When you spend all day outdoors, the sun can be brutal on a baby’s skin. Resist the urge to put baby in that adorable bikini. You should protect her skin from the sun in every way possible. Don’t learn the hard way that babies can burn in just 15 minutes. Here is how to keep your baby safe from the sun at the beach at any age.

Newborn: No sunscreen for the little ones. Rely on the equipment you already have: a car seat with a shade under a beach umbrella. Baby should wear a light long-sleeve shirt and pants or a sunsuit. Make sure little toes are covered somehow.

Sitters: After 6 months, you can use baby sunscreen. A sunscreen stick is easiest to apply. Find one with zinc oxide, a physical barrier which helps block the sun sooner and more effectively. Baby will probably still keep on a hat at this age. If you want to get a tent for the beach or a shelter, buy one with zinc built in to the fabric. Take advantage of your sitter before she will not stay under a tent. Unless you plan to dip your baby in the water (not recommended), dress her in light regular clothing.

Crawlers: Once your baby masters crawling, she will probably not stay under a tent. This is where sun protection becomes more important. Buy a long-sleeve rash guard or full-body bathing suit with UPF, the built-in sun protection. A hat is great, but one with too big of a brim will likely be yanked off since the crawler can’t see up at you. Remember sunscreen on important areas like the small of the back and back of the neck. Since they are on their stomachs, the backs of the legs and arms are more exposed than normal.

Walkers: If your walker is up for a little wading, you can dress her in a long-sleeve rash guard and bikini bottom or diaper. Since walkers are usually all over the place, it’s best to visit the beach at a time when the sun is not at its peak and during low tide. I’ve seen children on the beach as early as 8 a.m. in the summer time and late into the evening. If you are going to be there all day, be very consistent with the sunscreen. Remember the tops of baby’s feet, especially during a beach walk in the stroller or if baby has been in and out of the water.

Make sure to watch your baby closely at the beach or anywhere near water. See you soon on the sand!