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What is the best sunscreen for kids?

What every parent needs to know.

What is the best sunscreen for kids?

As parents we want to make sure the sunscreen we apply to wiggly, running, summer-loving kids works as hard to protect their skin as we've worked to get it onto them. The sunscreen aisle can be kind of daunting for parents though, because with so many choices, it's hard to know which one to pick.

Unless you're a master label reader, you might not know exactly what you're looking for (or looking to avoid) in a sunscreen. Do I get the one with the highest SPF? Spray or lotion? Can I even put this on my baby? Which one is the best?

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Here's what you need to know before stocking up.

SPF matters (to a point)

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies under 6 months can wear a bit of sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 on their face and the back of their hands if there is no other way to keep them out of the sun, but shade is best for the youngest babies.

Kids over 6 months should always wear SPF 15 or higher, according to the AAP, but the American Academy of Dermatology goes even further, and recommends an SPF of 30 or higher. It's important to note that higher doesn't mean it's going to protect for longer. You can't crank it up to 100 and only apply once a day. Experts agree and are debunking the myth.

"A higher SPF may actually give you a false sense of protection (and you may stay out longer in the sun or forget to reapply sunscreen after getting out from the water), thus you may actually burn more," Dr. Ali Hendi, a board certified dermatologist, writes for Motherly.

Basically, anything in the SPF 30-50 range is going to be just fine. Although some sunscreens have higher SPF ratings on the bottle, they don't necessarily protect skin any better.

Ditch added fragrance if they have sensitive skin

A lot of parents worry about kids potentially having reactions to sunscreen, but according to the Canadian Dermatology Association, "in general, children under the age of two have more sensitive skin, but generally do not have problems with the use of sunscreens."

Kids—and anyone with sensitive skin—are actually more likely to react to preservatives or fragrances in a sunscreen than the actual sunscreen filter, so if your kiddo's skin is on the more sensitive side, steer clear of anything with added fragrances among the ingredients.

For example, Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is often highly ranked in sunscreen reviews and round-ups for its price point and sun protection, but the sweet scent may not be a great fit for a baby with a history of skin sensitivity. Something like Love Sun Body Natural Mineral Sunscreen Fragrance-Free SPF 30 or La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk (Consumer Reports' top rated sunscreen pick last summer) might be a better choice.

Be aware of these controversial ingredients

There are two ingredients at the center of a hot debate in the sunscreen world: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Although the American Academy of Dermatology says both ingredients are safe, many parents prefer sunscreens free from them.

Oxybenzone made headlines recently as lawmakers in Hawaii have sought to ban it due to links to coral damage and some animal studies suggest it may disrupt hormones, and retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A common in skin care products) was associated with increased cancer risk in animal studies.

For these reasons, the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that releases an annual Guide to Sunscreens, does not recommend sunscreens with these ingredients.

According to EWG, parents who want to avoid oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate should consider the following suncreens when selecting from those marketed for babies and kids:

Other suggestions:

If you, like the American Academy of Dermatology, are not concerned about oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, you may want to take a peek at other top reviewed sunscreens.

While the EWG's most recent list does not include any spray sunscreens (due to the organization's concerns about inhalation and the thickness of coating), sprays are popular with parents (despite some concerns over chemical burns ) and Consumer Reports rates several highly, including some inexpensive store brands.

Trader Joe's Spray SPF 50+ sunscreen, Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ sunscreen, and CVS Health Beach Guard Clear Spray SPF 70 sunscreen all get the thumbs up from Consumer Reports, as does the Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55 sunscreen from Target.

[A version of this post was published May 25, 2018. It has been updated.]

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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