Sunblock and Kids

Updated on April 07, 2010
A.C. asks from Sterling Heights, MI
20 answers

I am having my annual summer angst over sunblock for my kids. I ran around all day in the sun as a kid with no sunblock, but I know the atmosphere has changed so that now everyone says no more than 15 minutes in the sun without sunblock. Obviously my priority is to keep my children healthy (and that includes their skin), but how can it be realistic to put sunblock on a 2 yr old and 4 yr. old every time we go outside? We go outside to play several times throughout the day. If I put sunblock on them in the morning, then they will be covered in the greasy stuff all day! This poses two problems - 1) every time they touch their skin it gets on their hands and then in their eyes and hair and 2) sunblock and carpet, sofas, bedsheets, etc. don't mix very well (every piece of fabric in the house would be covered in sunblock by the end of the summer). I am certainly not going to bathe my kids every time we come in the house, but I am also not going to let my sofa get ruined or their bedsheets covered in sunblock. And YES, my kids are more important than my sofa and I WILL protect their skin from the sun regardless of its affect on my sofa.

So, does anyone have a solution? Is there some magic sunblock I haven't found yet that doesn't get all over everything, won't make their eyes sting and doesn't cost a fortune?

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Orlando on

I've just used Banana Boat - Or Nutragena sunblock. Neither of those seemed greasy to me. They go on just like lotion & soak in.

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answers from Indianapolis on

We keep a spray-on and a lotion sunblock in the garage by their toys. We also have bucket hats for their heads (my kids are roughly the same ages - just turned 2 and almost 4).

I spent several weeks home with the kids last year when I was laid off from my job, and we'd spend most of the day outside if possible. We put sunblock on when outside and would wipe their arms, faces with a baby wipe when coming inside and repeat as necessary.

We didn't have any real issues with the stuff getting on fabric such as the sofa. And, during the summer, we bathe every night anyhow.

As a cancer survivor (lymphoma not skin cancer), I'd do ANYTHING to prevent my kids from going through what I did.

Good luck and have fun!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

I'm a fair-skinned blond, and had my first bout of (thankfully not malignant) skin cancer at age 15. I have had many more suspicious spots removed surgically since then, with scars to match. So far, I've dodged the skin cancer bullet, but mama, protecting your kids from this is WAY more important than your sofa fabric! People can and do die from skin cancer.

That being said, you have a lot of great options. Coppertone Kids makes a little sunblock stick that you can use on their faces. For their bodies, use one of the "dry" sprays - they are not greasy and dry almost instantly. You can use them on kids' faces, too, you just have to spray it into your hand first. We have a bunch of different brands and they all seem to work fine.

You should use AT LEAST an SPF of 30 on them. A hat doesn't hurt, either, and sunglasses are important for protecting their eyes, especially if your kids have light colored eyes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My son (23mo) and I are both fair skinned. Went recently to the dermatologist for a rash on my son's face. In no relation to his rash, Dr. said that he and I both need sunscreen if we're out in the sun 20 minutes or longer. On TV a while back, they said that 80% of skin damage is caused before you're 18 years old, so yes, protect your kiddos!

Here are my suggestions:
- at Target, I bought a size 2T shirt that says it's SPF 50+. It's CIRCO brand. Only $8 for the shirt. I hope/assume it works.
- The dermatologist recommended "Elta Oil Free Shielt SPF 45" for my son and I to both use. It was smooth, didn't smell like sunscreen, was very pleasant. I have yet to buy it, as it cost $52 for an 8oz pump bottle (will go get it from the derm. office). I did not find much online. I think you'd have to call a dermatologist office if you wanted to buy it locally.
- The dermatologist also gave me a catalog for . These are clothes with UPF protection. They have hats, swimsuits, shorts, sunglasses, cotton clothes. Says here that their t-shirts are "UPF 50+. A normal t-shirt is UPF 8." No prices listed in the catalog of course, but go online and see if it's affordable. Doubt it. It looks too cute to be cheap.

