Last month, the FDA issued an advisory statement recommending that you do not put sunscreen on babies.
Its not because babies are somehow immune to sun damage and we shouldn’t worry about them developing skin cancer. No, the FDA thought “… babies’ skin is much thinner than that of adults, and it absorbs the active, chemical ingredients in sunscreen more easily, explains Sachs. For another, infants have a high surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older children and adults. Both these factors mean that an infant’s exposure to the chemicals in sunscreens is much greater, increasing the risk of allergic reaction or inflammation.”
If you think about their conclusion for a second, its easy to see why people don’t trust the FDA. But let me walk you through this argument, and you will see why their conclusion is ridiculous.
- We know that baby skin is much more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation than adults. Their skin is thinner, so the rays penetrate more deeply and cause far more damage in far less time.
- Babies then really need even more diligent protection than adults.
- However, as we just pointed out baby skin is thin, therefore we should worry about them absorbing chemicals from sunscreen.
Ok, it all makes sense up to here.
But how do you get from that to: You shouldn’t use sunscreen on babies?
Given the skin cancer risk, which we know is a big deal, how about just avoiding chemical-based sunscreens on kids? Frankly, I have no idea what the FDA was thinking with their policy statement here; it really is nonsense. It’s like saying we should take airbags out of cars because they don’t work well for kids. Well no, we should work out safety mechanisms for kids that work, right?
So, sunscreens for babies that you should not be afraid of:
Vanicream Sunscreen. No preservatives, parabens, lanolens, or fragrance. It is an old-fashioned physical sunscreen using Zinc and Titanium Oxide. This stuff is not going to be absorbed, trust me.
Organic Sunscreens: There are a ton of them out there. Hey FDA! No one’s keeping this stuff secret, why haven’t you heard of ANY of these:
California Baby (pretty sure you can buy this at Target for $10)
Badger All Natural Baby Sunscreen
Think Baby Sunscreen for Kids
When it comes to sunscreen for my babies:
- I do try to keep them in the shade and out of peak sun.
- I try to keep them covered to the extent that they will tolerate it.
- I love swim shirts for the pool.
- They are going to get covered — slathered actually — in a good quality sunscreen as much as possible when they are in the sun.