The Most Recommended Sunblocks for Babies & Toddlers

Mum applying sunblock to toddler daughter

Our list of the ones that mums seem to love the most.

With summer fast approaching, we’re all looking forward to more days outdoors, by the beach, and around the pool. But as many of us know, the sun in Aotearoa – New Zealand is incredibly harsh and we have one of the highest rates of melanoma (skin cancer) worldwide, which is why it’s essential to apply  a broad-spectrum sunblock to protect the skin.

Having small amounts of daily sun exposure is important for providing the vitamin D that our bodies need but the higher the UV index, the greater the risk of sunburn. The best best way to keep your child safe from the sun is by:

  • Keeping them in the shade, including when in the pram.
  • Dressing them in clothing that protects their skin yet keeps them cool (dark-coloured, natural fabrics without too much stretch are ideal).
  • Making sure they’re wearing a wide-brimmed hat that protects their neck and ears.
  • Applying sunscreen, even on cloudy days, when it’s cool, and when you’re in the shade as UV rays can reflect off surfaces. They usually don’t need sunscreen between the months of May – August, unless in the mountains or in the water.

When trying a new sunscreen, it’s best to apply a small amount for a patch test at least 24 hours before you plan on using it to make sure your little one doesn’t have a reaction. Keep in mind that babies under six months of age have very sensitive skin so may react to sunblock – for this reason, some parents choose to keep their young baby in the shade and wait until they’re older to apply sunscreen.

For additional advice on sun safety, visit SunSmart.

My Sunshine natural sunscreen
My Sunshine Natural Sunscreen, $49.90.

My Sunshine was created by a Kiwi māmā who set out to achieve the ultimate in sun protection: a Zinc-based sunblock that offers SPF 30, high broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, contains no nasty chemicals, is not tested on animals, and is ocean and reef safe. Not only that, My Sunshine was one of only eight sunscreens to pass Consumer NZ’s sunscreen protection tests for SPF and broad spectrum in 2019, so you can rest assured that this sunscreen does exactly as promised and is safe for your little one’s precious skin.

Nivea Sun Kids 50+
Nivea Sun Kids Sensitive Protect & Care Lotion SPF50+, $15, from The Warehouse.

Affordable and protective, this is water-resistant sunblock formula is ideal for days at the beach or afternoons by the pool. Tested by paediatricians, it’s specially designed to suit children’s delicate skin and protect them from sunburn.

Frankly Eco Sunscreen from Mildred & Co
Frankly Eco Natural Sunscreen, $30, from Mildred & Co.

If you’re looking for a high quality, natural Zinc Oxide sunscreen, this sunscreen from plant-based Aussie skincare brand, Frankly Eco is gentle on the skin  – making it perfect for babies and toddlers – but doesn’t compromise on protection. Regarded for being non-greasy, applying clear and drying fast on the skin, it offers broad-spectrum, SPF50 protection. This natural sunscreen is also reef safe and approved by the Australian TGA for its claims.

Skinnies Kids Sun Buster SPF50
Skinnies Kids Sun Buster SPF50, $24.50.

Made for especially for kiddos who love to be outdoors, the Skinnies Kids Sun Buster sunblock promises SPF50 and UVA/UVB broad-spectrum for super high protection. It contains no nasties, is reef safe, and is 2 hours water resistant. Plus, it comes in a handy pocket size so you can easily keep one in the car, one in the beach bag and another in your baby bag for when the next sunny day calls.

Oasis Sunscreen
Oasis Sun Original Healthy Family Sunscreen SPF30, $39.99.

An ideal option for the whole whānau, Oasis Sun SPF30 is designed to protect you and your tamariki from the harsh sun in New Zealand. Its gentle, all-natural formula is made in New Zealand and has been given the seal of approval by The Eczema Association for use on sensitive skin, making it suitable for babies and toddlers. One thing to keep in mind is that this sunscreen is not water resistant but it has been tested in Australia at SPF35 against Australia New Zealand Standard 2604:2012 to ensure it meets its claims.

Cetaphil Sun Kids
Cetaphil Sun SPF 50+ Kids Lotion, $29.99, from Chemist Warehouse.

Another one that lives up to its promises, this SPF50+ sunblock passed the Consumer NZ sunscreen tests in 2020 for its SPF and broad-spectrum label claims. As it’s a liposomal formulation – not a physical one – you need to apply it 15-20 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to sink into the skin. It’s a great option for kids who love to swim with 4 hours of water resistance (although they recommend reapplying every 2 hours). Plus, it also comes in a handy pump dispenser for easy application.

Solar Budies
Solar Buddies Sunscreen Applicator, $22.95, from Sleepytot. 

Okay, it’s not technically a sunscreen but trust us when we say this product is a game changer for blocking up an active toddler! This refillable sunscreen applicator allows you to fill it with your favourite sunblock (perhaps one of the ones we’ve listed, above) for easy, mess-free application. The head has a roller ball in the middle and a sponge around the perimeter so you don’t have to get any sunscreen on your hands; it evenly distributes it over the skin for you.