I've just been using hats and regular WaterBabies sunblock, but I had a lot to use up anyways. Anything is better than nothing!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Get the SPF swimwear for sure. I use, and have since my twin boys were 1, Arbonne Baby Sunblock. It is the only sunblock that keeps my fair boys from getting burned. It is almost...a dry (?) lotion. It is not oily at all!! I have no worries about stains around the house with this product. Also, I only reapply if they have been in the water A LOT! Otherwise, they are good to go :) Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Don't forget that the sun is the main source for Vitamin D. So kids that are constantly covered in sunscreen may not be getting enough vitamin D.
I do not like using chemicals on my baby. So when we go outside, I do not use sunscreen. I usually put a hat on her with a wide brim and then she never wears a shirt without a t-shirt sleeve. My daughter takes naps during the highest sun-exposure times of day 12-3, so I don't worry about morning and late afternoon sun as much. My daughter has never been sunburned, and we are of scandanavian descent with fair skin and hair.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Good suggestions so far. The only other thing I would suggest is to try to avoid the arms and hands on the little one, because you are correct, they will rub their eyes and that sun block burns the eyes.We never have found a way to apply it super thin enough, except when we blow on it right away till it is really dry..

The sunblock will tell you how long it will last. So that is how you will know if they need to be treated each time you all go out. We live in Texas where we use sun block every single day. I have never noticed a problem with staining from sunblock as much as dirty hands, dirty shoes and wet hair.. By the way, sunblock will not hurt their hair. They should wear a hat especially if they are fair headed, because they can get sunburned on their scalps..

Have a fun summer, have the kids remind you to put your sunscreen on too. Always thank them for remembering.. This will make them WANT to have sunblock on..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

If you will just be outside for short stretches of time, get Vaseline's regular lotion with SPF15. I am very fair skinned and use this everyday in the summer because it's not greasy or sticky like sunblock. It's just a regular lotion with SPF in it. However, if you will be out for a notable amt. of time, I recommend the real deal sunblock.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

I know what you mean. I only have one and I hate the battle to get the sunscreen on, then the battle to get it off again. But it is very important. One burn that blisters as a child doubles the chance of developing skin cancer as an adult.

I just bought some of these
Regular clothes are not adequate sunblock for being outside for long periods of time. I think a regular cotton shirt is under SPF 10 (I can't remember the exact number, I think it's 4 or 8). Getting something like this can cut down on where you have to apply it, but the rest of the body still needs protection.

I'm still searching for a great formula of sunblock. I just bought some California Baby and have used it a couple of times, but not enough to decide yet. I am trying to find one that is not so full of scary chemicals too, since my poor pale child will need it on pretty much constantly. Good luck!

Oh yeah- about the sunglasses- make sure they have UV protection. Lots of kids glasses don't and that is worse than not using any. I couldn't believe mine had no UV protection.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I'm glad you asked the question because its the same thing I stress about every summer! I want to protect my almost 6 yr old and 17 month old girls no matter what, but what a pain in the butt sunscreen is! Plus I worry about all the chemicals in sunscreens since I feel like I'm smothering them in it constantly! Oh and btw, we are all very fair skinned.
For the girls last year I used the Coopertone Water Babies Pure & Simple. Its white when you first put it on, but it soaks in pretty quick and is one of the best barriers out there (the zinc oxide). I didn't have any problems with it. I usually put it on them only once and they have never got a sun burn. The problem i run into is their head! They both have a lot of hair, but when you pull it (to keep the hair from laying on their neck & back when its hot out) up there are parts of their scalp exposed. I try to use the spray sunscreen on on their head, but i just never feel that i can get all the spots.. Hats aren't an option since neither of my girls will keep them on.. ugh.. Isn't summer suppose to be fun? lol.... For me it turns into stress with all the worries, lol..



answers from Detroit on

I've found that the sunscreen from Avalon Organics is great - not too greasy, the consistency of a "normal" lotion. I know it's a bit more expensive but worthwhile for the lack of chemicals on kids' skin AND because it's less greasy (check out the database that another poster gave you below - it rates all the products out there from 0-10 for the amount of dangerous chemicals in the product). My "trick" is to buy things in the biggest quantity possible (usually through a website - has lots of great safer options) and that saves a bit on the cost. I try to focus mostly on putting a hat on my kids and then sunscreen on their faces and arms - the two areas with the most exposure to the sun. And I usually only put it on them if we're going to be outside for an extended period of time (like at the zoo or a pool). If we're just going out to play for 20 or so minutes and it's not that crazy hot or sunny out, or we'll be playing in the shade I don't always do sunscreen (gotta get the Vitamin D!)



