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FDA: Avoid sunscreen on infants

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it’s best to avoid putting sunscreen on babies, especially those 6 months old and younger.

While sunscreens are recommended for children and adults, babies’ thinner skin absorbs the active chemical ingredients in sunscreen more easily.  Babies have a higher ratio of skin surface to body weight, which means they could be exposed to more of those chemicals relative to their body weight, than an older person.  

Instead of using sunscreen, the FDA recommends keeping the baby in shade if possible.  They take cues from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggestions for dressing infants in lightweight long pants and long-sleeved shirts made of fabrics with tight weaves.  Choose a brimmed hat rather than a baseball cap, to shade the neck and ears.

Babies don’t sweat like older kids and adults, so be sure your baby doesn’t get overheated.  Avoiding dehydration is also key. 

If you cannot keep the baby out of the sun, you can use a small amount of sunscreen on the cheeks and back of the hands.  Use an SPF of at least 15 and consider testing the baby’s sensitivity to sunscreen by trying a small amount on their inner wrist. 

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