10 of the best sun creams for babies and toddlers

A range of children’s sun lotions tried and tested by MFMers - so which came out top?

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  • Suncreams on test

    Our MFM mums have tested a range of suncreams from top selling brands to supermarket own brands and sun screen designed for sensitive skin.

    MFMers tested the creams on their babies and children, looking at:

    • ease of use
    • rubbing in
    • washing off
    • effect on skin
    • fragrance
    • stain risk
    • packaging and leak potential

    They come in all shapes and sizes so we also calculated cost per 100ml. But beware with price and discount deals. Many high street and supermarket brands have a high RRP but in peak suncream season, you'll see them on sale for 33-50% less - allowing the stores to offer what seem to be eye-catching discounts. At MFM we'd suggest this is more of a marketing ploy than a real discount. It happens every year, suggesting that the bulk of sun screen is planned to be sold at the ‘discounted’ price. 

    We also show SPF (UVB protection) and star ratings (UVA protection). Both UVA and UVB can cause skin cancer as well as cell damage, so both ratings are important. But they're also confusing.

    SPF rating is 
the old 'Factor' number which shows protection against UVB rays. SPF 6-14 is low protection, 15-29 is medium and 30-50+ is high. The SPF represents how much longer you can stay in the sun without your skin burning - it doesn't mean the protection is better, it just lasts longer. 

    Star rating is related to UVA protection. This is more complicated as it's not a straight measure of UVA protection. Instead it indicates the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB. So you can have 5 stars on a lower SPF product that may not offer you as much UVA protection as a 3 star SPF 50 product.

    The best advice - SPF 50 and 5 stars offers most protection. But remember, it's also likely to be thicker and more difficult and time consuming to apply on wriggly children.

    We know different sun creams appeal to different mums. So we've given plenty of detail for you to be able to make your own decision.

  • Asda Protect Kids Lotion 50, £3.50 for 200ml (= £1.75/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 50
    UVA protection: 5 stars

    Available from Asda
    RRP £3.50 for 200ml = £1.75 for 100ml

    MFM mum Azra Begum says: 

    • LIKE IT 
    • I found it easy to apply and it absorbed into the skin easily
    • Great value
    • Very good instructions
    • Bright packaging
    • Nice smell
    • Liked the fact it had additional Vitamin E
    • Would use again and recommend to other parents

    MFM mum Joanne Rouke says: 

    • LIKE IT
    • Found it fairly thick in consistency and it can take some effort to apply
    • Eventually absorbs into the skin, though it does leave the skin feeling a little sticky
    • Washes off very well
    • Smells very nice
    • The product was easy to open and close.
    • Writing on the bottle very small and at times hard to read.
    • The cream did not react with my child’s clothing at all.
    • Not great when storing in a bag, I felt the lid may open easily and leak
    • However, I would use this product again because it is a very high factor sun cream and it smelt pleasant

    MFM mum Cheryl Broadway says: 

    • LIKE IT
    • Smelt like mangoes and other tropical fruit
    • Good sized bottle and nice packaging.
    • Easy to read information
    • Would definitely use again for my kids
  • Superdrug Solait Baby 50, £9.99 for 200ml (= £4.99/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 50+

    UVA protection: 5 stars

    Available from Superdrug
    RRP £9.99 for 200ml = £4.99 for 100ml

    MFM mum Jess Gifford says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Very easily absorbed, leaves no visible marks or smears - when it spilt on to clothing it rubbed straight off and left no visible mark
    • Easy to wash off with water and rubbing
    • Has a fresh clean smell
    • Very easy to open and store
    • It's in a squeezey tube with the lid at the bottom so will be easy to use the entire product
    • Basic and simple package-wise
    • A sun cream I would use again, it is perhaps the best sun cream I have used

    MFM mum Sarah Anderson says:

    • Quite stubborn to rub in, left marks on my daughter’s face
    • Very hard to wash off hands after applying to body
    • Smells a bit like glue and slightly off putting
    • Slim packaging, easy to store and easy-to-follow instructions
    • Left very minor mark if it touched my daughter’s clothes
    • Would I use it again? No

    MFM mum Samantha Baker says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Easily absorbed
    • Felt light and silky on my child’s skin
    • A very simple white and yellow bottle, with functional design
    • Not immediately obvious that it's a product for babies
    • I would consider using it again in the future

  • Green People Organic Children Lotion 25, £10.95 for 150ml (= £7.30/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 25 – medium protection
    Uses natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, beeswax and edelweiss
    No parabens or artificial perfumes
    Designed for sensitive skin and prickly heat sufferers