answers from Grand Rapids on

This could have been written by me! And I don't like how they smell like sunscreen/chemicals all day. The easiest thing I've found to use is spray on sunscreen. It seems to dry on the skin and is easy to apply (you have to use something else for the face or spray some in your hand and then rub it on their face).



answers from Detroit on

I hear you. I bought some Lubriderm with 15 spf sunscreen. Feels more like lotion than the greasy sunscreen and it soaks in better. I know 15 isn't as much as is recommended, but it's better than nothing. We also use sun hats. If we are planning to be out all day or at the park or at the beach, we do spray-on sunscreen in a higher spf, and reapply it a couple of times. Also, if you have the option to play in the shade, that always helps, too.



answers from Detroit on

I LOVE Kiss My Face Sunscreen in the small orange spray bottle. It is the only one i use on the whole family. I buy mine at Whole Foods and think it is about $15 for a bottle. The bottle is tiny but actually lasts longer than commercial brands/aerosols because it is a pump spray. I get the reg spf 30 (not the Sun'swat' that has repellant in it). It's an oil, but it it honestly feels clean if that makes any sense. Yes, you are still going to have a sunblock smell (though not nearly as strog as the chemical-laden kinds), and I am with you on the whole 'inconvenience' factor (naptime, etc), but you really do have to put it on them evbery time if you want to try your best to prevent future skin cancer risk for them (I can't believe how many 30/40 something people I know who have had it recently!?),



answers from Grand Rapids on

I use the stick shaped sunblock on the face, works great and doesn't get in the eyes. When we go out originally for the day I just use the Meijers brand, but when we got out later in the day, I just make is quick and simple and spray them with banana boat. It worked great for them last year. I did bathe them every night though, just to get it off their skin. I also used hats, all the time. I also make my kids keep their sunglasses on. Good luck:)



answers from Detroit on

I'm sure Whole Foods or Better Health would have something. It may cost just a little more, but if it otherwise answers your needs, what's a few extra pennies?



answers from Detroit on

Hi A.----I would confirm the advice to check out the safety of different sunscreens at and their cosmetics data base.

Be very careful to not be sun phobic. We need sun to make vitamin D. That's not to say you should not protect your children from SUNBURNS, but do be sure they get 15-20 minutes of unfiltered sun as often as possible. Every day would be good. After they get the unfiltered sun, then put on the safest sunscreen possible. You may have bigger problems in the long run with chemicals that are absorbed into the body. It is also becoming clear through research, that many of the chronic diseased we experience today are because of low vit D levels. Rates of MS increase the further a person lives from the equator.

One last thought about the cost of staying healthy. I know expenses are a big consideration in this economy, but I personally feel that I should not compromise when it comes to my health. I am willing to spend more for things that I consider to be an investment in my health. That goes especially for food. And food is another way to protect your family from the damaging effects of TOO MUCH sun. You should be getting 9-13 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day. I have charts that show recommendations for different age groups (kids) and would be willing to share those. And, my family eats a whole food based supplement that gives us nutrients from 17 different fruits and veggies. We haven't been sunburned for over 4 years and I am fair, tan well after some time in the sun AND I don't wear sunscreen. If you'd like to know what we do to help protect our skin through our diet, please give me a call. I'd be happy to share. Good luck! In health, D. ###-###-####



answers from Saginaw on

Aveeno and Lubriderm both make an every day lotion that has SPF 15 protection. fully clothed kids, just going outside to play will be totally protected by this...
I only suncreen my kids when we are going to spend all day at the beach or boating.
And the others that have posted are correct...don't put on a major sunscreen or sunblock until 20 minutes after they are out in the sun...gotta get the vitaminD !



answers from Benton Harbor on

check out they have great clothing options so you don't have to worry about sunblock

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