Although we all love the sun, it's important to take care of your child's or baby's delicate skin if you're going outside. "Babies have extremely delicate skin which is more prone to damage from the sun than adult skin, for this reason you must take extra care to look after your child's skin," says Fiona Worsnop, expert dermatologist at Strautum Clinics.

Advertisement

In fact, babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight entirely if possibly. "If you can't find a shaded area, try and create one with a parasol buggy attachment or pram hood. Cover your bay's skin with light, cool clothing so that they do not overheat but are protected. Sun-protective clothing, which actually blocks or absorbs harmful UV radiation, offers the best protection. Babies should wear a wide-brimmed floppy hat, to keep their face, ears and neck shaded as well as sunglasses with built-in UV protection." Sunscreen on babies this young is usually not advised, and Fiona suggests it should be used "minimally".

As they get older, it will be harder to keep your baby, toddler or child out the sun, so a good sunscreen is essential. Sunscreen comes in many different formulas, SPFs, UVA ratings, bottles and more, so choosing one can feel quite overwhelming. To help you choose the best sunscreen, we've asked parents what ones they use and recommend and compiled a list of all the very best recommendations.

You may also want to check out our best kids' sunglasses and best baby sunglasses to protect your child's eyes too. Also, the best sun hats will help you baby stay protected from the sun and look cute.

Best sunscreen for kids and babies at a glance

  • Best sunscreen for sensitive skin: La Roce-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Pediatrics SPF50+, £16
  • Best sunscreen for the face: Soltan Kids Sunstick SPF50+, £3.50
  • Best spray sunscreen: Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Classic Trigger Spray Sun Cream SPF50+, £10
  • Best roll-on sunscreen: Nivea Sun Kids Sun Cream Green Coloured Roll-On SPF50+, £4.50
  • Best sunscreen for eczema-prone skin: Childs Farm SPF50+ Sun Cream, £11.99
  • Best budget-buy sunscreen: Asda Kids Sun Lotion Spray SPF50 High, £3.60
  • Best sunscreen for one application: Riemann P20 SPF50+ Suncream for Kids, £15.99
  • Best sunscreen for babies: Soltan Baby Protect & Moisture Lotion SPF50+, £3.50
  • Best sunscreen for sustainability: Toddle Born Wild Sunscreen Spray SPF50+, £12.99
  • Best sunscreen bundle-buy: Soltan Family Essentials Travel Pack, £9

What to look for when buying sunscreen for kids

SPF – "SPF stands for sun protection factor, it refers to protection against Ultraviolet B radiation, the UV most responsible for sunburn. It's a measure of how much longer you can stay in the sun before burning, compared to wearing no SPF. The higher SPF on the label, the better protection it offers. For children, you should look for a sunscreen product with a minimum SPF 30, the high the better," Says expert dermatologist, Fiona Worsnop. Therefore, it's important to check the SPF of the sunscreen before purchasing. All sunscreens listed in this article are SPF 50.

UVA protection – "Protection against both UVA and UVB is extremely important in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer, and also reduces sun damage related skin changes which accumulate over a lifetime," says our expert dermatologist Fiona. "You should look for excellent protection against UVA; at least 4 or 5 star rating is recommended," she explains.

The UVA star rating indicated the percentage of UVA radiation that’s been absorbed by that particular sunscreen compared to UVB, so what you're ideally looking for is both a high SPF and a high UVB star rating. However, this star rating is a UK initiative and not a globally standardised term. You may also see the UVA logo in a circle: this means the sun cream adheres to EU recommendations which state that UVA protection should be at least a third of the SPF rating. You can also look for the words "broad spectrum" on packaging.

Formula – Sunscreens can be bought in many different formulas; lotions, sprays, roll ons, mists. It is up to you which you think is most practical and will be easier to apply to your child. For older kids it's also important as to which ones they find easier to put on themselves if they need to wear sunscreen at school.

Water resistant– This again, very much depends on when the sunscreen is going to be used, if they're just at school or sat in the garden then a water resistant sunscreen may not be necessary. However, if the paddling pool is out or you're on holiday and they're going in the pool or sea, then a water resistant sunscreen can be very beneficial and probably a necessity.

Capacity– If you're going on holiday, it's essential that your sunscreen will last the whole holiday, especially if you only use a specific brand that you may not be able to locate abroad. Always make sure you have enough sunscreen, accounting for many applications.

