Ever wrestle a greased pig? Neither have I, but I have put sunscreen on a baby, and it's kind of the same thing. Yet I'm still diligent when applying the lotion to my kids because it's so important. Every medical professional will encourage you to slather your baby in the stuff, but what's the best way to apply sunscreen to your baby when they never stop wiggling?
It's important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies under 6 months of age avoid sunscreen. The AAP instead recommended that you cover your baby in a hat and long, loose clothing, and keep them out of the sun. For babies over 6 months, the AAP suggested that a liberal amount of sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with an SPF of at least 15, but not over 30, with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection should be applied 30 minutes before exposure to the sun. I know it's tempting to wait until you're at the beach to apply the sunblock, but it really needs time to cure and begin protecting your baby from the sun.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, or more often if your baby is sweating a lot or getting wet. Remember, even if the sunscreen says waterproof, you still need to reapply.
When I was a new mom, I took a baby care class that was really helpful. On the AAP website, the only information on "the best way to apply sunscreen on babies," is "use liberally." Helpful, and yet not. However, at this baby course I took, they did give me helpful tips. It was taught by baby nurse, Lauren Fishetti, and I contacted her for a refresher.
Fishetti tells Romper that you should "lie your baby on a towel on the floor because they're going to get slippery, and it's a matter of safety. Then, divide your baby into quadrants — this way you won't reapply or forget any areas. Start at the quadrant of your dominant hand and work clockwise, saving the face for last." She says this is because babies can be real jerks when you're slathering thick cream on their faces, but tend to enjoy the rest of it. "Make sure you use enough that you can see a thin coat of white across all areas of their skin before you rub it in. Don't forget the webbing between their fingers and the spots between their toes." Also, if your baby is anything like mine, that swim suit or diaper is going to sag in the back at some point, so don't forget the top of their bum.
A little tip I can give you, and I won't tell you how I know this (hi, 2005), but those rash guard shirts are great for a reason. Nipple sunburns are the worst kind of pain. It's possible it hurts worse than the initial pain of breastfeeding or surf rash — trust me. Make sure they're covered, unless you want a really, really angry baby.
Fishetti says that when you get to the face, a stick may be easier than lotion. Paint stripes across baby's face (like you would if you're a Kardashian contouring) and then rub it in, making sure to get the ears, the neck, hairline, and scalp if your baby is bald one. Fishetti reiterated what the AAP says about reapplying. "Reapply every two hours at least, and try to keep your child out of the peak sun of the day if that's possible." She also went on to say that as soon as you get home, give that baby a bath, making sure to get all the residue off and allowing their skin to breathe.
Going to the beach or the park in the summer is some of the most fun you can have, and as long as you take precautions, your baby should be safe and comfortable. And if you go out with your partner alone and want to sunbathe topless, just remember what I said. You don't want that kind of pain in your life.