The Best Sunscreen for Babies to Protect That Precious Brand-New Skin

Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen goes on easily, making it our favorite of the bunch

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Before heading outdoors, protecting your baby's skin from the sun is probably one of your top priorities. And while little ones should be kept out of direct sunlight to avoid sunburn, heatstroke, and other adverse effects from UVA and UVB rays, it’s still important to find the best sunscreen for babies 6 months and older. It's also good to utilize other protective measures such as SPF clothing to shield their skin if avoiding the sun is impossible.

Reviewed & Approved

We recommend the Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen because it’s easy to apply and doesn’t leave your baby’s skin feeling oily or sticky. We also recommend the Badger SPF 40 Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream because it moisturizes the baby’s skin and contains 97 percent organic ingredients.

Aside from selecting an appropriate SPF (a minimum of SPF 30, per the American Academy of Pediatrics), sunscreens should include safe and baby-friendly sunscreen ingredients. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized two ingredients as generally recognized safe and effective (GRASE) for general use: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The good news is these ingredients are found in many brands and are available in various forms, such as sticks and lotions. But this does require parents to take the time to read a sunscreen label carefully before purchase. 

“As a general rule, don't buy a product, and certainly don't put it on your baby, unless the ingredients are on the label and you understand what those ingredients are, and you don't want to be unduly impacted by marketing hype—for example, labels touting products as natural, fragrance-free, or dermatology tested—because it doesn’t really mean anything,” explains Elaine Siegfried, MD, professor of pediatrics and dermatology of Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center in St. Louis. We carefully read all the labels, used our experience with our own babies, and took doctors' advice and the latest research into account when choosing the baby sunscreens for this list.

Here are the 10 best sunscreens for babies to help you select the perfect one for your little one.

Best Overall: Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen

4.9
Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
Pros
  • Goes on easily

  • Good for sensitive skin

  • Pleasant texture

Cons
  • White residue if not rubbed in

This broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen lotion uses zinc oxide to protect your little one's sensitive skin from UVA/UVB rays while playing outdoors. Sun Bum is our best overall pick because while providing that excellent protection, the lotion applies easily and doesn't leave behind an oily texture or sticky feel. It is formulated with coconut oil, shea, and cocoa butter to hydrate their skin, too.

Like many mineral sunscreens, Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Lotion may leave behind a white cast if you don’t rub it in thoroughly. But once it's applied, this unscented, lightweight lotion is water-resistant and sweatproof for up to 80 minutes. Not to mention it's also paraben- and sulfate-free.

SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | Application: Lotion

Best Scented: Badger SPF 40 Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

Badger SPF 40 Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream

Badger

Pros
  • Pleasant fragrance

  • Sustainable

  • Water-resistant for 80 minutes

Cons
  • Thick consistency

  • Some may be sensitive to fragrance

Unlike many natural sunscreens formulated without fragrance, Badger SPF 40 Kids Mineral Sunscreen offers a slight tangerine and vanilla scent and plenty of sun protection. It’s developed from 97 percent organic ingredients, is cruelty-free, and offers broad-spectrum protection. In addition to being GMO-free, this sunscreen moisturizes the skin with beeswax, jojoba, and sunflower oil.

SPF: 40 | Active Ingredients: Uncoated zinc oxide | Application: Lotion

Best for Eczema: Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Designed for sensitive skin

  • National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance

  • Fragrance-free

Cons
  • Can be hard to apply to fidgety babies

  • White cast

Finding a sunscreen that is strong enough to protect baby’s skin from outside elements and UVA/UVB rays but gentle enough to not cause skin irritation is a must if your baby has sensitive skin or eczema. Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin has you and your baby covered thanks to a broad-spectrum formulation boasting natural ingredients, like zinc oxide and oat. This hypoallergenic mineral sunscreen has earned the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance and is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. 

We also love that this lotion is non-greasy and free of chemical ingredients parents prefer to avoid, like parabens and phthalates. It's also kind to baby’s sensitive eyes and provides 80 minutes of water resistance. Applying this thick, creamy lotion to a squirmy baby may also be challenging since you have to spend some time lathering the product onto your little one’s skin to avoid a white cast.

SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | Application: Lotion

Best for Easy Application: Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen

Babo Botanicals

Pros
  • Sheer and lightweight

  • Reef-safe

  • Made for sensitive skin

Cons
  • Some dislike the smell

Because babies’ skin is so delicate, it's essential to use sunscreen that doesn’t irritate it. Babo Botanicals Baby Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 has a gentle formulation without harsh chemicals or common allergens. We love that it provides 80 minutes of water-resistant coverage. It's also unscented and contains soothing ingredients, such as calendula, shea butter, sunflower oil, and jojoba, all of which help it spread easily on the skin and leave a minimal white cast.

SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | Application: Lotion

Best for Darker Skin: Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50

Black Girl Sunscreen Kids SPF 50

Black Girl Sunscreen

Pros
  • No white residue

  • Free of parabens, oxybenzone, and octinoxate

  • Water resistance for up to 80 minutes

Cons
  • May be greasy for some skin types

  • Chemical sunscreen with ingredients some try to avoid

This fragrance-free broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen lotion is specially designed for darker skin tones. Unlike mineral sunscreens, which can leave behind a white residue, this chemical sunscreen does not leave a white cast when applied to the skin. It's also infused with several natural ingredients, like avocado, sunflower seed oil, and chamomile. It doubles as an everyday moisturizer for your little one's face and body. However, this sunscreen does contain three active ingredients that get absorbed into the bloodstream—avobenzone, homosalate, and octisalate—and though they haven’t been proven to be harmful, the FDA has asked for more research on them.

SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate | Application: Lotion

Best Stick: Blue Lizard Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick

Blue Lizard Kids Mineral Sunscreen Kids.

Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to pack

  • Elmo label appeals to little ones

  • Blends in easily  

Cons
  • Small size

Being able to reach into a diaper bag and pull out an easy-to-apply, broad-spectrum sunscreen that hasn’t spilled on anything is one of the perks of using a sunscreen stick. This sunscreen is free of parabens, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, which can be irritating to babies’ skin. Instead, it has zinc oxide and nourishing ingredients, like aloe vera, vitamin E, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil. The stick form is super easy to apply and blends in quickly. Plus, any older baby who recognizes Elmo’s face will have happy associations when it’s time to re-apply.

SPF: 50+ Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide Application: Stick

Best Water Resistant: Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone

Pros
  • Low cost

  • Mineral-based

  • Fragrance-free

Cons
  • White cast

  • Lotion can be runny

This tear-free, broad-spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen is made with nourishing botanicals, tea leaf, sea kelp, and lotus to keep baby’s skin moisturized. Unlike most Coppertone sunscreens we grew up with, this version is fragrance-free and does not contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA, parabens, or dyes. The sunscreen provides 80 minutes of water resistance and is easy to apply, though some have complained that the bottle doesn’t always stay closed in bags, so watch out for spills.

SPF: 50 | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | Application: Lotion

Best for Sensitive Skin: Thinkbaby Baby Sunscreen Natural Sunblock

Thinkbaby Baby Sunscreen Natural Sunblock

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Reef-friendly

  • Not oily

Cons
  • Leaves a white cast

  • Thick

This UVA/UVB broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide and is free of PABA, parabens, avobenzone, oxybenzone, and other chemicals. Once applied to the skin, this lotion offers 80 minutes of water resistance. Another thing we love about this sunscreen? It's cruelty-free and reef-friendly. You will need to take a few seconds to thoroughly massage the lotion into the skin because it is thick and creamy. The upside of a thick sunscreen is that you can tell where you’ve applied it to your baby and where you’ve missed a spot.

SPF: 50+ | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide  Application: Lotion

Best Value: Babyganics SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

Babyganics SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen

Babyganics

Pros
  • Great value

  • Non-allergenic

  • Broad spectrum

Cons
  • Applies white

For parents who worry about sunscreen potentially burning their baby’s eyes, this sunscreen is water-resistant, sweatproof, and tear-free. Aside from being tear-free, Babyganics Mineral Sunscreen provides UVA/UVB broad-spectrum protection and offers 80 minutes of water resistance. In addition, it does not contain parabens, PABA, phthalates, nanoparticles, or fragrances. We love that this lotion is not greasy, but it does go on thick and white, so be prepared to spend some time applying it to your little one’s skin before heading outdoors. Another plus: It’s non-allergenic for even the most sensitive skin types. 

SPF: 50+ Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide Application: Lotion

Final Verdict

Our standout pick is the Sun Bum Baby Bum Mineral Sunscreen because it’s easy to apply, free from irritating ingredients, and doesn’t leave your baby’s skin feeling oily or sticky. We also recommend the Badger SPF 40 Kids Mineral Sunscreen Cream because it moisturizes the baby’s skin and contains 97 percent organic ingredients.

How We Selected the Best Sunscreen for Babies

First, we spoke with pediatric dermatologist Elaine Siegfried, MD, a professor of pediatrics and dermatology in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Dermatology, at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Sophie J. Balk, MD, attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York and a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and Climate Change; and Andrew Garner, MD, PhD, FAAP, clinical professor of pediatrics, CWRU School of Medicine, to determine what sunscreens are safe and effective for babies. Then, we took their advice, researched various brands and applications, and selected them based on active ingredients, price, and general reviews.

What to Look for in Sunscreen for Babies

First, remember that sunscreen should never be your baby’s only protection from the sun, especially if they’re younger than 6 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that if a younger baby absolutely can’t be kept out of the sun and protected by clothing, shade, and/or a hat, you may apply a small amount of sunscreen on exposed skin.

"It's important to use a combination of sun protection methods, not just sunscreen: Wearing clothing and hats, timing activities outside of peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daylight Saving Time, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Standard Time), seeking shade and consulting the Ultraviolet (UV) Index," Dr. Balk tells Verywell Family. Other accessories to use include: 

  • Sunglasses (look for a label that states the product absorbs 99–100 percent of the full UV spectrum)
  • Long-sleeved, lightweight cotton shirts and pants
  • Wide-brimmed hats that shade the cheeks and back of the neck
  • Swimwear with a high-protection rating

When selecting a sunscreen, there are a few things to look for. First, opt for broad-spectrum sunscreens as they offer protection from UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin and are associated with more long-term damage. Second, pick an SPF 30 or higher. Then, take time to read the ingredients label. 

