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While it might seem like the list of things you need to buy for your new baby (or baby-to-be) is miles long, there are really only a handful of necessities that you’ll use regularly — and for some people, one of those is baby lotion.

Just like you lather your skin with body lotion to fight dryness, your baby might experience dry skin, too.

In fact, their brand new skin may be even more prone to dryness, water loss, and potential irritation because it’s thinner than adult skin, notes Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery (MDCS) in New York City.

While it’s often best to avoid potentially disturbing your baby’s skin with unnecessary products, you may find that your baby needs lotion. If that’s the case, our guide or your pediatrician can help you determine which product to use.

Baby skin is generally best suited for a less-is-more approach.

It’s normal for babies’ skin to go through some transitions as they adjust to life outside the womb in the first few days and weeks, so don’t be alarmed if you notice some acne or peeling early on.

Don’t worry too much about these changes, unless your baby seems uncomfortable. If they do, consider talking to your pediatrician.

Infant skin problems, including dry skin, can be caused by unnecessary skin products. Many babies won’t need lotion. In fact, most babies’ skin generally doesn’t need much of anything other than an occasional sponge bath.

If you do decide to apply lotion to your infant, the best time to use it is right after bathtime. Using lotion after a bath could help lock in moisture and support the skin barrier, says Garshick.

However, don’t bathe your baby just to put lotion on. In fact, young babies don’t need a bath every day and when they do get a bath, they don’t need soap. Soap can actually increase the risk of dry skin and skin irritation.

Because baby skin is naturally more delicate, you’ll want to look for baby lotions that are formulated without harsh ingredients that can be rough or irritating to your child’s sensitive skin.

Ingredients to avoid

Simple is best, according to Garshick. That means avoiding products with fragrances, preservatives, parabens and sulfates. Alcohol is another important ingredient to avoid, as it can be especially drying on infant skin.

Lotions vs ointments and creams

When shopping for baby lotion, you might come across some products that are called creams or ointments. “Lotions are the thinnest, lightest type of moisturizer because they contain the highest percentage of water, so they are absorbed quickly,” says Brendan Camp, MD, a dermatologist at MDCS.

“Creams contain more oil than lotions, and as a result feel heavier but are still easy to spread on the skin, and ointments contain the most oil by concentration.” Ointments, Camp explains, are best for targeting areas of extremely dry skin.

When creating this list, we relied heavily on the advice of board certified dermatologists to ensure that we were selecting lotions containing the most beneficial and non-harmful ingredients.

We also considered Environmental Working Group (EWG) ratings, as well as customer reviews.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Best lotion for baby’s dry skin

Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment

  • Price: $$
  • Key ingredients: petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, glycerin

When it comes to treating very dry infant skin, your best bet is a petroleum-based ointment, according to Garshick.

You might be already familiar with Aquaphor’s fragrance- and preservative-free ointment, but this is their baby-focused variety.

“It contains 41 percent petrolatum, which helps to protect the skin, and also contains panthenol and glycerin to help moisturize and nourish the skin,” says Garshick. “It can be used not only for dry skin, but also to protect the skin on the diaper area or for little cuts and scrapes.”

Pros

  • It can be used all over your baby’s body.
  • The ointment doubles as a diaper rash cream.
  • It’s safe for dry, chapped, or irritated skin.

Cons

  • The ointment doesn’t absorb quickly into the skin.
  • Some reviewers warn that the product may arrive cracked.
  • It’s not great for babies with wool allergies, due to the lanolin.

Best baby lotion for eczema

Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream

  • Price: $
  • Key ingredients: colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, oat kernel oil, vitamin B5

Eczema is a fairly common condition in babies and usually shows up as flaky, red patches of skin.

Luckily, there are lotions specifically formulated with ingredients to target and treat eczema.

This lotion from Aveeno contains colloidal oatmeal, which can help calm redness and irritation, and is designed to be particularly sensitive on baby skin.

It also contains vitamin B5, which should be nourishing and relieving on itchy skin.

Pros

  • The cream helps soothe eczema-prone skin.
  • According to the manufacturer, it was designed by dermatologists and is hypoallergenic.
  • It is formulated without parabens, phthalates, and fragrances.

