Once warm weather hit and I could take my girls outside without bundling them up in layers on top of layers, I remembered one thing: They’d never really been out in the hot sun before. Being that they were born at the start of a western New York winter season (a season that seems to never end), all they really knew was snow, long-sleeved onesies, extra swaddle blankets, and, oh yeah, more snow. Never had they really been outside when the sun could be of harm to them.
Being a first-time-mom (of twins, nonetheless), I fell into panic mode – as many of us do.
I had been gifted spray baby sunscreen and since my girls were at the age where it was safe to use (and since it was all I had available in the house), I decided to give it a try. I sprayed a little on my hands and dabbed a little on their arms, legs, and cheeks before going on a stroller ride. A couple minutes into our stroll, I stopped to check on them. One little one was fast asleep and the other was all smiles – smiles accompanied by swollen, red eyes that were tearing up quick.
I realized she was having a slight reaction to the sunscreen and, luckily, once we washed her face she was absolutely fine. This little “new mom” incident made me realize a few things: (1) It’s important to know as many sun-safety alternatives as possible, (2) I needed to look into the different sunscreens available, and (3) all babies definitely are not the same.
Products That Provide Sun-Safe Alternatives
Since sunscreens do not work well with all skin types, some parents prefer to use alternative measures. These alternatives do not include sunscreens or SPF lotions that could cause any unexpected or unwanted reactions to your little one – a fear many parents do have.
A canopied “Pop ‘N Play” or playpen is very useful when you want to spend time outside with your child in a safe, contained environment. This allows them to crawl, roll, and move as they wish while still experiencing what summertime has to offer. Since the sides of these products are mesh or see-through, they provide shade from the sun’s powerful rays without shutting your child off from the world.
The “Pop N’ Play,” and other items like it, can be purchased through numerous online vendors such as Amazon.com and buybuy BABY. However, if you search LetGo or Facebook Marketplace, you can often find clean, gently-used playpens for much less. Jump on those deals quickly since they do sell fast.
Other quick items that help with easy sun protection include: sunglasses with attachments so your little one doesn’t rip them off, sun hats that fully cover all sides of the face and neck, and long-sleeve, UPF 50 onesies that are strictly made to keep little ones protected.
There Are Many Different Sunscreens to Choose From
Sunscreen usage can be a tricky subject since every baby is unique when it comes to their skin type, color, tone, and texture. During the scenario I had with one of my twins, I contacted a retired pediatric nurse, and family friend, who gave me the following advice: Test out a small amount of sunscreen on the upper arm or thigh before putting more on their skin. If there is a reaction, wash off the area with warm, plain soap and water with a soft washcloth right away. If the reaction continues or a high fever is involved, contact your pediatric specialist or visit a local Urgent Care for further assistance.
Aveeno Baby is a brand many moms live by because of the natural, mineral-based ingredients used. This is the sunscreen my girls have been using this summer, ever since the little incident my one daughter encountered, and it has been working well. Other brands that are well-known are Babyganics, Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby (along with the Wet Skin Sunscreen Stick version), and CeraVe Baby.
Don’t Let Sunscreen Stress You Out
Sometimes wearing sun-safe clothing and playing in a shaded environment isn’t enough to feel 100% safe from the sun’s rays. It’s normal to feel this way (especially for new parents) because no one knows exactly how your little one will react to this new element in their life. Here are some tips from parents when it comes to sunscreen application and options that could come in handy:
- “Reapply 50 times! Get one of those baby sunscreen sticks for the face.” – Katie B. - Mom of 10-month-old
- “One trick that worked with some kids was to do sound effects, as if rubbing sunscreen made a different sound on each part of the face and body.” – Amber R. - Preschool teacher, blogger (Instagram: theplayfullearner), and mom of two-year-old and seven-month-old
- “We make our own sunscreen so we know there’s nothing bad in there. We put them in containers like lip gloss or deodorants so we can easily apply on their face, neck, and ears.” – Tamme K. - Mom of 21-year-old, 15-year-old, and 10-year-old
Jennifer Aline is a coffee addict, new mom of twins, and a passionate freelance writer and author. She writes for Moms.com on a regular basis and has had articles in publications such as the NY Daily News, NY Post, Rochester Magazine, and In Good Health Newspaper. Aline received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Studies from Keuka College and worked in the Human Services field before her two little girls entered her life. Aline now focuses primarily on writing, teaching aerial arts classes in the evenings, and caring for her twin daughters – all while continuously chugging coffee, of course.