So you’ve probably heard NOT to put sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months. (Or maybe you haven’t, and now you’re like, WHA?? No sunscreen for babies?)
And you can probably guess that the reason for that is, of course, that babies’ skin is less mature and more sensitive. But just in case you were looking for a deeper scientific explanation, basically, there are two:
Babies Don’t Have an “Acid Mantle”
This is a layer of skin that PROTECTS it from bacteria/viruses and toxins.
This not only means you should be extra careful to try and shield your baby from getting sick (not that you weren’t already doing that!!) BUT you can’t use sunscreen because they have no barrier (acid mantle) to protect them from TOXIC chemicals in sunscreen.
Babies Have a…Lot of Skin
Yeah, that sounds like a weird thing to say! But what I mean is, they have a lot of skin compared to their body weight, vs. an adult.
What the heck does that matter? Well, the more skin you have, the more toxic chemicals pass through the barrier. Adults are heavy enough that they can “withstand” more chemicals, but not babies!
So what should you be doing instead? Well, what you’re already doing: keeping your infant out of the sun as much as possible, especially between 10 – 2!! Studies show that summers are getting hotter and it’s more important than ever to keep your baby INDOORS or COVERED! YES – you still want them to get a LITTLE sun for that vitamin D – but just not TOO much sun!
But…what if you just can’t? Well, let’s see…
Someone TOLD Me About Sunscreen for Babies, Even Infants!
OK, I was just about to get to that! 😉
It’s true — despite everything I just said, the American Academy of Pediatrics JUST started saying a little bit of sunscreen is OK for infants. That is, if you have NO other option than for your little one to be outside with no shade. (And hopefully that doesn’t happen often anyway, right?) The AAP now says, it’s OK to apply a bit of “baby-safe” sunscreen, 30 – 50 SPF on the:
- back of hands
- tops of feet
What is “Baby-Safe Sunscreen”??
Well, believe it or not, it’s the same sunscreen adults should be using…as in, YOU’RE probably using the wrong sunscreen right now!!
Most sunscreen is actually pretty harmful, and can cause cancer as much as preventing it…!
Dr. Arthur Perry, who teaches at Columbia University and who’s also appeared on Dr. Oz, says CHEMICAL sunscreen (which is, y’know, most common brands of sunscreen) is what’s dangerous.
One major offender: oxybenzone. Check the back of your sunscreen for this ingredient! It’s an endocrine disruptor, and your endocrine system is responsive for hormone release, and your reproductive function! So as you can imagine slathering something on your skin that gets absorbedin your bloodstream and DISRUPTS that is no good!
But what’s totally OK — as sunscreen for babies and for adults — is MINERAL sunscreen.
So when choosing sunscreen for your infant (to be applied sparingly, only when there is no alternative) OR yourself, look for these:
- zinc oxide
- titanium dioxide
These stay on the surface of your skin! They don’t go into your bloodstream.
Plus, a huge bonus: not only is it SAFER that they stay on top of the skin and don’t get absorbed…It also makes them a heck of a lot more effective too! Most sunscreens actually become 90% less effective in an hour. (That’s one you’ve probably heard before too.)
So to recap, sunscreen for babies (under 6 months old):
– Should only be used SPARINGLY, when you CAN’T keep them in the shade
– Should be MINERAL sunscreen…and YOU need to switch for yourself too!