Smiling naked baby holding sunscreen and sitting on a sandy beach

The best type of sunscreen is the one your kids are willing to put on. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.
–Dr. Julia Carroll, Dermatologist.

Dr. Julia Carroll

She’s a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Compass Dermatology in Toronto, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (FRCPC), and an active member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, Toronto Dermatologic Society, American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons and the American Academy of Dermatology. Besides her busy dermatology practice, she is also on staff at the University of Toronto Medical School.

She’s a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Compass Dermatology in Toronto, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (FRCPC), and an active member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, Toronto Dermatologic Society, American Society of Dermatologic Surgeons and the American Academy of Dermatology. Besides her busy dermatology practice, she is also on staff at the University of Toronto Medical School.

Sunscreen is an important part of every family’s sun protection strategy. However, when it comes to choosing the best sunscreen for babies and toddlers, there’s a lot to consider.

As a parent, you only want the best skincare products for your little one’s delicate skin, and that includes sunscreen. Baby’s skin is more sensitive and more prone to sun damage and burns, regardless of skin tone. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA), this is because their skin’s natural sun protection system is still developing, making adequate sun protection all the more important, even on overcast days or when in the car.

Can you put sunscreen on a baby?

To start, one message Dr. Carroll stressed is that sunscreen is safe for you and your family to use, and should be part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. “Sunscreen is safe,” Dr. Carroll said. “There’s a lot of miss information out there. As physicians and dermatologists, we are confident in the safety and efficacy of sunscreens.

“I don’t know anyone who has ever died from using sunscreen,” She continued. “I do, unfortunately, know quite a few patients who have died from skin cancers caused by sun exposure.” Dr. Carroll added that applying sunscreen is just one method of sun protection. “Avoiding the sun and protecting yourself from the sun is even more effective than sunscreen,” She said. “Always use the three strategies of keeping out of the sun, covering up [with clothing], and then applying sunscreen.”

When can babies wear sunscreen?

While sunscreen is safe, there are currently no Health Canada-approved sunscreens for infants under six months. Instead, Dr. Carroll said to keep these little ones out of direct sunlight, and dress them in sun protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat, wraparound sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection, and lightweight garments that provide plenty of coverage. Plan outings for the morning and late afternoon, as the sun is at its strongest midday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Use umbrellas or other shades at the beach, park or in the yard, and strollers with sunshades or canopies offering UV protection.

Is sunscreen safe?

To start, one message Dr. Carroll stressed is that sunscreen is safe for you and your family to use, and should be part of a comprehensive sun protection strategy. “Sunscreen is safe,” Dr. Carroll said. “There’s a lot of miss information out there. As physicians and dermatologists, we are confident in the safety and efficacy of sunscreens.

“I don’t know anyone who has ever died from using sunscreen,” She continued. “I do, unfortunately, know quite a few patients who have died from skin cancers caused by sun exposure.” Dr. Carroll added that applying sunscreen is just one method of sun protection. “Avoiding the sun and protecting yourself from the sun is even more effective than sunscreen,” She said. “Always use the three strategies of keeping out of the sun, covering up [with clothing], and then applying sunscreen.”

When can babies wear sunscreen?

While sunscreen is safe, there are currently no Health Canada-approved sunscreens for infants under six months. Instead, Dr. Carroll said to keep these little ones out of direct sunlight, and dress them in sun protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat, wraparound sunglasses with 100 per cent UV protection, and lightweight garments that provide plenty of coverage. Plan outings for the morning and late afternoon, as the sun is at its strongest midday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Use umbrellas or other shades at the beach, park or in the yard, and strollers with sunshades or canopies offering UV protection.

What You Need to Know

  1. How to choose the best baby sunscreen.
  2. Mineral vs. chemical sunscreens.
  3. Types of baby sunscreens.
  4. How to apply sunscreen on baby.
  5. Best baby sunscreens at Walmart Canada.

