At the beach, slathered in sunscreen, should you put
sunscreen on your 5-month-old? Not usually,
according to Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., a pediatrician
at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months
out of the sun,” Sachs says, “and to particularly
avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10
a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most
Sunscreens are recommended for children and adults.
What makes babies so different?
“Babies’ skin is less mature compared to adults, and
infants have a higher surface-area to body-weight
ratio compared to older children and adults,”
“Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure
to the chemicals in sunscreens may be much greater,
increasing the risk of side effects from the
“The best protection is to keep your baby in the
shade, if possible,” Sachs says. “If there’s no
natural shade, create your own with an umbrella or
the canopy of the stroller.”
“If there’s no way to keep an infant out of the sun,
you should check with your pediatrician about what
to do for your baby.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests
dressing infants in lightweight long pants,
long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the
neck to prevent sunburn.
Tight weaves are better than loose.
Keep in mind that while baseball caps are cute, they
don’t shade the neck and ears, sensitive areas for a
“Younger infants also don’t sweat like we do,” Sachs
says. “Sweat naturally cools the rest of us down
when we’re hot, but babies haven’t yet fully
developed that built-in heating-and-cooling system.
So you want to make sure your baby doesn’t get
“In the heat, babies are also at greater risk of
To make sure they’re adequately hydrated, offer them
their usual feeding of breast milk or formula,” says
Sachs. “The water content in both will help keep
them well hydrated.”
Here are some things to keep in mind this summer
when outside with infants younger than 6 months:
Keep your baby in the shade as much as possible.
Consult your pediatrician before using any
sunscreen on your baby.
Make sure your child wears clothing that covers
and protects sensitive skin. Use common sense.
If you hold the fabric against your hand and
it’s so sheer that you can see through it, it
probably doesn’t offer enough protection.
Make sure your baby wears a hat that provides
sufficient shade at all times.
Watch your baby carefully to make sure he or she
doesn’t show warning signs of sunburn or
dehydration. These include fussiness, redness
and excessive crying.
If your baby is becoming sunburned, get out of
the sun right away and apply cold compresses to
the affected areas.
Hydrate! Give your child formula or breast milk
if you’re out in the sun for more than a few
Don’t forget to use a cooler to store the
U.S. NIH study links ultraviolet filters to reduce
fertility in men (2014-11-21)
test is designed to detect a sun protection
component in urine associated with hormonal
FDA - U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the