by | Mar 22, 2021 | Bath, Z

Last Updated: Oct 18, 2021 @ 1:26 pm.

What is the best sunscreen for toddlers? First, we interviewed pediatricians and dermatologists to get the latest advice on sunscreens. Then we purchased sunscreen and tried it out on actual toddlers. We also asked the readers of our parenting books what worked best for them. What was easiest to put on? Most effective? Budget-friendly? Here are our recommendations!

FYI: We are Baby Bargains, the #1 online resource for honest and independent baby gear reviews. We don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Since 1994, Baby Bargains is 100% reader-supported.


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Best Lotion Sunscreen

Plant-derived organic ingredients
We liked this affordable sunscreen that worked well and has no fragrances or nanoparticles. Water resistant to 80 minutes. Critics note it is greasy and difficult to rub in.
$19.00 ($1.58 / Fl Oz)

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Best Lotion Sunscreen: Babyganics Sunscreen Lotion

Mineral based sunscreen can be pricey, we know! Good news: we found Babyganics sunscreen to be both effective AND easy on the wallet. In some cases, this sunscreen was 45% to 65% less per ounce than others we tested. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Water resistant to 80 minutes. 

• UVA/UVB protection.

• Plant-derived organic ingredients. 

• No PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances or nanoparticles.

• No animal testing.

• Tear free. Doesn’t sting when it gets in eyes.

What Needs Work

• Thick and greasy. Yep, this sunscreen was thicker/greasier than others we tested—and took some effort to rub in.

• Chalky residue on skin.

• Contains octisalate. Some parents avoid sunscreens with octisalate because of allergy concerns. While it is generally considered safe, some countries (notably Japan) limit its use in cosmetics.

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Best Reef-Friendly

Easiest to apply, smooth texture
This smooth sunscreen won over our testers with its effectiveness: 80 minutes water resistant and broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. No reef-damaging chemicals (safe for use in Hawaii).
$16.40 ($2.73 / Fl Oz)

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Best Reef-Friendly: Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen

After trying out several different baby sunscreens with actual parents and babies, we pick Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen as the best reef-friendly sunscreen.

This smooth sunscreen won over our testers with its effectiveness: 80 minutes water resistant and broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Less irritation of the skin compared to others we tested.

• Smooth texture.

• UVA/UVB broad spectrum.

• Made in USA.

• No nasty stuff. No avobenzone, oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dionxane and UV chemical absorbers.

• No nanoparticles.

• No reef-damaging chemicals. Hawaii has banned sunscreen that has oxybenzone and octinoxate. This sunscreen doesn’t have those chemicals.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Leaves a white film on skin.

• A bit greasy.

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Best Spray Sunscreen

Can be applied to wet skin
Our top pick for spray sunscreen—very effective and hypoallergenic. Broad spectrum protection (UVA/UVB). Caveats: strong scent and COLD when applied!
$39.01 ($19.50 / Count)

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Best Spray Sunscreen: Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray

Loved this spray sunscreen, which is SPF 70+ and can be applied to wet skin. Lasts about 80 minutes. Our testers said this spray was the most effective among those we tried out.

What We Liked

• Effective. 

• UVA/UVB protection.

• Hypoallergenic.

• PABA free. 

• Water resistant.

What Needs Work

• Strong scent. Most folks like it, but some don’t.

• Not tear-free. We wouldn’t use it on a forehead, as it can run into the eyes.

• COLD! When applied, this spray is very cold . . . and that makes for unhappy toddlers.

• Must be reapplied frequently but that is true for most toddler sunscreens!

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby and toddler essentials (like sunscreen) since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert reviews of baby care products.

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