What to Know

  1. How to choose the best baby sunscreen.
  2. Mineral vs. chemical sunscreens.
  3. Types of baby sunscreens.
  4. How to apply sunscreen on baby.
  5. Best baby sunscreens at Walmart Canada.
1

How to choose the best baby sunscreen

For infants and toddlers six months and older—in addition to dressing them in protective clothing and limiting direct sun exposure—apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, such as the face, neck, ears, hands and feet.

When choosing a sunscreen for baby and your family, look for one that meets the following criteria:

  • Broad-spectrum protection: This means that the sunscreen provides protection against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher: Dr. Carroll recommends using an SPF 50 sunscreen for your little ones.
  • Minimally or non-perfumed: These sunscreens will be less likely to irritate sensitive skin.
  • Water resistance: Sunscreens can claim up to 40 or 80 minutes of water resistance, but keep in mind that no sunscreen is waterproof. Always reapply sunscreen after sweating or water exposure.
  • CDA logo: Dr. Carroll said that an easy way to determine whether a product meets the CDA’s criteria for sun protection is to look for the CDA logo on the product packaging.

“If you see the CDA logo on a product, then you know it is a great product,” Dr. Carroll said. You can find a list of CDA-recognized sunscreens here.

2

Mineral vs. chemical sunscreens

There are two main options when it comes to sunscreen formulas: mineral or chemical. Most baby- and kid-friendly sunscreens are mineral or physical sunscreens. The active ingredients in these sunscreens are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which are natural minerals that sit on the skin’s surface to physically block and reflect UV rays. These sunscreens are gentler, making them ideal for sensitive skin.

As the name suggests, chemical sunscreens contain chemical compounds, such as avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin. They then work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat. These sunscreens are more likely to irritate sensitive skin.

Dr. Carroll said that both sunscreen formulas are safe and effective, and that she opts for sunscreens that contain a combination of minerals and chemicals.

“Some people have preferences for one reason or another,” Dr. Carroll explained. “Some people find the mineral sunscreens too white-looking. Some people find that they react to the chemical sunscreen if they have sensitive skin. However, if you don’t have an allergy or sensitivity or comestic preference, then finding one with a combination gives you better coverage.”

Regardless of the sunscreen you choose, spot test it on a small patch of baby’s skin to find out how their skin will react before applying it all over.

3

Types of baby sunscreens

Finally, baby sunscreens come in a variety of forms, including lotions and creams, mousses, sticks and sprays. All types offer the potential to provide adequate sun protection, providing they are properly applied and reapplied. According to Dr. Carroll, it all comes down to choosing a type of sunscreen that your family will use.

“The best type of sunscreen is the one that kids are willing to put on,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.”

Dr. Carroll said her personal method for safeguarding her daughter is applying a combination of lotion and sprays throughout the day. “I will start off with a cream-based sunscreen or lotion,” she described, “and if we’re going to touch up over the day on her body, then I might use a spray sunscreen.”

Lotions and creams

Sunscreen lotions and creams are most reliable when it comes to adequate sun protection. Some may take longer to absorb; however, this also makes it easier to tell whether you applied the sunscreen thick enough and where exposed areas still need covering.

Use these sunscreens as your base for the beach, park or other longer outings under the sun.

Sprays

Sunscreen sprays provide quick and easy coverage. However, they often apply transparently, dispensing a thinner coating than a lotion or cream. While easier to apply, it can be more challenging to tell whether you applied the sunscreen thick enough or missed any spots. If you opt for a spray sunscreen, spray it in your hands first (away from baby), then apply it. This will help you control how much you are applying and help prevent baby from inhaling any particles.

Mousses

Sunscreen mousses and foams are appealing because they are lightweight, apply easily and absorb quickly. “The mousses are fun,” Dr. Carroll said. “There are great mousses out there, some that look like whipped cream, and kids love those.”

Another benefit to a mousse is it stays in place when you apply it. “That way,” Dr. Carroll explained, “you’re not chasing the lotion as it’s running down the skin; it gives you time to rub it in.”

However, similar to spray sunscreen, it can be challenging to determine whether you applied a thick enough coating. If you opt for a mousse, err on the safe side and apply a few coatings.