Duration– Different sunscreens last for varying amount of times. Some are one application a day (although do be careful) and some need to be reapplied every few hours.

Here’s our pick of the best sunscreens for kids…

1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Pediatrics Lotion SPF 50+, £16

– Best for sensitive skin

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dermo-Pediatrics Lotion SPF 50+

SPF: 50+ | UVA: Has UVA logo in circle | Formula: Lotion | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 100ml

This sun cream is ideal for kids with sensitive skin thanks to its minimalist hypo-allergenic formula which contains no preservatives, parabens, colourants, fragrance or lanolin.

It's easy to apply with a moisturising velvety texture and claims to be very water resistant, non-greasy and non-sticky.

Parent tester Jessica who has used this sun cream with her 6 year old son since he was 2 said, "the cream is super quick to absorb and doesn't leave white marks. It's very water resistant and moisturising whilst not being sticky. My son reacted to lots of other brands when he was young and I wouldn't use any other brand on him. It's expensive but it lasts a while and in my opinion is worth it".

Alexander, another parent tester who uses this sun cream on her 13 month old who has eczema and sensitive skin recommended it and said, "I chose it as it's one of the brands that doesn't upset my skin. It rubs in easily and smells lovely".

More like this

Pros: Very water resistant, moisturising, suitable for sensitive skin and not sticky or greasy
Cons: Quite expensive

Available from: Boots and Feel Unique

2. Soltan Kids Sunstick SPF 50+, £3.50

– Best for the face

Soltan Kids Sunstick SPF 50+

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Stick | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 25g

The Soltan Sunstick is great for applying sun cream to your child's face, as it's a hard texture, much like a deodorant stick, it means it won't run into your child's eyes.

The stick has a UVA rating of 5, which is the highest it is and it also claims to be extra water resistant too. This is also great for just throwing into your child's school bag as it's small and mess free.

Parent tester Lucy uses this with her son who has eczema and said, "It doesn't annoy my son's skin and it's perfect to keep in my bag as it's small and super easy to apply as the sun cream is hard and you just rub it over. It's perfect for the face as it doesn't run into his eyes". Parent tester Meredith also uses this with her children and agrees that it makes applying sun cream so much easier.

Pros: Can't run into child's eyes due to hard formula, water resistant, highest UVA rating, easy to apply and mess free.
Cons: Quite a small capacity and may not be suitable for whole body application

Available from: Boots

3. Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Classic Trigger Spray Sun Cream SPF50+, £10

– Best spray sun cream

Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Classic Trigger Spray Sun Cream SPF50+

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Spray | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 300ml

This spray has been specially designed to not stick to sand and help prevent dryness due to salt and chlorine. It has Aloe Vera to refresh and hydrate your child's skin and it water resistant to help protect your child.

The spray bottle makes it easy to quickly spray and apply. If that's not enough, the bottle is eco-designed, recyclable and made with recyclable plastic.

Parent tester Claire uses this sun cream on her 7-year-old daughter and said, "We both have sensitive skin and have never had any issues with it, it doesn't stain our clothes, isn't greasy and doesn't take long to soak into the skin as the spray is light. It's literally spray wait around 1 minute and go, it's waterproof too".

Pros: Highest UVA rating, sand and water resistant, eco-friendly bottle, isn't greasy and has a large capacity
Cons: Quite expensive

Available from: Boots, Look Fantastic and Sainsbury's

4. Nivea Sun Kids Sun Cream Green Coloured Roll-On SPF50+, £4.50

– Best roll-on

Nivea Sun Kids Sun Cream Green Coloured Roll-On SPF50+

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Roll-on | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 50ml

This Nivea roll-on is is handy for on the go but also, thanks to its green colouring, it makes it fun for kids to apply to themselves. The sun cream is water resistant too.

The green colouring also helps to see where you've already applied sun cream and where needs to be done.

Parent tester Maria uses this sun cream her 7 year old daughter and said, "The sun cream rubs in well and the colour helps my daughter to apply it herself, which is great as she has ginger hair and fair skin with freckles so always needs sunscreen".

