Parents who spend time with their babies in the summer sun should remember that the best way to protect an infant’s skin is with shade, not sunscreen.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that parents refrain from bringing a child who is younger than 6 months into direct sunlight, particularly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest.
If you plan a daylong outing, AAP and FDA suggest that you protect an infant’s skin by providing adequate shade (such as an umbrella or a stroller canopy) and dress the child in a brimmed hat and lightweight long-sleeved clothes.
The use of any sunscreen on babies—even the chemical-free products that are marketed toward babies—should be a last resort, because shade and proper clothing serve as better protection from sunburns, experts say.
“I would hate for parents to get a potentially false sense of security with a product that is suggested for a 2-month-old and feel like they can be out at the beach all day with a 2-month-old in direct sunlight,” says Dr. Joseph Gigante, who is a pediatrician at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University.