What Skincare Products Does Your Newborn Really Need?

Your baby’s new and sensitive skin is their largest organ. With a seemingly limitless selection of infant skincare products, we must consider how we care for our newborn’s body. Most importantly, how do we make wise decisions about the products we use to safely care for our newborn’s skin?

Thankfully, newborn skin care routines can be simple and uncomplicated.

Many baby skincare products are dangerous


Often, skincare products are filled with fragrances, perfumes, plastics, preservatives, and stabilizers that are hazardous to our health. Unfortunately, many of these compounds exist in skincare products for newborns and small children. What are the dangers?

PhthalatesThese are an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) found in stabilizers and fragrances that can be absorbed through the skin, ingested, or inhaled. It disrupts sex, thyroid, and steroid hormonal processes.
TriclosanThis is an EDC antimicrobial agent found in soaps, body washes, toothpaste, toys, and kitchenware that is absorbed or ingested. It disrupts sex and thyroid hormonal processes.
ParabensThis is an absorbable EDC preservative in many cosmetic and personal care products, linked to childhood obesity and possibly breast cancer. More studies are needed regarding the impacts of paraben exposure.

You may also want to consider limiting exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can cross the placenta or affect maternal body chemistry, exposing your developing baby to the effects of hazardous chemicals.

How to choose safe skincare products for babies

Choosing baby skincare products can feel like a risky business. So, what clues do you look for to ensure you select the appropriate and safest product for your newborn? Look for products that are:

  • Free of phthalates and parabens. Products are often labeled when they do not contain these chemicals.
  • Free of fragrances, perfumes, and dyes. Other than phthalate exposure, fragrances, and dyes can be irritating to newborn skin, especially to any existing rashes.
  • Free of antimicrobial soaps or chemicals.

Baby skin care – expert product recommendations:

It may come as a relief that newborns do not need many skincare products. Here we have summarized which baby skincare products should be present in your nursery and which ones are not recommended by the medical experts:


Baby body wash

It is an essential skincare item. Often, you can use baby body wash products on the entire body, including hair. Remember, babies only need to be gently bathed two to three times a week. Use mild, fragrance-free soap on skin folds and the diaper area. Be sure to rinse and dry your baby thoroughly.

Expert recommendation: Must-have

Skin barrier cream or ointment

An important tool to protect the skin of a baby’s diaper area from the acidic nature of urine and stool. Most creams contain zinc oxide, an effective barrier against moisture. Look at your labels. Some barrier creams and ointments contain fragrances or preservatives that irritate diaper rash.

Expert recommendation: Must-have

Baby laundry detergent

Washing baby clothes will seem unending. There are many well marketed baby laundry detergents, but, at a minimum, be sure to pick a detergent free of fragrances and dyes, often labeled “free & clear.”

Expert recommendation: Must-have

Baby lotion or cream


The infant’s skin is naturally well moisturized, especially during the first few weeks of life. Lotion or cream is a desirable skincare item when the need arises to provide extra moisture to your baby’s skin. Be sure to choose a product free of fragrance, parabens, and phthalates.

Expert recommendation: Neutral

Baby powder

Some baby powders contain talc, which has been found to contain cancer-causing asbestos. Talc-containing baby powders can be hazardous for the baby and the caregiver applying the powder. Look for a baby powder that is corn-starch based, and be careful during application to limit inhalation. Most pediatricians recommend using other alternatives for keeping the baby dry and comfortable, especially in the diaper area.

Expert recommendation: Consider an alternative

Baby oil

The skin does not readily absorb baby oil and, therefore, is not ideal. Additionally, research has shown that oil can be harmful to a baby’s skin and lungs. The petroleum-based oil can be dangerous if swallowed or inhaled. However, coconut oil or a safe baby lotion is an excellent addition to a newborn massage to help your hands run smoothly over your baby’s skin. Essential oils, especially when directly applied to the skin, should be used with caution around infants under 12 months old.

Expert recommendation: Consider an alternative

Sun and sunscreen safety tips

Sunscreen is incredibly protective for skin from harm caused by the sun’s potentially dangerous rays. However, sunscreen is not recommended for infants under six months of age. Instead, follow these recommendations for your newborn outside:

  • Shade. Keep baby in the shade whenever possible.
  • Clothing. Dress the baby in clothing that covers all limbs.
  • Hat. Use a hat that covers your baby’s face, neck, and ears.
  • Too hot. Watch your baby for signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. These include redness, fussiness, and crying.
  • Sunburn. If you notice sunburn, get out of the sun immediately and apply cool compresses to the sunburned area.

Once your baby is over six months, look for a lotion – not aerosol sunscreen – with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium oxide. These compounds are preferable to other sun-protecting chemicals commonly found in sunscreen.

Newborns may feel like they come with mounds of accessories. A baby’s naturally sensitive and well-moisturized outer layers simplify their skincare routine. Beyond ensuring safe product choice, caring for your baby’s largest organ has a “less is more” approach.

Key takeaways:


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