The best sun creams for babies, toddlers and children

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 and UVA protection) ratings. 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.

    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.

    Check out our 11 of the best children's sunglasses too!

  • Childs Farm 50+ SPF Sun Spray, £12 for 125ml (= £10.41/100ml)

    UVA and UVB protection:50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
    Suitable For Sensitive & Eczema Prone Skin
    Water Resistant

    Available from Childs Farm

    MFM mum Liz says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • The product itself is very thin which meant it easily sprayed onto arms and legs in little squirts. I found this easier to apply than a hefty dollop of a thicker cream, which can be liable to splodge on the floor!
    • It didn’t leave a whitish mark despite having an SPF of 50+ and there was no greasy sheen
    • The 125ml bottle was a handy size to take to the beach but that meant the writing on the side was very small and tricky to read.
    • The product costs £12 for 125ml which puts it at the top end of the market; my usual sun cream costs £1.99 for 200ml from Aldi. The Childs Farm felt more luxurious though, and I much preferred rubbing it into my face than my usual cheaper brand.
    • My daughter has mild eczema on her arms and I was very happy that the Childs Farm did not inflame her skin at all, even when she had spent a day at Brighton beach, in and out of the salty water.
    • Inevitably the pump action spray led to some of the product squirting onto clothing but a machine wash at 30C removed all traces.

    MFM mum Dani says:

    • I DON'T LIKE IT
    • The Packaging is sweet, and looks geared to babies and children. This is quite a thick spray, but it rubs well and doesn’t leave any white stripes. 
    • It is easy to wash off, easy to use, in terms of spraying it out, but it does have a slightly chemical, if typical suncream smell (it is fragrance free).
    • I tried it on myself and two children – 4 and 8 years old. The youngest one is quite easy going and said it was fine, the eldest child who insists on ‘mist’ style sun protection really disliked it.
    • She hates the sensation of anything on her skin, and we found this clinged to her body hair and was really tacky. The texture made clothes cling to it, and it did stain. 
    • Would have liked to have seen how many star UVA protection it offers (the best ones have 5 star UVA). It also has aloe listed I the ingredients which is a benefit.
    • As a family, we use Soltan, Nivea and sometimes Ambre Solaire. It’s not superior to these brands. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this spray again. It’s costly, and doesn’t offer anything unusual.

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  • Green People Organic Children Lotion 30, £18.50 for 150ml (= £12.33/100ml)

    UVB and UVA protection: SPF 30 –  high 
    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 Green People

    MFM mum Sarah says:

    • I 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 Katherine says:

    • I DON’T LIKE IT
    • This cream is very thick and a bit ‘chalky’. It took a while for it to soak into the skin.
    • It claims to be ‘scent free’ on the packaging but I disagree. For want of a better word, it smells a bit… weird. Which meant that so did my boys and my hands for a good while after it had been applied.
    • My four-year-old asked what “that funny smell” was as I was applying it to him.
    • I like to use factor 50 on my children, and this is only 30. I really wish I liked the product more because it would be great to support a company that is so green, but the smell and consistency of the cream is too off-putting.
    • At £18.50 for 150ml, I think it’s expensive and not good value for money. 

    MFM mum Georgina says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • This is a fantastic product for children with sensitive skin, with no harmful products. It’s quite thick and takes a while to rub in but it provide great protection and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin.
    • One of my daughters has very sensitive skin and has suffered with bad eczema and allergies. I was worried it was too thick but it is formulated for children prone to eczema and psoriasis. It’s non pore-clogging and really suited her skin.
    • This is ideal for sunny holidays and dipping in and out of the pool. It didn’t come off easily during water activities.
    • This cream contains 78 per cent organic ingredients, including soothing aloe vera and green tea. It has high protection against UVB and UVA rays and contains no dangerous chemicals, so I felt very confident using it on my children.
    • This is one of my favourite sun creams because it is natural, yet also protective. I have previously used Aveeno baby sun cream and I like these products equally.
    • More expensive than some other children’s sun products but it’s worth the money.

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  • Wilko kids sensitive Sun Spray, £3.50 for 150ml (= £1.75/100ml)

    UVB protection: 5 star
    UVA protection: 50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
    Water resistant 

    Available from Wilko

    MFM mum Carolyn says:

    • IT'S OK
    • It was really easy to wash off - no scrubbing required.
    • It was fine with all clothing except white garments. It stained my little girls white dress around the neckline.
    • Initially it has a very strong alcohol smell that is similar to hand sanitiser. This smell does disappear quickly and then there is no smell at all.
    • Both the Wilko Sensitive spray and the lotion were very easy to run into the skin and absorbed fairly quickly. The lotion is a much thicker consistency so I preferred to use that in the morning as the initial barrier and the top up through the day by using the handier spray.
    • The spray has a nifty easy grip bottle that definitely comes in handy when taking the cap off or if you have slippery hands.
    • I was a little shocked to find alcohol denat and octocrylene so high up on the ingredients list on a kids product, but they are regularly used throughout the market.
    • If you are on a budget  and don’t mind the alcohol content then it’s a decent option. 
    • I probably wouldn’t use this product again because of alcohol content. My 17 month old twins have quite delicate skin and I feel that the alcohol would eventually really dry their skin out.

