6 Foolproof Tips For Putting Sunscreen On Toddlers

6 Foolproof Tips For Putting Sunscreen On Toddlers

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!)


I set an alarm to remind me to reapply. Always apply 20-30 minutes before going out in the sun.

Rebecca Buzianis on

One way I learned to apply sunscreen on my niece was to let her apply small dot amounts on me first and make a game out of it then I continue by applying on to her, who ever makes more dots wins. Then we evenly spread it out and laugh it out as we look like pale white ghost.

Jammy on

I like to apply sunscreen with a makeup brush.

Emily (Ross) Brewer on

Of course another tip that ties in with #1 is communicating clearly that sunscreen is a nonnegotiable and why! At first, my little one pushed back but once she understood it was part of our routine and why, its now a breeze! Set a timer to remind you to reapply as well. Even with sunscreen, don’t forget to take breaks from the sun and hydrate!!

Nicole Jenney on

I always sing a song as I appy it and have them sing with me. This allows me to apply the sunscreen without any complaints and my children love it.

Jennifer on

Use a makeup brush for face application! Spray for the rest of the body

Emily on

Let your child pick where to put sunscreen first. Give them the choice of starting with their face, legs, or arms.

Shira Foster on

I always apply sunscreen before we leave the house so they can go and play as soon as we get to the pool, beach, ect… My toddler also hates the greasiness from sunscreen on her hands so after applying, I put a little baby powder on her hands and it dries it up without having to wipe it off!

Katya on

I always use a makeup brush or sponge to apply to the face! Even my own. Makes it so much easier.

Juliana on

I love the makeup brush application tip!! Makes it easy and fun!

Lauren on

If you have a toddler as crazy as mine, have someone else hold them down so you can successfully apply the sunscreen!

Kati on

Surprisingly my 3.5 year old is usually willing for us to apply sunscreen on her. I always emphasize that it keeps her skin safe from the sun. I do want to try a makeup brush for her face though.

Amber on

I call it magic sunscreen and tell them it gives them more minutes to play outside! My kids like knowing how many minutes they have to do something, so telling them that if we reapply their sunscreen, they can have 20 more minutes works like a charm.

Beth on

I like to sing “tickle, tickle” while applying sunscreen!

Vanessa Kudick on

Enough is never really enough. There is no such thing as too many reapplies.

Brandi on

One way that I’ve found works great when putting sunscreen on my 3 year old’s face is putting the sunscreen on a foundation brush first and using that to apply it to his face. Works great and mess free!

Lisa Clive on

I use a makeup sponge for easy and mess free application.

Jamie on

I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I keep seeing an amazing hack to use a makeup brush or beauty blender to apply sunscreen to a baby’s/toddler’s face, and I definitely think it’s brilliant!

Brittany V on

I like to make my toddler laugh while I apply it. So they think it’s a fun game.

Stephanie on

Make up brush or sponge works great!

Renee on

If my little doesn’t want the sunscreen sprayed directly onto their skin, I spray it in my hand and rub it in like a lotion. I’ve also given them the Hello Bello sunscreen stick to help me apply it.

Kelsi Bailey on

Tell a silly story while applying!
Once upon a time there was an elephant and he stomped all around the swamp (apply sunscreen to face while saying “alllll around the swamp) and continue with the story for arms, legs, etc!

It makes it fun and you can even have them help you with the story!

Heather on

I always apply sunscreen to my kids with a foundation brush, goes on so easy, no fighting!

Ali on

Great article

Christina on

I use a foundation brush to apply sunscreen to my children, ages 1 to 10. This allows an even application and the kids love the feeling of the brush. They paint picture on their bellies with the sunscreen then mom helps spread it out. It’s a lot of fun.

Alara Tucker on

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