Protecting baby's skin in the sun - the best sunscreens for children

Are you shopping around for suncream to keep your baby or toddler safe while enjoying their summer holiday?

There are a lot of suncreams on the market, so it can be difficult to pick the right one for your child. Having said that, it’s possible you prefer to just make a grab for the cheapest one on the shelf that promises to be child-friendly and kind to sensitive skin. 

Most of us (me included) will often go for the one with the nicest packaging and the most attractive price. 

That’s great, but did you know that not all suncreams are created equally? It’s actually really important to not only look at the SPF factor, but also the UVA star rating. 

I’m going to get a little bit technical here, but please bear with me!

What’s the difference between SPF and UVA?

SPF refers to the amount of ultraviolet B radiation protection a cream contains. SPFs go from 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer. 

For children, you’ll want to use an SPF of at least 30. 

The UVA rating is measured by stars, with five stars indicating the best level of protection from ultraviolet A radiation. You will often find the UVA rating on the back of the bottle inside a circle. 

I did not used to know this fact, and so was shocked when I noticed how many big name brands of suncream had UVA ratings of just three or less. 

The NHS recommends we used a minimum of four-star rating UVA protection to keep our skin safe in the sun. 

Buying a suncream for kids

So when it comes to actually purchasing a suncream for children, which is the best one?

Well the simple answer is that if you go for something with a minimum of SPF 30 and a four, preferably five, star UVA rating then you can’t go far wrong. 

But if you’re struggling with the sheer volume of choice, I thought I would share a list of 15 of the best suncreams based on the study by the Environmental Working Group in America. 

These suncreams have undergone testing to ensure they are safe, and this list is specifically targeted at children’s creams. 

You can check out the EWG’s full list on their website. All of these products in the list scored one, which is the best rating, in the EWG’s testing. In the 2019 study of children’s suncreams, 68 baby and child sunscreens scored a one.

Here are 10 of the best suncreams on their list (this post contains affiliate links). 

The best sunscreens for babies under six months

The Bare Republic Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 scores a one (the highest rating) in the EWG study. This is a simple lotion bottle, however you can also get this product in stick form for easier application. It’s worth noting however that the stick form isn’t the one that the EWG has singled out as among the best sunscreens, so bear that in mind when making your choice.

The Blue Lizard Australian Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Baby, SPF 30+, contains no nasty chemicals that can damage coral reefs. It’s water and sweat resistant so it’s ideal for the entire family.

The bottle has a magic touch, as it turns pink as it heats up in the sun. This can help you to teach kids about the importance of applying sunscreen in the sun.

The Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 is tear and fragrance-free. This is a brilliant choice for sensitive skin and is easy to apply.

If you prefer chemical-free formulas, then Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 32 is a great choice! It’s made with ingredients including jojoba oil and shea butter so it moisturises the skin as well as provides protection in the sun.

Sunblocz Baby & Kids Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Cream, SPF 50 is water resistant, easy to apply and smells amazing. It’s non oily, so your hands won’t feel greasy after applying it.

Sunblocz is made with all-natural ingredients, so it’s a brilliant choice for parents who prefer not to use products with a lengthy list of chemicals in them.

The thinkbaby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+ has been topping the EWG best sunscreen charts since it was created in 2010. The brains behind the lotion prefer to use non-toxic ingredients and have made a mineral-based sunscreen with a non-oily feel.

It’s also certified cruelty-free, vegan and gluten-free.

The best sunscreens for babies over six months and toddlers 

Of course you can continue to use the sunscreen in the babies list as your child grows. If you like the brand and the product then stick with it. 

But I’ve selected a few creams that are aimed more at children in general rather than baby-specific. These will be great for older babies and toddlers.

First up we have a sunscreen lotion from the Sun Bum range. I love their products, and not just because the name is cute.

The sunscreen is made from plant-based ingredients and promises to be kind on sensitive skin. Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 UVA/UVB Face and Body Protection is fragrance free and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Not only does the Caribbean Sol Kid Kare Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30, get a score of one from the EWG, but it also promises to be reef-safe. This means the formula does not contain any chemicals that can damage sea life.

The Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50, is ideal for sensitive skin. It’s hypoallergenic plus has a special formula that moisturises the skin to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

One of the toughest parts of applying sunscreen is when you have to put it on your child’s face. Between worrying about poking them in the eye, their constant fidgeting and potentially getting some product in their eye, it’s seriously stressful.

The Coppertone lotion promises to be tear free, so it won’t irritate the eyes.

If your little one will be in and out of the sea this summer, then Sunology Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Kids, SPF 50 is a great choice.

It’s water resistant for 80 minutes and certified cruelty-free. It’s easy to apply and leaves no residue.

Sun safety tips for babies and toddlers

If you’re planning a summer holiday soon, here are some extra tips for keeping your little ones safe in the sunshine.

  • The best protection from the sun is to cover up. Wear hats and sunglasses, and cover the skin with T-shirts.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  • Give children some sunscreen-free time (not around lunch when the sun is at its most intense). This means their skin some absorb some of the valuable vitamin D from the sun. Try this for around 20 minutes every day.
  • Reapply sunscreen immediately after swimming.
  • Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen.
  • Consider using a baby beach tent to give your baby a shady spot when on the beach.

How to apply suncream

According to the NHS many people do not apply enough suncream. You need to be really liberal with the stuff in order to get the best protection for your child’s skin. 

As a rough guide you’ll need two teaspoons of sunscreen for your head, arms and neck if you’re an adult. So let’s take that to at least one teaspoon for toddlers and babies. 

You will need two tablespoons of suncream if you are covering your entire body. 

If you are using a stick sunscreen then be sure to use plenty of it, as some studies have shown people tend to use less when using a stick. 

If you’re worried about your child sleeping poorly at night and being safe in the heat, check out my post featuring lots of safety tips for summer.

Also read this post if you’re planning your first holiday with your baby.

I hope you found these tips and sunscreen recommendations useful. Where are you off to on your summer holiday?



10 best baby and toddler sunscreens as recommended by the EWG
How to choose the right sunscreen for your baby