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The best sunscreens for toddlers: 'It's the only thing I trust on my son with eczema'

Dana Oliver
Beauty Director
Sun safety for your children should include sunscreen made especially for toddlers. (Photo: Getty Images)

When it comes to skin care essentials for your child, sunscreen probably isn’t on your shopping list unless you’re going on vacation. But it definitely should be!

Whether you’re packing a suitcase before heading to a tropical destination or stocking your everyday diaper bag with on-the-go must-haves, sunscreen for toddlers is key to keeping your little ones sun safe.

Board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert Anna Guanche advises parents of babies under 6 months to discuss sun protection with a pediatrician, as applying sunscreen to their delicate skin could lead to irritation.

“In general, these munchkins should be kept in the shade, covered with loose clothing and should be wearing hats when outside,” Guanche tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Also, stay out of direct sun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. because that is when the most damaging rays are at their peak.”

Once your child reaches 6 months of age, Guanche suggests finding a high-quality, FDA-approved sunscreen. To take the guesswork out of perusing drugstore shelves stocked from ceiling to floor with sunscreen, the dermatologist suggests starting with big-name brands with formulas that are fragrance free.

Keep your little ones sun safe with the best sunscreens for toddlers. (Image: Yahoo Lifestyle; photos: Target | Walgreens | Amazon )

“These companies spend lots of funds trying to get their sunscreens approved by the FDA Over-the-Counter branch and on the market. They are also heavily scrutinized,” she notes. According to Guanche, those FDA guidelines include: must be broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays); labeling that clearly indicates how water “resistant” they are; and it can’t say the word “sunblock.”

If you are perplexed by physical sunscreens, you’re not alone. Physical sunscreens are typically formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Because these ingredients sit on the skin and don’t get absorbed, Guanche believes physical sunscreens are the best sunscreens for toddlers in that they are less likely to lead to irritation.

Most sun damage in your lifetime is done between the ages of 2 and 16,” Guanche notes. So, her final words of advice are to wear sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, and reapply after two hours.

Now that you know more about sun safety for small children, shop some of the best sunscreens for toddlers below. Then tell us your favorites in the comments section.

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+ (Photo: Amazon)

This paraben- and fragrance-free sunscreen is on the pricier end; however, it’s worth every dollar. Plus, you get a lot of product in this nearly 9-fluid-ounce bottle, which turns pink when exposed to UV light. So you’ll know for sure it’s time to slather your kid in sunscreen. When speaking to its effectiveness, one reviewer said, “I first used this sunscreen when my 9 year old was a baby. I now use it on my 2 year old and 6 month old. None of my kids have gotten burned using this.”

Shop it: $24, amazon.com

California Baby Calendula Sunscreen SPF 30+

California Baby Calendula Sunscreen, SPF 30+ (Photo: Amazon)

Let’s be honest, sunscreens aren’t known for smelling the best. But one reviewer wrote, “This smells amazing!!” California Baby’s calendula, French lavender and clary sage-infused line of products possess an aroma that your baby will find soothing. The mineral sunscreen offers 60 minutes of water resistance, and its allergy-tested formula also works for adults with sensitive skin.

Shop it$25, amazon.com

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Kids Gentle Sunscreen Lotion for Face and Body SPF 60

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Kids Gentle Sunscreen Lotion for Face and Body SPF 60 (Photo: Target)

Dermatologist Anna Guanche counts La Roche-Posay among her favorite brands of sunscreen because it ticks all of the boxes for products that pass FDA guidelines. But another amazing reason why this sunscreen for toddlers is one of the top-rated among Target shoppers is its easy application. “This is a smooth, soft lotion. It is very nice to apply, not sticky or greasy,” states one review. Another customer wrote, “It is extremely easy for my children (9 yr old and 5 yr old) to apply on their own.”

Shop it: $20, target.com

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50 (Photo: Walmart)

Aveeno has established a strong following for its hypoallergenic skin care products made with healing oat, and this sunscreen is no exception. One reviewer explained, “Used this for a girl I nanny for who actually has eczema and psoriasis. It was sensitive enough for her to wear and not make anything flare up and protect her from the sun.”  

Shop it: $10, walmart.com

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen SPF 50 (Photo: Target)

Neutrogena is a highly recognizable and respected drugstore brand. This sunscreen made especially for babies is a wallet-friendly option for parents in need of a product with a high SPF level that’s also free of aluminum, dye and fragrance. If this all sounds too good to be true, this reviewer’s feedback may persuade you to give it a go: “Very thick and effective for the Florida sunshine! Keeps my young children from getting sunburned while swimming, more effective than other brands we have tried.”

Shop it: $11, target.com

Badger Kids Tangerine & Vanilla Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Cream SPF 30

Badger Kids Tangerine & Vanilla Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 (Photo: Walgreens)

Popular among those committed to eco-conscious living, this Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream has a yummy fruity-floral scent, which makes it fun for your young child to apply. It goes on surprisingly smoothly when compared to other zinc sunscreens, and as one reviewer wrote: “Lasts a long time.”

Shop it: $14, walgreens.com

COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50

COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 (Photo: Dermstore)

Because it is packaged in a pocket-size tube, you’re going to want to keep a couple of these sunscreen sticks within reach when out and about with your child. Thanks to moisturizing ingredients like shea and coconut butter and tamanu oil, this sunscreen gives skin a glow and glides on “nicely,” as one reviewer points out.

Shop it: $26, dermstore.com

Kiss My Face Kids Mineral SPF 30 Natural Organic Sunscreen

Kiss My Face Kids Mineral SPF 30 Natural Organic Sunscreen (Photo: Amazon)

This mineral sunscreen by Kiss My Face is one of the select few that’s earned a No. 1 rating by the Environmental Working Group for safe sunscreens for kids. And it’s an “Amazon Choice” buy, no doubt because it provides broad spectrum sun protection, doesn’t contain skin-irritating ingredients and is affordable. All of this makes for one of the best sunscreens for toddlers. “Nobody in my family got a sunburn while we were on vacation this summer. My son is very fair skinned and skin cancer runs in his family, so I’m very picky about what I use,” an Amazon reviewer wrote. And another said, “Neither of my kids got sunburned while we used this all summer while we went to a water park, the beach, and Disney World. Plus, it’s the only thing I trust on my son with Eczema.”

Shop it: $11, amazon.com

The editors at Yahoo Lifestyle are committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. At times, we may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

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