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!)


110 comments


We like to use a makeup brush to apply sunscreen to the face. Works for all ages 🙂

Charlene on

Lean in to their desire for independence – our toddler loves using the face stick in front of a mirror

Katie on

I always make a game out of it with my son saying I’m going to beat him to it. And he always grabs it and puts it on no problem. I find making a game of things plays in our favor a lot when it comes to hygiene and safety.

Destiny Schulte on

Put it on while they’re asleep 😂🤣
Make up brush for easy and fun application!

AmandaLynn Morris on

Luckily she loves the color of the bottle so she gets to hold it if I can put the sun screen on her.

Jordin G. on

Apply sunscreen before you hit the beach! It’s impossible to rub it in after they have sand all over them. I’ve found the Hello Bello face stick works so well on my toddler because it applies in seconds rather than having to slather it on while he wiggles around.

Sydney Spurrier on

We make it a game and see how fast (but well) we can do it. And we will reapply while they are snacking so it’s a good time out of the water!

Cristina on

Use a foundation brush to apply face sunscreen. It’s a game changer.

Alyssa Falbo on

Put the sunscreen on before you leave if you can so nobody wonders off towards the water before you’re ready

Julia on

Spray sunscreen is the best!!! Just spray and sometimes a little rubbing but you don’t have to hold a toddler down as they are trying to run away!

Tasha on

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