    MFM mum Becky says:

    • IT'S OK
    • My children are those odd ones who love suncream and they preferred the spray as it was easiest for them to rub in themselves.
    •  It was easy to rub in both the spray and the cream and they were easily absorbed although their skin felt sticky for a while. The spray came out quite thick and needed rubbing in as much as the cream.
    • There was no residue of the cream left after a bath!
    • The packaging claims the product is suitable for sensitive skin but it does contain SLS.
    • I was really happy with how well the product protected my children and how easy it was to use but I am put off by the fact it contains SLS.
    • I usually use a Green People suncream on the children which is mostly organic and has fewer chemicals in, but it does only offer SPF 30 and is several times the price of this one. It isn’t as sticky or as prone to staining though so I do think you get what you pay for.
    • I think this suncream offers great protection for the price and if you are looking for a bargain suncream then it is worth checking out.

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  • Riemann P20 factor 30 spray, £14 for 100ml (= £14/100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 30 - high
    UVA protection: 5 stars
    10 hours protection from one application

    Available from Amazon and Boots

    MFM mum Leah says:

    • I 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 says:

    • I DON'T LIKE IT
    • 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

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  • Garnier Ambre Solaire Sun Lotion 50+ SPF, £6.00 at Boots for 200ml (= £3/100ml)

    UVB protection: 3 star
    UVA protection: 50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
    Developed for fair, sensitive and sun intolerant skin

    Available from Superdrug, Sainsburys or Tesco

    MFM mum Katherine says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • The consistency is such that it rubs in easily – almost like a moisturiser – and doesn’t leave the skin sticky or clammy.
    • It says that it contains no perfume. The smell isn’t strong – it just smells like sun cream.
    • I like the design because the cream is squeezed from the bottom of the tube, which means I won’t have to turn it upside down and shake it a lot when it’s running low.
    • I got a streak on a T-shirt and, unfortunately, it didn’t wash off completely in the washing machine, but left a faint white mark.
    • I would use this cream again and prefer it to my usual Nivea sun cream. It’s high factor, absorbs nicely and having used Garnier products on my own skin, I trust the brand.

    MFM mum Alice says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • This cream is really light and it rubbed in very easily without leaving the stickiness that I sometimes find with sun cream, especially kids’ ones.
    • It washed off easily at bath time. I didn’t need to scrub any sticky residue off the children
    • My kids have suncream applied under duress! The fact that it rubbed in so easily meant I could get the job done quicker which is a bonus in everyone’s eyes!
    • This sun cream is water resistant and hypoallergenic. There are a lot of ingredients and they’re difficult to decipher unless you know your stuff, but I liked that it was free from fragrance and colourants.
    • As far as I could tell during the period I was using it, it didn’t leave any marks or cause staining on my children’s clothing, which has been an issue with other creams I’ve used in the past.
    • I usually buy Boots Soltan, just because I tend to shop in Boots and have always used their suncream on myself. It’s a similar price but it is stickier than the Ambre Solaire lotion so I think I’ve been converted!

    MFM mum Liz says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • This suncream comes in a large tube with a robust flip-top lid. It stayed closed and did not leak despite being jumbled amongst everything else at the bottom of my beach bag.
    • It’s a thick cream that left me reassured that I could easily see where I was rubbing it in as I put it on my children. But it took a while to absorb into the skin and even after a good ten minutes I still felt arms and legs had a whitish sheen to them.
    • We live by the beach and regularly swim in the sea and I normally use Aldi’s Mamia Baby 50+ sun lotion. This retails at £1.99 for 200ml, so the Garnier works out more than three times that price. We tried both products side by side on a hot day after school. After a splash in the sea I felt the Garnier still offered decent protection whereas more of the Aldi seemed to have washed off.
    • The Garnier also performed well on school sports day which was reassuring. I applied the suncream at 8.30am and when I saw my daughters on the school field at 12pm they were hot and sweaty but still protected from the sun.
    • I would be happy to use this cream again for days out because despite the higher price tag it is long-lasting. I wouldn’t use it on the beach or at a water park because all suncreams should be reapplied after swimming and this would get very pricey.