Cons

  • Some parents complain about the scent.
  • Some reviewers report that it takes a while to absorb into the skin.

Best natural baby lotion

California Baby Super Sensitive Cream

  • Price: $$$
  • Key ingredients: aloe vera, calendula

This cream is formulated without common allergens and irritants, like fragrance or harsh chemicals. It’s also entirely plant-based — which may contribute to its relatively high price.

What this cream does contain is glycerin, a naturally-derived substance that often helps relieve dry, itchy skin. Glycerin is also known for helping to heal scratches and scrapes.

Allantoin is another key ingredient that should help smooth skin and keep it moisturized, notes Papri Sarkar, MD, a dermatologist in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pros

  • It is formulated without harsh chemicals that could irritate the skin.
  • It’s both vegan and allergy-tested.
  • The company is family-owned and operated.

Cons

  • It is pricier than other lotions of the same size.
  • Some reviewers have found inconsistencies in texture.

Best baby lotion for sensitive skin

  • Price: $$
  • Ingredients: avocado, jojoba, sunflower oil

This formula from Mustela is headlined by plant-derived ingredients, such as jojoba oil, sunflower oil, vitamins E and F, sweet almond oil, shea butter, avocado perseose and glycerin.

Because it’s also free of potential skin irritants (like parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol) it should leave skin hydrated and smooth without risking redness or rash.

Pros

  • It is non-greasy and absorbs into the skin quickly.
  • It has been a trusted brand since the 1950s.
  • It is hypoallergenic and free of harsh chemicals.

Cons

  • It has a scent some parents find unpleasant.
  • It is not as thick as some parents prefer.

Best smelling baby lotion

Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Lotion

  • Price: $
  • Ingredients: glycerin, coconut oil

If there’s one signature baby lotion scent, it’s most likely Johnson & Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Lotion.

According to the manufacturer, that distinct aroma is clinically proven to help your baby fall asleep due to an infusion of calming chamomile and lavender.

One of its main ingredients is glycerin, which works to nourish dry skin and help it retain moisture. As its name suggests, this may be a good choice to use right after the bath to help ease your baby into their bedtime routine.

Pros

  • It’s from a trusted brand that parents love.
  • It has a soothing scent that may help babies fall asleep.
  • The price is affordable for the product size.

Cons

  • The fragrance may be irritating for some babies.
  • Some parents don’t like the strong scent.

Best unscented baby lotion

Baby Dove Fragrance Free Moisture Hypoallergenic Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • Ingredients: glycerine, petrolatum, tapioca starch

This baby care line from Dove is designed to be gentle, safe, and fragrance-free, so it should be suitable for sensitive infant skin.

According to the company, it contains natural nutrients that may help delicate baby skin absorb and retain moisture throughout the day and night. This lotion should also be suitable for eczema-prone skin.

It’s both dermatologist and pediatrician tested, and free of harsh ingredients like parabens, dyes, and phthalates.

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.
  • It should be safe for use on sensitive skin.
  • It contains no dyes, parabens, phthalates.

Cons

  • Although it’s fragrance-free, some parents report scent.
  • It’s not as thick as similar lotions.

Best organic baby lotion

Earth Mama Sweet Orange Baby Lotion

  • Price: $$
  • Ingredients: aloe leaf juice, olive fruit oil, calendula

Parents love Earth Mama for their ethically-sourced, all-organic ingredients — and that includes the Healthline Parenthood editors!

All of Earth Mama’s products are dermatologically tested and NSF/ANSI 305 certified for their use of organic ingredients. For those who prefer a scent, this sweet orange scented baby lotion, formulated from herbs and oils, is a solid choice.

Pros

  • It’s formulated with all-organic ingredients.
  • It has a light orange scent that many parents find pleasant.
  • It should be for pregnant and nursing moms.

Cons

  • It comes in a very small bottle — less than one ounce.
  • It isn’t meant to be used on red, irritated skin.

Best baby face lotion

SeboCalm Baby Face Cream

  • Price: $$
  • Ingredients: aloe leaf juice, olive fruit oil, calendula

If your little one isn’t already experiencing dry, chapped cheeks and chin, they likely will as soon as teething kicks into high gear or the cold weather comes in.

That’s where a face lotion like this one can come in handy — it’s formulated for your baby’s sensitive face, and may help nourish and repair cracked skin and irritation.

SeboCalm’s face cream is dermatologically tested and free of parabens and other harsh ingredients.

Parents say it goes on nice and smooth without too much grease or oiliness. You can also use it on more than just your baby’s face, but also those arms, legs, and belly!

Pros

  • It’s formulated without harsh ingredients.
  • It’s not tested on animals and is hypoallergenic.
  • It has a light, refreshing scent.

Cons

  • It’s not technically designed for babies, but it should be safe for infants and children.
  • The price is high for how much you get.

Best baby face lotion

  • Price: $$
  • Ingredients: sunflower, olive oil, coconut oil, tamanu oil

Honest Company is a favorite among many, including new parents, for its transparency and use of natural and all-organic ingredients.

All of their products are designed to be baby-friendly, but don’t always carry the “baby” logo. This may be the permission parents need to use it on themselves, too, instead of referring to it as just “the baby’s lotion.”

It’s formulated with organic sunflower and coconut oils, which should nourish your baby’s tender skin. Tamanu oil is added to help protect the moisture barrier.

Pros

  • It’s formulated without harsh ingredients, like petroleum jelly, parabens, and dyes.
  • It’s safe for red, irritated skin — and even doubles as a diaper rash cream.
  • It can be used by the whole family.

Cons

  • It goes on relatively thick and may take a while to absorb.
  • Its best use isn’t as an everyday lotion, but rather for skin irritation.
  • While it has a neutral scent, it doesn’t appeal to all parents.

Best budget baby lotion

Hello Bello Premium Baby Lotion

  • Price: $
  • Ingredients: aloe vera, oat, calendula, green tea extract

Hello Bello was created by actors and husband-and-wife duo Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.

The brand produces a line of reasonably priced baby products designed not to skimp on quality, like this baby lotion.

The baby lotion is formulated with plant-based ingredients like aloe vera, oat, calendula and green tea extracts — which may help nourish, hydrate and soothe fragile, thin infant skin. It’s also fragrance-free and certified organic.

Pros

  • It comes in six scents, including a fragrance-free version.
  • It’s plant-based and formulated without harsh ingredients.
  • It’s certified organic.
  • It’s super affordable.

Cons

  • It’s not as thick as similar lotions.
  • Some parents don’t enjoy the scented varieties.

ProductPriceKey ingredientsProsCons
Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment$$petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, glycerin

– it doesn’t absorb quickly

– some reviewers warn of inconsistent packaging
Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream$colloidal oatmeal, glycerin, oat kernel oil, vitamin B5– it helps relieve eczema-prone skin

– it’s hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin

– it’s formulated without parabens, phthalates, and fragrances
– some parents don’t like the scent

– some parents report that it takes a while to absorb into the skin
California Baby Super Sensitive Cream$$$aloe vera, calendula– it’s formulated without the use of harsh chemicals

– it’s both vegan and allergy-tested
– it’s pricier than other lotions of the same size

– some reviewers found inconsistencies in texture
Mustela Hydra Bebe Body Lotion$$avocado, jojoba, sunflower oil– it’s non-greasy and absorbs into the skin quickly

– the brand has been trusted since the 1950s

– it’s hypoallergenic and free of harsh chemicals
– it has a scent some parents find unpleasant

– it’s not as thick as some parents prefer
Johnson’s Bedtime Baby Lotion$glycerin, coconut oil– it’s from a trusted brand that parents love

– it has a soothing scent that may help baby fall asleep

– the price is affordable for the size
– the fragrance can be irritating for some babies

– some parents don’t like the strong scent
Baby Dove Fragrance Free Moisture Hypoallergenic Lotion$$glycerine, petrolatum, tapioca starch– it’s fragrance-free and hypoallergenic

– it is safe for use on sensitive skin

– it contains no dyes, parabens, phthalates
– although it’s fragrance-free, some parents report a scent

– it’s not as thick as similar lotions
Earth Mama Sweet Orange Lotion$$aloe leaf juice, olive fruit oil, calendula– it’s made with organic ingredients

– it has a light, orange scent that many parents find pleasant

– it’s safe for pregnant and nursing parents
– it comes in a very small bottle

– it isn’t meant to be used on red, irritated skin
SeboCalm Baby Face Cream$$aloe leaf juice, olive fruit oil, calendula– it’s formulated without harsh ingredients

– it’s hypoallergenic

– it has a light, refreshing scent
– it’s not technically designed for babies, but it is safe for infants and children

– it’s expensive for the volume
The Honest Company Organic All-Purpose Balm$$sunflower, olive oil, coconut oil, tamanu oil– it’s formulated without harsh ingredients, like petroleum jelly, parabens, and dyes

– it’s safe for red, irritated skin

– it can be used by the whole family
– it goes on relatively thick and takes a while to absorb

– it’s best for irritations

– it has a neutral smell that doesn’t appeal to all parents
Hello Bello Premium Baby Lotion$aloe vera, oat, calendula, green tea extract– it comes in six scents, including a fragrance-free version

– it’s plant-based and doesn’t have harsh ingredients

– it’s certified organic
– it’s not as thick as similar lotions

– some parents don’t like the scented varieties

Whenever you have any concerns about the health of your baby, especially in regards to their skin, it’s a good idea to call your pediatrician.

In particular, you can look out for signs of redness and irritation, including itchy patches that can occur on all parts of the body — including arms, elbows, hands, chests and knees. The diaper area is quite sensitive, but rashes there are common.

If you ever have cause for concern, don’t hesitate to phone your pediatrician.

Can diet affect my baby’s dry skin?

Yes, just as your diet can affect your skin, your baby’s diet can affect theirs.

Having healthy skin is dependent on an adequate supply of a variety of key nutrients. If you’re nursing, this will come from your breastmilk, and if you’re formula-feeding, this should come from the formula.

Atopic dermatitis, or what is commonly called eczema, can be triggered by diet, which can look like dryness, explains Leslie Solomonian, a naturopathic physician and associate professor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

If you’re concerned about a specific food affecting your baby’s skin, or if you’re generally concerned about their skin despite getting the right nutrition, speak with your pediatrician.

Should I bring my baby to a dermatologist?

If skin issues aren’t going away on their own, it’s probably time to seek a professional opinion.

“It’s always good to have your baby’s skin assessed by a competent healthcare provider if there is a concern that does not resolve on its own,” Solomonian says. “Persistent dryness, redness, itching, or a visible rash should be assessed by your baby’s doctor to determine the next best steps.”

What skin care ingredients should I stay away from?

Baby skin is absorbent, so anything applied to the skin is easily brought into the body, Solomonian says.

For this reason, it’s important to be choosy about what products, especially skin care products, you’re using on your baby.

“Drying soaps should be avoided, as babies generally don’t need soap at all except in the diaper area, and even there, a mild soap is important to avoid irritation or drying,” she says.

She also recommends avoiding products containing parabens.

“Food grade olive or coconut oil are great as moisturizers, and plant-based creams and salves such as cocoa butter, beeswax, and aloe are gentle and safe to put on baby’s skin,” Solomonian adds.

How often should I put lotion on my baby?

So long as a lotion is gentle and made with safe ingredients, you can apply it to your baby’s skin whenever and wherever the skin is dry.

Keep in mind that less is more and most babies don’t need lotion, to begin with. If you decide to use lotion on your baby, you may want to consider applying it after bathtime to maximize their skin’s ability to retain moisture, according to Solomonian.

If your baby’s skin is consistently dry or irritated and the lotion you’re using isn’t easing the discomfort, she recommends scheduling a visit with your pediatrician.

There is certainly no shortage of baby lotions on the market — so taking a deep dive into the ingredients list can help you make the best choice on which is right for your baby. Keeping a close eye on natural and safe ingredients is a great place to start, and, of course, making sure that you and your little one like how it feels and reacts with the skin.