Babies And Sunscreen, Who Knew?

Dad and Hank, catching some rays.

Raise your hand if you knew you shouldn’t apply sunscreen to a baby under six months!

Well.  You’re a better parent than I.

Until I read this mom’s Stupid Parenting Archives, I was apparently slathering poison all over my child:

While slathering my 4-month old baby in sunscreen, another mom at the daycare gasps, “You NEVER put sunscreen on a baby younger than 6 months! Don’t you know that?” “But I don’t want him to get sunburned!” I explained. “THEN PUT A HAT ON HIM AND KEEP HIM OUT OF THE SUN.” Good to know.

Right.  Here I was thinking I’m an excellent mother, because, of course, not only have I put sunscreen on little Hank’s nose, I regularly gooped sunscreen on my daughter before she was 6-months-old as well.  But apparently some of the most widely-used chemicals in sunblock could be harmful to, not only our babies’ but our own health.

As Babble’s Heather Turgeon reports, “one of the chemicals under closest scrutiny is oxybenzone, used in over half the sunscreens on the market. It is absorbed through the skin, and is thought to disrupt hormone function and cause allergic reactions. In particular, scientists suggest we keep it away from kids and pregnant women.

Well hell. Here I thought I was doing my momly duty and protecting my sweet baby from harmful rays, when I was slowly poisoning him to death? And maybe my 2-year-old daughter as well?

So the next time my husband was perusing the sunscreens at Walmart in search of the right one for Henry I said no! Don’t you know that babies under 6 months aren’t supposed to wear sunscreen? He didn’t believe me so we looked at all the labels and, sure enough, it’s right there on every bottle.

But it seems to me that a little sunscreen has to be better than risking the sun burning those tender newborn skins. And there’s got to be a better way than covering your baby in clothes in the middle of July or hiding out in the house with the shades drawn during daylight hours. Sure enough, I found this on the Fisher-Price website:

Since babies under 6 months of age have thinner skin, they may absorb more of the sunscreen, and the long-term effects of sunscreen were unknown. The old recommendation was only to use sunscreen on babies over 6 months of age; but to keep babies under 6 months out of direct sun and covered by protective clothing, and not to use sunscreen. However, in the past two years, the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated that since no evidence of harm was found from small amounts of sunscreen on babies’ skin, it is considered safe to use sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months of age when they can’t be completely protected by shade and clothing.

Okay. Yes. That makes more sense to me then not using sunscreen at all when we’re going to be outside for, say, a 4th of July party or a family hike with Henry in the Bjorn, and can’t entirely avoid the sun’s harmful rays on little noses and toeses.  I found other places on the internet where experts recommend the same thing:  a little sunscreen is better than a sunburn.

Babble has compiled a list of the best/safest sunscreens for kids that I am currently checking out.  You may want to have a gander. It’s detailed and super helpful. Also, check out this article I wrote for Strollerderby today. The FDA has issued new sunscreen labeling rules. Words like “sunblock” and “waterproof” are now banned. Gone forever! Because they’re aren’t true!

There are a lot of other big changes coming to sunscreen labels that you’ll want to check outl

So what about you? Are you a No-Sunscreen-Under-6-Months kind of mama? Or are you dabbing a little here and there if it’s chemical-free?

Article Posted 7 years Ago

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