective clothing are even more important than wearing sunscreen.