Putting sunscreen on a toddler can feel like an epic battle–but it can be won with patience and a little creativity. It’s super important to slather your kiddo in SPF (and plenty of it!) before they head outside to play, so we’re sharing ideas to help get the job done.
Here are 6 tips for putting sunscreen on your toddler:
#1 You Go First.
Kids love to mimic their parents, so start any sunscreen session by applying your own first. Talk to them about what you're doing and why you're doing it. Then let them help you rub it in! Messy? Yes. Effective? Also yes.
#2 Play With It.
Have some fun with your SPF. Use your finger to draw shapes, numbers, letters, or animals on their skin before massaging it all in. Make it a game by having them guess what you’re drawing or writing.
#3 Try A New Tool.
Some kiddos (and adults) hate the feeling of sunscreen on their hands, so use a wide paintbrush, rubber spatula, cotton ball, or makeup applicator to spread it around. Just make sure to rub it in well! For an idea on how much sunscreen to use, check out this article.
#4 Distract Them.
Apply sunscreen while they’re strapped in the carseat and playing with a toy, or apply (and reapply) while they're drinking water or eating snacks. And maybe give them a little screen time if it means they’ll sit still long enough for you to get the job done!
#5 Let Them Be Picky.
Sunscreen comes in several different forms (manual spray, continuous spray, stick, and lotion), so keep all three handy and let your tot choose which one to use each time. Giving them agency *might* just make them a more willing participant!
#6 Keep Multiples On Hand.
For impromptu adventures outside (in any season!), don’t be caught without the sunscreen. Buy a few bottles at a time and keep it EVERYWHERE–the car, diaper bag, stroller, your back pocket!
Do you have a tried and true method for applying and reapplying sunscreen on your toddler? Please share! (And be sure to check out all of the great tips from our community in the comments below!)
Best sunscreen application tip for babies is to give them a make up brush while you apply with another make up brush! It makes them feel involved and you get the job done!
We always make up a silly song, and it works every time! Sing the song while you put on the sunscreen and our daughter is always enjoying the music too much to realize we are slathering her in protection!
I let my kiddo help me spray and rub it in!
We are obsessed with the baby mineral sunscreen-in fact our entire family uses it. For tiny faces, one pump on a damp beauty blender (I use real techniques) covers everything beautifully, with enough to cover the baby scalp. 2 sprays is more than enough for my 20 month olds entire body and 3 for my 7 year old. The consistency is to die for, we are sunburn free, AND it dries down super quick, so they’re able to get back to splashing around without getting any in their eyes. I am a skincare freak and have replaced my own high end mineral facial sunscreen with this because HOLY MOLY it’s amazing.
My favorite tip for sunscreen is to use the sunscreen stick on face, ears and neck. The stick makes for easy application and no fuss with my littles. We like the lotion and spray for all over. Helpful tip is to also apply some on tops of hands.
Using a foundation brush is my go to for face application on my daughter! We make it fun by pretending it’s face paint
I always put some on myself and my daughter wants to do what I do. We make it fun and not a fight.
I put some on my face and his face at the same time. Then I let him help me rub it onto my skin. We go back and forth till it’s done!
Make Up brushes!! This has been a game changer for us during the summer months. Apply your regular sunscreen using a (clean) makeup brush and it for some reason is much more enjoyable than using our fingers/hands! Hope this helps :)
My favorite way to put sunscreen on my toddler is with a makeup brush! I use the stick sunscreen on her face and the mineral lotion everywhere else!
Make up sponge applicator definitely a great hack when apply lotion sunscreen to the face!
I always start with the arms and legs and just make putting on sunscreen silly. I say “we gotta rub it all in” and the kids always laugh. When it comes to the face we get to have more fun here because the face sunscreen is white so the kids can see it. So I put it on them then say oh no you have white on your face we have to get it off. So I show them in the mirror then they always let me rub it in so they can look in the mirror again and see that it’s all gone. Now I never have issues with putting on sunscreen the kids actually look forward to it.
An additional tip for applying sunscreen would be to let them put some on a sibling or yourself so they can see it some good for everyone!
Depending on age/day, it can be tricky putting sunscreen on, spraying is always my favorite because it’s quick and easy, but when I use lotion, our family is very musical, so applying it while making up some random song about sunscreen lotion always seems to work the best for my babies lol
I have very fair skin and burn very easily, so I make sure I always reapply every 2 hours and after getting out of the water.
Let the littles apply sunscreen on you! They always think its fun to put your sunscreen on because you’ve put sunscreen on them!
When my daughter was younger, we used to let her run through the spray like a sprinkler. She was scared of the sunscreen for some reason and by making it a game, it broke her fear.
The best tip I’ve ever been given was to put sunscreen on with a foundation brush! Works wonders on toddlers!
When I was teaching preschool I always would “paint” the kid’s faces with the sunscreen. I would ask what animal they wanted to be and draw features of those animals on their faces with sunscreen (they say alligator I’d draw teeth on their cheeks, if they said cat Id give them whiskers and ears, etc.) then they could rub it in themselves. I avoided so many battles with this one!
For infants and toddlers treat sunscreen application time as a massage! My little loves massages especially for his feet, so focus on those areas a little longer
I love applying sunscreen with a beauty blender. Easy to spread, no greasy fingers, and the kids think it’s fun!
These tips are great! Giving my toddler a choice of where to start always seems to help (“Do you want to do your face first or your arms first?”) A sense of control can make a world of difference with little ones!
We use a beauty blender sponge to apply sunscreen
Using a makeup brush works so well!!
I always let them help! It’s the best for keeping them involved and having them love it! I apply to me first then them
So they can see it’s a good thing :)