The right sunscreen for your baby | Babies |

The right sunscreen for your baby

Whether on a walk, in the garden or on the beach - it feels good to be outside in the fresh air and in the sunshine. But you should always make sure that the delicate skin of your baby is well protected, as it can easily get a sunburn. We tell you how to enjoy the sun with your child without worry.

How much sun is good for my baby?

Delicate baby skin is extremely thin and sensitive. You should never expose your baby to direct sunlight, as skin protection against UV radiation has yet to develop. Ten to 15 minutes unprotected in the sun are enough to burn the skin of babies. Especially in the midday heat between 11 and 15 o'clock, when the sunshine is most intense, you should leave your child in the house or at least in the shade (NHS 2011).

Your baby can also benefit from the positive properties of the sun in the shade - 10 to 15 minutes of indirect sunshine already prevent a vitamin D deficiency.

How do I protect my child from sunburn?

They are the most important protection for your baby and you have to keep an eye on it and take precautions - your baby can not tell if the sun is getting too much for him, it can not prevent sunburn and it can not be out of the sun.

If you avoid the direct sun, then a big step has already been taken - use umbrellas or awnings to provide shade. But even in the shadows, you should take precautions.

The easiest and most effective way to protect your baby is appropriate clothing:

  • Sonnenhut (no baseball cap, which does not protect the neck!)
  • long, thin pants
  • long-sleeved, wide T-shirt
  • Shoes or baby socks
  • a pair of sunglasses if your child voluntarily keeps them

Wet cotton clothing (for example, when sweat-soaked or wet for cooling) does not provide sun protection. But you can buy clothes with UV protection. This so-called UV protection factor for baby clothes should be around 30.

Body parts such as the back of the hand, face and neck area that can not be covered should be creamed with a waterproof sunblock (SPF 25 or 30). Remember, sunscreen is primarily intended for direct protection of the skin, not for prolonging the stay in the sun (even with indirect exposure). It is no guarantee that skin cancer is prevented and baby skin is, as already mentioned above, very sensitive.

Can I rub my baby with sunscreen?

Many experts advise against the use of sun creams for babies under one year completely. However, the working group Dermatological Prevention and the German Cancer Aid warn against "unnecessarily burdening the tender skin of your child with sunscreen in the first year of life". Although this does not mean a general abandonment, but you should use sunscreen only in unavoidable cases and not on the whole body.

Experts cite two important reasons for this precaution:

  • Babies have a larger skin surface compared to the rest of the body compared to adults. Sun creams often contain many different chemicals that are absorbed through the skin. By comparison, babies absorb more of these chemicals than adults when they are creamed.
  • The second reason is that babies can not yet sweat properly to cool their body. That's what her body has to learn first. In addition, sunscreen can make sweating more difficult, so it may be detrimental to children under 12 months of age when applied to the whole body.

Use sunscreen only in places that can not be covered with the above protective clothing. Make sure the sunscreen you buy is suitable for toddlers and babies. Many sun creams for adults contain chemical filters, hormones or allergy-causing substances. Also, avoid using jelly or alcohol products because they can dry out your baby's skin.

Before you try a new sunscreen, make sure your baby tolerates it. Test it in a small place. If skin becomes red quickly after applying the cream, it is best to use a sensitive sunscreen for sensitive, fragrance-free skin.

It is best to wear the sunscreen 30 minutes before leaving home (NICE 2011), so that the protective effect can develop Repeat the creaming every two hours and after contact with water, even if you use a waterproof sunscreen Post-creaming does not increase the protection time!

Be careful when applying the sunscreen - do not forget the ears, the soles of the feet and the area around the eyes when they are unprotected.

What causes sunburn?

Sunburn occurs after too high a dose of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A first degree sunburn does not catch on in the sun immediately. He then shows up by painful skin redness, which heal again after some time. Often you only see the extent of sunburn when you bring your baby into the shade. A second degree sunburn is far more painful. This leads to a swelling or blistering of the skin, which hurts a lot when touched.

It is almost impossible to get a sunburn of third degree from solar radiation, because here very strong heat is necessary to get into the deep skin layers.

A sunburn can be very uncomfortable and painful for your baby, but the consequences can be even more serious: Epidemiological studies show that frequent exposure to sun and sunburn in early childhood increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. According to an Australian study, four out of five skin cancers are preventable by being careful with the sun.

So you should be careful even on a cloudy day on the skin of your child, since the UV rays that cause the sunburn, are not held by clouds. Parents often underestimate the tremendous power of the sun in spring and fall. Also, the recommendation is not only for beach holidays, but also for playing in the sandbox, the family picnic and visits to the zoo.

How can I treat a light sunburn?

If it is a mild (first degree) sunburn, you can soak an absorbent garment with cold water and wring it out. Place this on the affected areas for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this several times a day. Make sure that your baby does not freeze during this time. You can also bathe it in lukewarm water. The addition of a teaspoon of baking soda increases the cooling effect on the skin and the redness decreases. In addition, you should cream the skin with moisturizing water-based lotions.

If the sunburn is more severe (second degree) and there is a blistering on the skin, you must contact the pediatrician. The pediatrician usually prescribes a soothing cream and paracetamol for children, maybe something to cover the blisters. Sometimes it needs to be treated like a burn, possibly even with antiseptic cream and proper dressings. Occasionally even inpatient therapy is necessary (because of required fluid replacement and the treatment with painkillers).


Working Group Dermatological Prevention (ADP) e. V.
on the Internet at:
German Cancer Aid (ed.): "Achtung Sonne" Prevention Guide 7, Protecting (child) skin, issue 8/2006. Hamburg, 2006
Under as PDF

Robert Steele: "Sunscreen: Safe for babies?"
Article at ivillage

Bundesverband der Unfallkassen (Hrsg.): "GUV-SI 8080 Sun Fun and Sun Protection for Children and Adolescents", May 2007 issue, Munich 2007.
In the rules of the accident insurance as PDF
NHS. 2011. How can I keep my baby safe during hot weather? NHS Choices, Common Health Questions. [Accessed June 2011]

NHS. 2010. Sun safety Q & A. NHS Choices, Live well. [Accessed June 2011]

NICE. 2011. Skin cancer: prevention using public information, sun protection resources and changes to the environment. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Public health guidance 32. [pdf file, accessed June 2011]

WHO: Protecting children from ultraviolet radiation, Factsheet, July 2001

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