    Available from Amazon
    RRP £10.95 for 150ml = £7.30 for 100ml 

    MFM mum Sarah Anderson says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Absorbed straightaway felt like water, not at all sticky
    • Very easy to wash off hands after application
    • Leakproof top, easy to store
    • Relatively expensive
    • Instructions seemed to be very small writing may not be easy to read for everyone.
    • Like the fact that it’s made without parabens, alcohol, lanolin, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, phthalates, artificial perfumes, petrochemicals and colourants
    • But it only has a SPF of 25, would prefer it to be factor 50
    • It left a small mark when it came in contact with clothes
    • Without question I would use this product again

    MFM mum Cheryl Broadway says:

    • It was easy to put on and easy to absorb into my child’s skin
    • Felt very greasy on hands when using it, had to use baby wipes to wipe hands after applying
    • It smelt putrid, a smell my daughters really didn’t like
    • Packaging nice and simple and information was good
    • I wouldn’t use again

  • Continue slideshow >

  • Lovea Disney Kids Bio 50 spray, £19.90 for 150ml (= £15.92/100ml)

    Suitable for 3yr+

    UVB protection: SPF 50
    Peach-apricot fragrance

    Available from Amazon
    RRP £19.90 for 150ml = £15.92 for 100ml

    MFM mum Cheryl Broadway says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Easy to spray on, rub in and absorb into the skin
    • Easy to wash off
    • Small compact bottle that’s easy to open and store
    • Kids loved the Winnie the Pooh pic on bottle
    • Didn’t like the smell

    MFM mum Sarah Anderson says:

    • Quite easy to rub in, but took a bit of work. It left my daughter’s skin slightly sticky
    • Took a lot of soap to wash off my hand after application
    • Has a nice like moisturizer smell, I tend to like suncreams which smell of something as they tend to remind me of holidays
    • Expensive compared to other brands
    • Top is prone to being lost. Feel it could be accidentally knocked against something and spray on things
    • Directions seemed to be a bit extreme (must use six spoonfuls) and English was not easy to find in the instructions
    • Left a greasy stain on a pair of shorts, nightmare to get off
    • Would only use if I didn’t have any other of my usual options
  • Riemann P20 factor 30 spray, £24.49 for 200ml (= £12.25/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 30

    UVA protection: 5 stars
    10 hours protection from one application

    Available from Amazon and Boots
    RRP £24.49 for 200ml - although generally sold at a discount = £12.25 for 100ml

    MFM mum Leah Mikosz says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Very easy to rub in, but you must follow instructions for full protection. Once absorbed there is a sheen on the skin, but it’s not greasy
    • I needed soap to wash it off fully. It’s very waterproof but if you dry yourself very hard with your towel you'll probably need to reapply
    • It has a very chemical/solvent smell that goes away once it's dry but it does leave a faint suntan lotion smell
    • We found there was a bit of staining on white clothes if you put it on before it’s fully absorbed
    • My children liked not having to be 'greased up' so frequently. They also liked prancing around naked waiting for it to absorb/dry!
    • They were nervous about being sprayed so I sprayed it into my hands, which also meant I could see how much I used
    • Very easy to open and store. Lid stayed on tight even in bag
    • Instructions were very long winded
    • Ingredients list is actually fairly short, and it doesn’t contain parabens
    • Would definitely use again – it’s excellent for long days out/school 

    MFM mum Joanne Rouke says:

    • Very quick and easy to apply with the spray action, however, once I put it on, it left my child’s skin feeling greasy
    • The yellowish colour of the product was off-putting, but it is available as a clear spray
    • It didn’t wash off very well - my child was still left with a film of product on her skin
    • The packaging stated that it was fragrance free, which I would have to disagree with. I didn’t like the smell at all. It had a strong odour that lingered for some hours after application
    • The product was easy to open and close and I trusted that it wouldn’t leak
    • I wouldn’t use this product again because the smell was far too strong and lasted too long. I liked the fact that you only had to apply it once a day and it was easy to apply

  • Piz Buin sensitive factor 30, £14.99 for 200ml (= £7.50 per 100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 30
    UVA protection: 5 stars
    Designed for sensitive skin

    Available from Amazon, Boots and Superdrug
    RRP £14.99 for 200ml - although generally sold at a discount = £7.50 per 100ml 

    MFM mum Jess Gifford says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Easy to rub in and quick to absorb
    • I found it didn't irritate even sensitive and eczema-prone elbow and knee creases.
    • Easy to wash off with soap, fairly water resistant to paddling
    • It has a strong perfumed smell: the ingredients lists chrysanthemum so maybe this gives it the distinctive fragrance. It's not unpleasant, just definitely there
    • Gives instant protection, so there's no waiting around
    • Simple flip lid, which shuts securely for carrying around
    • Instructions are clear - there's an effective warning about using too little 
    • The ingredients list is long and has a few 'extras' that claim to have powers such as calmanelle and feverfew PFE, (parthenolide-free extract) which can help to reduce redness and irritation in sensitive skin
    • I would definitely use this again
  • Original Sprout Worry Free face and body sun cream 27, £12.50 for 90ml (= £13.89/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 27
    Natural and organic - suitable for vegans
    Good for sensitive, dry or acne prone skin