Pros: Coloured to make for easy application, water resistant and small making it great for school bags and on the go
Cons: Quite a small capacity and some people may not like coloured sun cream

Available from: Boots Tesco and Ocado

5. Childs Farm SPF50+ Sun Cream, £11.99

–Best for eczema-prone skin

Childs Farm SPF50+ Sun Cream

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 3 star rating | Formula: Lotion | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 125ml

If your child has eczema then you may already use Childs Farm's toiletries. Their sun cream is designed to keep your child's skin moisturised and hydrated and it's dermatologically approved for sensitive and eczema-prone skin.

It has no artificial colours, parabens, SLSs or mineral oils. The sun scream is also water resistant. However, it does only have a UVA rating of 3. On this, Childs Farm says, "our UVA star rating is 3, which a good level of protection and meets the EU requirements for UVA protection. As far as we know, all sunscreens that are suitable for sensitive and also eczema-prone skin have achieved a 3* rating, as it is has not been possible to achieve a 5* rating using ingredients that are suitable for sensitive and eczema-prone skin."

Parent tester Kayleigh uses this sun cream on her 11 month and 4 year old daughters who both have sensitive and eczema-prone skin and said, "we love all Childs Farm products, so it felt natural to use their sun cream as well. It rubs in nicely and dries quickly which is what you need when you have energetic girls".

Pros: Great for eczema-prone skin and water resistant
Cons: Only has a UVA rating of 3

Available from: Boots, Amazon and Tesco

6. Asda Kids Sun Lotion Spray SPF 50 High, £3.60

– Best budget-buy

Asda Kids Sun Lotion Spray SPF 50 High

SPF: 50 | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Spray | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 200ml

This Asda sun cream may be a great price but it still offers 5 stars UVA rating and is water resistant. It also comes in a handy spray bottle to make application easy, although the formula doesn't have the added anti-stick benefits of our recommended spray bottle from Ambre Solaire, and some users have reported it's prone to staining clothes if it's not rubbed in properly.

Parent tester Jodie uses this sun cream with her 3 year old son and said, "It's a good price and is very quick to absorb and easy to rub in". The 200ml bottle is great for throwing in a beach bag and this is represents a really great value option that's easy to grab during your supermarket shop.

Pros: Great value, water resistant, easy spray application and maximum UVA protection
Cons: May cause some staining

Available from: Asda

7. Riemann P20 SPF50+ Suncream for Kids, £15.99

– Best for one application

Riemann P20 SPF50+ Suncream for Kids

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 4 star rating | Formula: Lotion | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 100ml

Riemann's P20 sun cream claims to provide protection for up to 10 hours and is water resistant for up to 3 hours. It's dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic and allergy-certified whilst providing a 4 star UVA rating.

The 10 hour protection is great if you find it hard to top up properly during the day (or if you have a school or childcare provider that won't apply sunscreen) but do note that you should still try to ensure you're reapplying frequently whenever you can.

Parent tester Spyroula who uses this sun cream with her 6 year old son who has eczema and 4 year old daughter said, "Although pricey, I'm very happy with it, my son has eczema and it lasts 10 hours and 3 hours in the water so it can last all day whilst at school and when on holiday 3 hours whilst swimming". Parent tester Chloe, mum of son, Henry aged 2, said, "We've never burnt, we tried some cheaper but Henry has eczema so they all brought him out in rashes. It's really easy to apply too and it takes a few minutes to absorb".

Pros: Lasts up to 10 hours and 3 hours in water, seems to work well with eczema-prone skin and water resistant
Cons: Quite expensive and only UVA rating 4

Available from: Boots, Amazon and Superdrug

8. Soltan Baby Protect & Moisture Lotion SPF50+, £3.50

– Best for babies

Soltan Baby Protect & Moisture Lotion SPF50+

SPF: 50+ | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Lotion | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 50ml

This sun cream is gentle whilst offering very high protection, with a 5 star UVA rating, making it ideal for babies.

It's dermatologically tested and has no colour or fragrance to irritate your baby's delicate skin. It's also water resistant too.

Parent tester Rosie, uses Soltan with her 11 month old son and said, "It absorbs really quickly and doesn't leave yellow stain on clothes like other brands we have used. A little bit goes a long way, even with me reapplying constantly as I'm so paranoid. I also think it's priced well.