Ingredients

“I would stick with zinc oxide as the active sunscreen ingredient,” Dr. Siegfried advises.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two active ingredients that the FDA has deemed “safe for use” in sunscreen. These ingredients, known as mineral sunscreen or physical sunscreen, work by blocking the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens with ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octinoxate, absorb the rays instead. The issue is that because these ingredients are also absorbed into the bloodstream, there is a bigger concern about whether they are harmful. A 2019 report stated that there is still insufficient data for the safety of the following 12 active sunscreen ingredients:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Avobenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Ensulizole
  • Homosalate
  • Meradimate
  • Octinoxate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Padimate O
  • Sulisobenzone

It’s important to note that the FDA and the American Academy of Dermatology have not yet told consumers to avoid those ingredients, as the top priority is still to make sure people use sunscreens to prevent skin cancer.

Application

Sunscreen sticks and lotions or creams are the most preferred application types when used correctly. While easy and quick to apply to a squirming baby, sprays make it easy for a parent to miss spots on the baby's skin and do not always result in even application. Inhalation of aerosols is another concern.

“The FDA has not approved sunscreen wipes, towelettes, powders, body washes, or shampoos, so these should be avoided,” Dr. Balk says. "Sprays are convenient, but parents need to make sure children don't inhale them. They can spray their hands first, then apply them to the children. In general, sunscreen is applied to uncovered skin while avoiding the mouth and eyes.”

Taking time to apply sunscreen to exposed skin is key to the proper application and the best way to keep your baby safe from sunburn. Before you leave the house for a day at the park or any time spent outdoors, take time to apply sunscreen on their exposed skin. This application includes the back of the hands, ears, back of the neck, feet, back of the knees, and the top of the head if your baby has patches of hair that leave skin vulnerable to the sun. Make sure to read the sunscreen label for directions on how long it takes to absorb into the skin since you’ll want to apply it before heading outside (typically 15 minutes). Then, remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day to avoid sunburn. Most sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours, but check the product’s label for more direction. 

“Apply sunscreen frequently—too often is seldom a problem, but too infrequent can make for an uncomfortable tomorrow,” Dr. Garner says.

Skin Type

Baby’s skin is sensitive and delicate, making it imperative to lather them in a sunscreen that does not aggravate baby eczema or irritate their skin. For babies who experience eczema, moisture is a must. 

"One way to think about eczema is to consider it an ‘allergy’ [to] dry skin,” Dr. Garner explains. “If you are allergic to cats, you avoid cats. If you are allergic to dry skin, you avoid dry skin. Moisturizers are the first-line treatment, and continued use will prevent recurrences. Hypoallergenic formulations like Aveeno or CeraVe can be very helpful, but my experience is that what really matters is not which moisturizer is used but how often it is being used.”

The National Eczema Association (NEA) provides a list of approved sunscreens that play nicely with a baby's sensitive skin. To earn the NEA Seal of Acceptance, sunscreen must use mineral-based ingredients (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide), be alcohol-free, protect from UVA and UVB rays (also known as broad-spectrum), and be SPF 30 or higher.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can babies under 6 months wear sunscreen?

    Yes, babies under 6 months can wear sunscreen; however, the AAP suggests sunscreen be used on small areas of the body's skin when a baby cannot be kept out of direct sunlight.

    One crucial reminder: To avoid ingestion, parents need to ensure that they're not putting sunscreen-covered body parts into their mouth, Dr. Balk notes.

    If you have questions about when it's safe to use sunscreen on your baby or need recommendations on sunscreens, you should reach out to your pediatrician for help. 

  • What SPF should I use on my baby?

    Look for an SPF of at least 30, and make sure it provides broad-spectrum protection, which prevents damage from both UVA and UVB rays. It’s also important to make sure to apply sunscreen thoroughly and to reapply frequently.

  • Do I need to use sunscreen if I keep my baby out of the sun and in SPF-rated clothing?

    Yes, you should use a combination of measures to protect a baby’s delicate skin. If you’re in the sun, find some shade or use a stroller canopy to avoid sunburn, heatstroke, and other adverse effects from UVA and UVB rays. Use sunscreen along with lightweight long-sleeve shirts, hats, pants, SPF clothing, and sunglasses. Another suggestion: Time activities outside of peak sun hours.

Why Trust Verywell Family 

Ambrosia V. Brody is a California-based editor, journalist, and mother to three. She has worked as a professional journalist for more than 16 years. When she isn't writing, you can find her at the library, Starbucks, or the park with her kids.

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5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Sunscreen: how to help protect your skin from the sun.

  2. Federal Register. Sunscreen drug products for over-the-counter human use.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. American Academy of Dermatology comments on follow-up study on absorption of sunscreen ingredients.

  4. HealthyChildren.org. Sunburn: treatment & prevention.

  5. National Eczema Association. What sunscreens are best for people with eczema?