Why is it recommended for parents NOT to use sunscreen on babies under the age of 6 months old? What are the alternative forms of sun protection for kids?
Doctors generally recommend against using sunscreen on babies under 6 months old because they have extremely sensitive skin and because most formulations have not been tested for safety on children that young. Zinc oxide, a natural mineral, is the only exception and the only active sunscreen ingredient approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for children under 6 months of age, because it’s a physical-block sunscreen (as opposed to chemically-based sunscreen). That’s why we here at The Honest Company selected non-nano Zinc Oxide as our one main active ingredient in Honest Sunscreen – that applies very smooth and evenly, and is inherently broad-spectrum.
Despite the safety of zinc oxide, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends skin patch testing and reducing overall use for under 6 months olds. They suggest that the safest practices for children this young are to avoid direct sun exposure and to dress in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck and protect the eyes. Babies are especially vulnerable to not only sunburns, but also dehydration and even sun stroke because of their limited ability to control their body temperature.
If you are reading the ingredients, and you can’t pronounce it, you most likely shouldn’t be putting that on you or your baby’s skin.
- Christopher Gavigan, Co- Founder and Chief Products Officer
Christopher Gavigan is a nationally recognized environmental health leader, author, and speaker, and the former CEO / Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World, a national nonprofit focused on protecting children’s health through sustainable, nontoxic family lifestyles. He sits on the Board of Directors of Mount Sinai Hospital’s Children Environmental Health Center, is a Chief Advisor to the Green Product Innovation Institute and on the Advisory Board of UCLA’s Environmental Health Sciences Department.