Pros: Gentle formula for a baby's skin, highest UVA rating, absorbs quickly and doesn't leave marks on clothes and water resistant
Cons: Small capacity

Available from: Boots

9. Toddle Born Wild Sunscreen Spray SPF50+, £12.99

– Best for sustainability

Toddle Born Wild Sunscreen Spray SPF50+

SPF: 50 | UVA: 4 star rating | Formula: Spray | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 100ml

This sun cream is suitable for vegans and excellent for looking after the planet. They are provided in bottles that can be refilled to reduce waste and pollution. If you don't wish to refill the bottle they are recyclable and can be responsible disposed of.

As for the sun cream itself, its light on the skin. water resistant and provides 4 star UVA protection and is dermatologically and paediatrician approved. The spray also makes for easy application.

Parent tester Emma used this on her now 15 month old son and said, "I bought it because it was cruelty free and offered great protection. It rubs in easily and absorbs quite quickly, it also doesn't stain".

Pros: Sustainable and reusable bottle, vegan and cruelty-free formula and easy spray application and water resistant
Cons: Only UVA 4 star rating

Available from: Amazon

10. Soltan Family Essentials Travel Pack, £9

– Best bundle buy

Soltan Family Essentials Travel Pack

SPF: 50+ and 30 | UVA: 5 star rating | Formula: Lotion | Water resistant: Yes | Capacity: 50ml kids, 100ml adult and 50ml Aftersun

This bundle buy is great for a family holiday as it has sunscreen for adults and kids. The pack includes Kids SPF 50+, Adults SPF 30, Adults SPF 50+ and some Aftersun.

All the sun creams have maximum 5 star UVA protection and are water resistant.

The bundle comes packages in a see-through zip bag to keep them all tidy and make it easy to pack and travel with.

Parent tester Karla, mum of 6 year old twins said, "I love the fact that you can buy this as a set and get all the bits, including Aftersun etc in one go".

Parent tester Laura, mum of 2 and 4 year old also likes Soltan, "It works on my children, goes on well, runs in quickly and doesn't affect their skin," She said.

Pros: Comes in a bundle with adult and kids sun cream, water resistant and maximum UVA protection
Cons: Only 50ml of kids sun cream included

Available from: Boots

How did we choose our 10 of the Best?

When testing and selecting the sunscreen, we considered features such as; protection, water resistance, capacity and ease of application as well as how it would work with different skin types.

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don't just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

What type of sunscreen is best for kids?

We know different sun creams appeal to different families and nowadays you’ll find a whole range of formulas available from lotions to sprays and roll-ons. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it all depends on how much you apply and how often you reapply when your kids are in the sun.

Parents we spoke to said they like lotion formulas for kids as you can see exactly where you’ve applied, but also mentioned how handy sprays are for topping up application or towards the end of the day when there’s less sun exposure.

“We use cream because you can see where it is, and make sure it covers properly. The only problem is it's a pain to get out of t-shirt cuffs, shorts and socks,” said mum Laura.

Roll-on applicators are handy for using on the go, as mum Kayleigh found: “I prefer the roll on lotions, they don’t get everywhere when you’re trying to apply them and it also means I can put one each inside my kids school bags for them to reapply themselves throughout the day.”

How long does sunscreen last?

You might come across some sunscreens that offer “once a day” protection but it’s not advised to just apply once if your kids are outside for an extended period of time, even if that's what it says on the bottle.

In fact, the British Association of Dermatologists (BDA) advises reapplying at least every 2 hours if you’re out in the sun.

You should also remember to always reapply after swimming or towel drying. Water resistant formulas will keep kids protected for two 20 minute intervals (40 minutes total) of moderate activity in water according to the BDA, but towel drying may remove the product so it’s always worth reapplying.

Advertisement

For more information on keeping kids skin protected in the skin, check out our detailed guide where we speak to Cancer Research UK.

About our expert

Dr Fiona Worsnop is a UK-trained Consultant Dermatologist. She studied Medicine at the University of Nottingham, where she also completed an intercalated Bachelor of Medical Sciences degree. She is now an NHS consultant and consults on all general dermatology in both adults and children, including eczema, psoriasis, skin rashed, mole checks, acne and rosachea. Her specialist areas of interest include emergency dermatology, such as skin cancer.

About the author

Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for Immediate Media's Parenting team. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products for parents, ranging from best sleep aids to best playpens. She has a First-Class Honours Psychology degree where she developed a strong interest in child development. 
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement