Sunscreen for Infants

On the beach with baby
On the beach with baby (sun hat removed for photo)

When trying to choose the right sunscreen for your infant, you arrive at the store, only to be completely overwhelmed by the row upon row of choices. Brand names you’ve heard of, brands that you haven’t, sunscreen for babies, sunscreen for kids, sunscreen for adults, sprays, lotions, ingredients with unpronounceable words…

How do you choose?

Here are some things to look for:

  • provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection
  • has an SPF of at least 15 to 30
  • is water-resistant. Even if they aren’t going swimming, they may still sweat.
  • is hypoallergenic, fragrance free and PABA free especially if your child has sensitive skin.

To get good protection from UVA rays, look for sunscreens that list avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide as one of their ingredients. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can be less irritating than avobenzone. To get good protection from UVB rays look for one of these ingredients:

  • Benzophenones (Oxybenzone, Dioxybenzone, Sulisobenzone)
  • Cinnamates (Cinoxate, Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
  • Menthyl anthranilate, also known as Meradimate
  • Mexoryl SX, also known as Ecamsule
  • Salicylates (Homosalate, Octisalate, Trolamine Salicylate, Octisalate)
  • Padimate 0
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc Oxide

Other helpful things to know about sunscreen ingredients:

Mexoryl SX is the newest sunscreen ingredient approved by the FDA. It provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays and was previously only available in Europe for many years. It is only available in high-end sunscreens, such as La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Cream and Lancome UV Expert 20.

Helioplex is a name brand for a sunscreen stabilizer that makes sunscreen ingredients more photostable, so that they don’t break down when exposed to the sun.

Unlike all of the other chemical sunscreen ingredients, which absorb the sun’s rays, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are physical sunscreens that actually reflect the UVA and UVB rays of the sun.

Of these sunscreen ingredients, the ones that may concern some parents include retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) and oxybenzone. Although many experts think they are safe, it is a common sunscreen controversy, and some parents choose to avoid them.

For those looking for a natural product, Badger Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 Chamomile is Certified Natural and contains only organic ingredients. The medicinal ingredient is 18.75% zinc oxide, which reflect both UVA and UVB rays. All of the other ingredients are things like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Beeswax, Natural Vitamin E and Cocoa Butter to name a few. It’s pricier than other sunscreens but it contains no hard to pronounce chemicals like some of the others.

The Canadian Cancer Society cautions to try to keep toddlers and children out of the sun, between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or more.

You shouldn’t use sunscreen on babies under 6 month of age so for them, your best bet is sun protection clothing, made with fabric that provides an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 15 to 50+ and seeking shade.


Club Med – The Easy-Peasy Baby-Friendly All-Inclusive

Photo By: Cody

Before having kids, my usual travel style was to stay in a combination of self-catering apartments (longer term stays so we could do our own cooking), hostels (for short stays in expensive cities), hotels (from budget type to luxury, depending on the country) and beach bungalows (without hot water!) Not that I had never experienced an all-inclusive resort because I had been to a few over the years, but those were few and far between, and never with my hubby. He was just not the “all inclusive type”.

All that changed when we were both back at work full time, dealing with daycare drops offs and pick ups and all the usual craziness of running a house hold with a baby. Having to cram in dinner, bath time, bedtime, dishes, laundry, prepping lunches for the next day and a little adult time together before falling into bed exhausted. Just to get up early to do it all again the next day.

We needed a vacation, a nice holiday away from the November rain. One where we could re-charge, relax, have fun with our son as well as some couple time and most of all, where we didn’t have to worry about a thing.

We chose to spend a week at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico, chosen because it had a Baby Club and also because I had enough Airmiles to cover most of the costs of our stay there.

From the moment we arrived, where they greeted us with cool towels and drinks, to the moment we left, where they literally fed us chocolate truffles as we were getting into the taxi for the airport, we were in Paradise.

As part of the Baby Club welcome, our 15 month old received a complimentary stroller for use during our stay, the baby bed was set up in our room, a baby bathtub was provided and we had access to baby food and bottle warming facilities 24 hours per day.

The childcare services cost extra for kids under 4 but are included for the 4 – 10 year olds. There are also lots of activities for 11 to 17 year olds that are included and led by the GO’s (GO stands for Gentils Organisateurs (Genteel Organizers), which is what the Club Med staff are called). The Baby Club is open from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

All Club Meds include all meals, snacks, drinks (even the alcoholic ones!), tons of activities and shows. The only show we made it to was the circus show, but they offer different types of shows every evening, as well as babysitting in the evenings for an additional charge.

A typical day for us was spent having breakfast as a family and then doing an activity like visiting the playground, pool or beach. Then we would drop Dante off at the Baby Club as nap time approached and have several hours as a couple to enjoy together before picking him up again. It felt like the best of both worlds as we had quality couple time and quality family time together. Dante napped at Baby Club so we weren’t stuck in our room during those hours, but instead got to sip margaritas by the pool, enjoy a quiet lunch, play tennis, learn how to sail and even try out the flying trapeze (scary but fun!).

The food at Club Med Ixtapa was amazing. Normally I’m not a big fan of buffet style dining, but here, the food was a cut above. They had a wide variety of different options from seafood to Indian to Mexican, freshly baked breads and croissants that could rival a Parisian café, lots of fresh fruit, meats, veggies and pastas.

One morning the chef visited our table and asked how we were enjoying the food and if we had any requests. I raved about the pain au chocolate (chocolate croissants) that were served one morning but that hadn’t appeared since. The next day at breakfasts, there were chocolate croissants.

It was really nice to dine out with our 15 month old and not have to worry if he was messy or loud. Practically everyone else there either had kids or grandkids (definitely not a place you would want to go to as a childless couple). There are other Club Meds better suited to adults only. One grandmother I met had been to Club Med fifteen times because she enjoyed it so much.

If you are looking for an easy, nothing to worry about kind of getaway, I highly recommend Club Med Ixtapa. They have 15 Club Meds with Baby Clubs around the world, so there are many destinations options to choose from.

Keeping baby’s nap routine while traveling

Baby napping while traveling

Baby napping while travelingOne of the biggest mistakes parents make when traveling is trying to pack too much fun into one day.

You just can’t travel like you used to in your kid-free days. You have a baby now and they need to sleep. A lot.

If you have a newborn (0 – 3 months old), they are taking 4 to 5 naps per day and probably don’t have a regular sleep schedule yet. They can usually nap anywhere so being on the go is a lot easier at this age. As long as your baby can nap in a stroller or carrier, you don’t have to worry much about traveling affecting their naps when they are under 3 months old.

Once your baby is between 3 and 6 months old, they should be napping at least 3 times per day and have an established nap schedule. Infants between 6 and 14 months typically require two solid naps per day and toddlers (15 months to 3 years old), require one nap per day. This is when traveling with baby and keeping them on their sleep schedule becomes more difficult.

Keeping as close to your baby’s regular sleep schedule as possible is the ideal but this just isn’t always realistic when you travel.

Tips to keeping your baby’s nap routine:

  • Try to have at least one of your child’s naps in the same place they sleep at night (ie Pack and Play).
  • Use the same nap/sleep routine you do at home and be sure to pack their favorite blanket or stuffed toy.
  • Make sure you offer your baby a place to nap like a stroller or carrier while you are out.
  • Plan your excursions around your baby’s nap schedule. For example, let them have their first nap of the day where they sleep at night, their second nap in a stroller or carrier while you are out, and their third back at “home”.

It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new so hold tight to your routines and be consistent. Within the first day or two, they should be sleeping well in their new environment.

Babies and insect repellent: What you need to know

Photo by Håkan Dahlström.

Insect repellent is not recommended for children under 6 months of age. Use bug netting over cribs, playpens and strollers.

For products containing DEET, Health Canada recommends up to 10% concentration:

  • For children aged six months to two years, applied no more than once daily.
  • For children aged two to 12, applied up to three times daily.
  • One application of 10% DEET offers three hours of protection against mosquitos.

They also recommend that products containing the following not be used on children under 3:

  • P-menthane 3.8-diol
  • Citronella
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Soybean Oil

Soybean oil, a 2% blocker repellent, is a personal insect repellent that provides protection for three and a half hours against mosquitos and for up to eight hours against black flies. There are no age restrictions or limitations on frequency of use with these products.

Tips for using insect repellent on infants and children:

  • read and follow directions on the product label
  • apply it to your own hands and then rub it on them
  • apply only to exposed skin and on clothing, never apply under clothing
  • do not apply to cuts, wounds or irritated skin
  • do not apply to young children’s hands and avoid contact with eyes and mouth
  • apply only a small amount, heavy application is not needed for effectiveness
  • after returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water
  • apply only in well ventilated areas and avoid applying around food
  • if you suspect that your child is having a reaction to the repellant, stop using immediately, wash it off their skin and get medical help. Take the product container with you.


Three things you MUST do before getting on an airplane with a baby

Photo by César Rincón

1. Use the restroom!

Make sure you go pee yourself and be sure to change your baby. Start the flight off with an empty bladder and a clean diaper. If the flight is short enough, you may be able to avoid having to use the small airplane lavatory altogether. If not, at least you’ll be able to wait until the fasten seatbelt sign has been turned off before you have to go yourself.

2. Make sure your carry on bag is stocked with all the essentials you’ll need to make it through the flight.

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • changing pad
  • extra clothes for baby
  • extra shirt for you
  • bottle of water for you
  • snack for you
  • soother or chew toy
  • favorite/new toys
  • bottles and formula
  • breastfeeding cover up
  • receiving blanket
  • food for baby if needed
  • hand sanitizer
  • gum
  • pen for filling out forms

If you discover that you’ve forgotten to pack anything, you can buy it at the airport. Of course you’ll need to buy your bottled water after you’ve cleared security.

3. Check in at the gate before they make the boarding announcements to get your “Gate Checked” tag(s) for your stroller and/or car seat.

The agent will give you a tag to put on your stroller (and your car seat if you are traveling with both) that indicates that it will be stowed on board. It’s much better to ask for this ahead of time than to wait until there is a line up of people waiting to board. When it is your turn to board, you wheel your stroller down the ramp, fold it up and leave it outside of the aircraft for the ground crew to pick up.