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  • Childs Farm Sun Cream 50+ SPF, £12 for 125ml (= £10.41/100ml)

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

    Available from Amazon and John Lewis

    UVA protection: 50+ spf sun spray for very high sun protection
    Suitable For Sensitive & Eczema Prone Skin
    Suitable for babies and upwards 

    Available from Childs Farm

    MFM mum Katherine says:

    I LIKE IT

    • This has a thinner consistency than you’d expect for a 50+ spf. It rubbed into the skin easily and was absorbed quickly. However, it left my boys’ skin a bit sticky.
    • It claims ‘no artificial colours, parabens, SLSs or mineral oils’, which is a plus point. The cream comes from the bottom of the tube, so I won’t have to frantically shake it and turn it upside down when it’s running low.
    • It states ‘fragrance free’ on the tube. The smell is neither pleasant nor unpleasant; it just smells of suncream.
    • There is a warning on the packaging that states: ‘Avoid contact with clothing, fabrics and surfaces. Permanent staining or material changes are possible even after the product is fully absorbed.’ But when I smeared some on a T-shirt and washed it in a regular wash, it come off with no trouble.
    • At £12 for 125ml, it’s quite pricey. However, a little of the cream goes a long way, so the tube may last you longer than other sun creams of the same size. Plus it’s ‘paediatrician and dermatologist approved’, so if your child has sensitive skin, I think it’s worth the extra money.

    MFM mum Sonali says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • Very easy to rub in and apply. It feels nice on my skin, so it must feel nice for my kids, too!
    • My kids are very happy for me to apply this sun cream, it blends relatively easily for such a high sun factor and doesn’t feel too sticky.
    • The bottle is recyclable, which is good, as I am trying to reduce my consumption of use-once or non-recyclable plastic.
    • I would use this sun cream again but probably wouldn’t seek it out over my first choice brand (Ultrasun) or a spray bottle.

    MFM mum Puneet says:

    • I LIKE IT
    • Fairly easy to rub in, not as thick as other creams with such a high SPF. Absorbs fast.
    • It looks a little shiny when on, so my 13-year-old wouldn’t use it as she said she looked ‘greasy’. And my 4-year-old found it sticky so she kept on wiping it off. My middle two children – aged 7 and 11 – didn’t mind it but prefer spray-ons.
    • At 12 pounds, I would say this is expensive for 125ml.
    • It is suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin – it didn’t sting my children at all so that seems to be true.

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  • Banana Boat Kids Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50, £11.99 for 360ml (= £3.33/100ml)

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

    Available from Amazon

    MFM mum Leah says:

    • I DON'T LIKE IT
    • 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 says:

    • I 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

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  • Nivea Sun Baby 50+ Moisturising Lotion, £6.50 for 200ml (= £3.25/100ml)

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

    Available from Boots or Superdrug

    MFM mum Jess says:

    • I 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 says:

    • I DON'T LIKE IT
    • 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 says: 

    • I 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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  • Piz Buin sensitive factor 30, £14.99 for 200ml - although generally sold at a discount (=£7.50 per 100ml)

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

    Available from AmazonBoots and Superdrug

    MFM mum Jess says:

    • I 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

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  • Lidl Cien Sun SPF50 spray, £2.99 for 250ml (=.91p per 100ml)

    UVB protection: SPF 50
    UVA protection: 5 stars
    Designed for sensitive skin

    Available from AmazonBoots and Superdrug

    MFM mum Dani says:

    • This spray absorbs easily, and there's absolutely no issues washing this cream off.
    • You only need to press it for a second to dispense the cream which comes out quite fast!
    • Cien says it is fragrance free, but if I had to say it smelt like something, it would be a bit like children’s washable paint!
    • My youngest daughter (4) is happy with this cream, but my eldest (8) would tolerate it, but feels it is a bit tacky.  We did find it stained our clothes a little, so I’d avoid wearing white with it. I’d like to add this cream does not show you how many UVA stars on the bottle, as usually, the more UVA stars a sunscreen has, the better the protection. I’d have liked to see this.
    • As a family, we all have different needs when it comes to sunscreen. My eldest child has to have a non sticky formulation as she can’t stand the feel of it on her skin. I have to have an allergy suncream as I suffer with prickly heat, so I almost always use Boots Soltan Sensitive. The Cien is great, and REALLY affordable (when usually you can be laying out something like £10 a bottle, for some of the bigger brands)
    • I would use this suncream again, but for my youngest child as the eldest found it too sticky.

  • Original Sprout Worry Free face and body sun cream 27, £12.50 for 90ml (= £13.88/100ml)

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

    Available from Amazon and John Lewis

    MFM mum Jess says:

    • IT'S OK
    • 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 nee
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Last updated on 16 July 2018

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