Sticks

Sunscreen sticks offer convenient, no-mess sun protection when on the go. Again, they do not apply as thickly as a lotion or cream, so make sure you apply thoroughly and often. Save these sunscreens for when you need to cover smaller areas of exposed skin and for shorter periods of sun exposure.

Dr. Carroll recommends using sunscreen sticks for the face. “They’re a bit waxier; I find that kids don’t mind them as much and they don’t scrunch up their faces,” she explained. “It’s easier to get all the nooks and crannies and get it all the way to the back of the hairline, along the jawline and the neck, rather than the creams, which they tend to resist. I get my daughter to paint the sunscreen on herself, and then I’ll rub it in.”

Adult hand rubbing sunscreen onto baby's back at the beach

4

How to apply sunscreen on baby

Regardless of the type of sunscreen you choose, it’s more important to ensure your family applies it regularly and generously. When it comes to applying your little one’s sunscreen (and your own), use the following guidelines:

Dr. Carroll’s favourite tip for getting your little ones to apply sunscreen? Set a positive example. “Children like to mimic their parents, so you really want to set a good example for your young ones,” she explained. “Be the person who is always wearing the hats, using the sun shirts and reapplying the sunscreen. Once kids see that the whole family is involved, it becomes part of the norm, just like putting on the seatbelt.”

5

Best baby sunscreens at Walmart Canada

To help you navigate the many sunscreen products on the market, we rounded up some of these best baby sunscreens available on Walmart.ca. However, even though these products say “Baby” on the packaging, they can still provide effective sun protection for the whole family.

“Baby sunscreens really aren’t that different than other sunscreens,” Dr. Carroll clarified. “They may be slightly different sunscreens and they may have less ingredients, but oftentimes they’re the exact same: one just says ‘baby’ and one doesn’t.”

Remember: when it comes to sun safety for baby, the best protection is avoiding direct sun exposure, dressing baby in protective sun clothing and then reapplying sunscreen to any exposed skin. If you are ever uncertain about whether a product is safe for your little one, always consult your pediatrician first.

Sunscreen Creams and Lotions

Creams/Lotions

Aveeno Baby Mineral Sunscreen – 88ml

Bottle of Aveeno baby mineral sunscreen SPF 50 88ml

  • CDA-recognized sunscreen
  • SPF 50
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Unscented

Thinkbaby Sunscreen (Lotion) – 3 oz

Bottle of Thinkbaby sunscreen SPF 50 3 ounces

  • SPF 50+
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Lightly scented

Also available in Thinkbaby sunscreen stick.

Banana Boat Simply Protect Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – 180ml

Bottle of Banana Boat Simply Protect baby mineral sunscreen lotion made without oxybenzone and parabens SPF 50

  • SPF 50+
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Unscented

Equate Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – 90ml

Equate baby mineral sunscreen lotion

  • SPF 50+
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes

Live Clean Baby Mineral Sunscreen Lotion – 113ml

Live Clean baby mineral sunscreen SPF 45

  • SPF 45
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Unscented

Sunscreen Sticks

Sunscreen Sticks

Coppertone Waterbabies Sunscreen Stick – 13.9g

Coppertone Waterbabies Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes

Aveeno Baby Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick – 14g

Aveeno Baby SPF 50 mineral sun guard sensitive skin face lotion stick

  • CDA-recognized sunscreen
  • SPF 50
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant
  • Unscented

Mousse/Spray

Mousse/Spray

Copppertone Waterbabies Whipped Sunscreen – 142ml

Coppertone Waterbabies whipped sunscreen SPF 50

  • SPF 50
  • Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • Unscented

Taking care of baby during the hot, sunny summer months means a little extra care. By choosing the right sunscreen, you can have fun with baby outside for many worry-free hours. Look for sunscreens that are mineral-based, minimally or non-scented and have an SPF of at least 30. Lastly, make sure to spread evenly and thoroughly so baby is fully protected from the sun.

Enjoy the summer!

Legal: This article is intended as general information. To be sure a product is right for you, always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.