    Available from Amazon and John Lewis
    RRP £12.50 for 90ml = £13.89 per 100ml

    MFM mum Jess Gifford says:

    • Very easy to rub in, absorbs quickly
    • Washed off very easily but also rubbed off too easily
    • Smells like soybeans, but my eldest daughter said it smelt like ice cream!
    • Easy to open even with wet hands
    • In a squeezey tube with the lid at the bottom, so it’s easy to get out even when nearly finished
    • Made from natural ingredients and 100 percent vegan
    • Fine for my daughters and my youngest has very sensitive skin and didn't react to this
    • Good quality product but expensive. I don't think I would use this again as it does probably more than I need
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  • Superdrug Solait kids roll-on SPF30, £2.99 for 75ml (= £3.99/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 30

    Available from Superdrug
    RRP £2.99 for 75ml = £3.99 per 100ml

    MFM mum Azra Begum says:

    • LIKE IT
    • Easy to roll-on and was easily absorbed into skin
    • Left no marks on clothing
    • No storage or usage instructions
    • Loved the fact it was a roll-on so none if it was wasted
    • Easy to open and close
    • No fear that it would spill so perfect for taking in handbag or even in suitcase when travelling abroad
    • My daughter loved using the roll-on as was completely different to normal sun creams and lotions she has used
    • Cute little bottle
    • Would definitely use again and recommend this product to other parents

    MFM mum Joanne Rouke says:

    • A little awkward to apply. I didn’t find it easy to roll-on to the skin so I wasn’t confident that I was achieving a consistent coverage of my child’s skin
    • There were no instructions on the packaging, so I didn’t know when or how to apply the cream, and it was a guessing game
    • Putting it on was very time consuming and it took a long time to cover my child’s entire body. However it was more manageable for small areas such as the face or arms
    • Pricey considering its small size
    • It washed off very well
    • The cream smelled fine however the smell did linger for some time
    • Easy to open and close and I felt confident storing the product
  • Banana Boat Kids Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50, £19.99 for 360ml (= £5.71/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 50
    UVA protection: 3 stars
    Water resistant for 40 mins in the water

    Available from Amazon and Sainsbury's
    RRP £19.99 for 360ml - although generally sold at a discount = £5.71 per 100ml 

    MFM mum Leah Mikosz says:

    • Instructions say it has to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, so not really good for a day at the beach
    • A bit time consuming to rub in
    • Washes off easily with soap, but didn't come off when paddling
    • At first the cream smells like PVA glue, then fades to odourless
    • It's a large bottle with a pump lid, which is OK at home, but you can't take it anywhere without first squirting a dollop out to close it, which is usually a dollop wasted
    • Unlikely to use again as it contains parabens and only has 3 stars for UVA protection

    MFM mum Samantha Baker says:

    • LIKE IT
    • The lotion is thick and creamy, it feels very moisturising, yet was surprisingly easy to apply and absorb in the skin
    • Good pump action application but it could be improved further by being a spray
    • Would keep this product at home as it is slightly too large to carry around in the changing bag, and I wouldn’t be confident that the pump dispenser would remain locked in the bag
    • Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and water resistant
    • I would use this product again

  • Nivea Sun Baby 50+ Moisturising Lotion, £11.99 for 200ml (= £5.99/100ml)

    Suitable for babies from 3 months
    UVB protection: SPF 50+
    UVA protection: 4 stars

    Available from Boots and Amazon
    RRP £11.99 for 200ml - although generally sold at a discount = £5.99 for 100ml

    MFM mum Jess Gifford says:

    • LIKE IT
    • It's very easy to rub in and absorb, did not feel greasy on my child's skin
    • Washed off relatively easily with soap
    • Liked it being fragrance free
    • Very easy to open and store, but as the lid is at the top when the product nears its end, it may be more difficult to get out of the bottle
    • Clearly designed and states that it is for babies. Even when glanced at, you can see the SPF factor 
    • A product that I would use again

    MFM mum Azra Begum says:

    • Not a sun cream that I would use again, because my baby developed a rash all over after first use
    • Hard to absorb
    • Has to be rubbed excessively to stop white smears on skin
    • Easy to store, however I'm worried that if the bottle was left in a handbag or in a travel bag it could leak out
    • Accompanied by good instructions, which are simple to understand

    MFM mum Samantha Baker says: 

    • LIKE IT
    • A pleasant, silky cream but it takes a while to absorb
    • Cap looks reassuringly secure
    • Like the fact it's unscented but it would benefit from being hypoallergenic
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