How to Choose the Best Lotion for Your Baby

    How to Choose the Best Lotion for Your Baby

    Many advertisements promote lotion for babies to help lock in moisture. But do infants really need lotion to have soft, smooth skin? Here’s what you need to know about using a lotion for baby.

    Do You Need Lotion for Baby?

    Before proceeding with the criteria for choosing the best lotion for baby, it’s important to ascertain first if your little one needs lotion at all. According to experts, it depends on their age and needs.

    For instance, a lotion – or any skincare product – is not recommended for the first few weeks of the baby’s life. This is because newborn skin has yet to develop its natural protective barriers and exposure to substances and chemicals before their 4th week can trigger allergic reactions or eczema. Premature babies may need extra time, so avoid skincare products before their 8th week.

    lotion for baby

    The no-lotion-rule still applies even when you see signs of dryness, such as cracks or splits on skin. The only time you’ll lather any product on your newborn baby’s skin is when the doctor recommends it.

    When Can Babies Start Using Lotion?

    At this point, we understand that we shouldn’t use any skincare product before a baby’s 4th week, but when exactly can they start using lotions?

    It’s unclear when lotions are required for your baby’s skincare routine, but chances are, they might need it (or another moisturizer) if they often experience dry skin, and home remedies are not enough to manage the dryness.

    In babies, the most common causes of skin dryness are:

    • Bathing too often, especially with the use of harsh soap. Doing this can strip the skin’s natural moisture. According to experts, bathing your baby with a soap-free cleanser thrice a week might be enough.
    • Hot or cold weather with dry air can also trigger dryness.

    If bathing less often causes your baby discomfort (such as during the summer season), or when dry skin persists, the doctor may recommend a lotion or moisturizer.

    The Best Lotion for Baby: Less Is More

    Should your baby need lotion, always remember that less is more. This means that the fewer substances there are, the better. Consider the following tips:

    • Choose a lotion with no dye, perfume, or alcohol. These substances can irritate your baby’s young skin.
    • Make sure that the lotion is hypoallergenic. However, please keep in mind that not all hypoallergenic lotions are gentle; the label only means that it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
    • As much as possible, avoid chemicals like parabens and phthalates; they could potentially harm your baby.

    What About Sunscreen?

    Besides their moisturizing effects, parents also want to use a lotion for baby to protect them from the harmful effects of the sun. But, should babies use sunscreen?

    According to the US FDA, sunscreens are not recommended until the baby is 6 months old. They explained that while children and adults can tolerate the substances in sunscreen, infants may experience some side-effects as their skin is less mature.

    Instead of using sunscreen lotion for your baby, experts recommend keeping them under the shade. If there’s no natural shade, use wide-brimmed hats or umbrellas. Other sun protection tips include:

    • Making them wear breathable clothes that cover their sensitive skin. Still, avoid over-bundling as your baby might overheat.
    • Watching them carefully to ensure that they’re not getting dehydrated or sunburned.
    • Applying a cold compress to the affected, sunburned area.
    • Giving your baby enough breastmilk and formula milk even if you’re out in the sun for only a few minutes.

    And finally, before deciding on a lotion for your baby, consult a pediatrician first.

    Lotion for Baby Is Not the Only Option

    Once you talk to the pediatrician about your baby’s skincare, you’ll find that lotions are not the only option in preserving skin moisture. Depending on your baby’s needs, the doctor may also recommend creams, ointments, or petroleum jelly.

    Key Takeaways

    It’s still not clear when a lotion for baby is required, but a full-term infant younger than 4 weeks old shouldn’t use any skincare product since their skin is too sensitive. If your baby experiences a skin condition, talk to the pediatrician first before using any lotion or cream.

    Learn more about Baby Care here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    Advice on skincare for newborn babies, https://www.royalberkshire.nhs.uk/patient-information-leaflets/Maternity/Maternity—skincare-for-newborn-babies.htm, Accessed March 12, 2021

    The Infant Skin Barrier: Can We Preserve, Protect, and Enhance the Barrier? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439947/, Accessed March 12, 2021

    Dry skin, https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/dry-skin, Accessed March 12, 2021

    Infant and toddler health, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044438, Accessed March 12, 2021

    Newborn Skin 101, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/newborn-skin-101, Accessed March 12, 2021

    When is it OK for a baby to wear sunscreen? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-sunscreen/faq-20058159, Accessed March 12, 2021

    Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/should-you-put-sunscreen-infants-not-usually, Accessed March 12, 2021

    Picture of the Authorbadge
    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Nov 10, 2021
    Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS