When Can You Put Lotion On A Newborn? (Tips For Applying Lotion & When To See The Doctor)

When a newborn baby comes into the world, they’re born with a white substance (vernix) all over their bodies which keeps their skin soft and smooth. This substance doesn’t last forever, though, and after a week, you might see a change in your newborn’s skin, such as dryness. Applying a gentle baby lotion is not harmful to your baby but only use it if you see some dryness. Other tips preventing overall dryness include avoiding long hot water baths, getting a humidifier, and oil massages. You can ask your pediatrician for lotion recommendations. If you see your newborn’s skin peeling or becoming flaky, immediately refer to your pediatrician. 

Your newborn finally arrived into the world, and you’re eager to experience so many firsts with them together with your family and partner. One such thing is their first bath ever at your home, but as soon as you do, you wonder to yourself if you should start applying lotion right away, even though their sensitive skin feels smooth as silk. 

Caring for a newborn must be giving you all the joy right now, but at the same time, you wonder how to do things right for them. Applying lotion to babies can prevent dryness and contact rashes. How soon should you start this process? 

Are there any tips to prevent your newborn’s skin from excessive dryness? Let’s find out. 

Secret behind newborn’s soft skin

Dad is holding his newborn baby's fingers at the hospital, the day after birth.

Before your newborn arrives in this world, you’ve prepared for every possible scenario and stalked up on all the things you could need when they’re born. One such thing is baby products for your newborn, such as lotion. 

You think you would be using all the items on your newborn’s first bath, such as baby soap, shampoo, and lotion. But what you don’t realize is how your baby’s skin is already protected with a natural moisturizer known as vernix caseosa when they’re born. Also, how sensitive they are with the umbilical cord stump still intact.

Vernix caseosa is a protective layer on your baby’s skin and appears as a white cheese-like fluid on their body. Vernix has many benefits for your baby apart from keeping their skin soft and supple for the first week after birth.

Some of the other advantages include:

  • Antimicrobial properties 
  • It helps in lubricating the baby out of the birth canal
  • Moisturizing their skin

This white fluid substance makes your baby’s skin smoother and softer at birth and keeps it that way after birth. It’s like a natural moisturizer that keeps them protected from dryness and cracking of the skin. 

White substance keeps newborn’s skin soft

Many parents don’t know, but finding the right time to put lotion on their newborn baby is connected to their first bath at the hospital and removal of vernix. 

Now that you know that vernix is beneficial to your baby’s skin, you should know how an early remover of this white substance can cause early dryness to appear. 

This substance keeps your newborn’s skin smooth and soft for a week or two. But this only stays that way if you delay their first bath at the hospital after birth. You need to let your doctor and nurse know that you don’t wish to bathe your baby after birth.

It’s beneficial for the baby and not dirty. Request the nurse to remove the traces of blood and amniotic fluid with a cloth. Even if you delay the first bath for 24 to 48 hours, the vernix caseosa will have its benefits. 

For the next two days after the birth, gently rub this substance into their skin so it’s absorbed, making your newborn’s skin soft. 

But if the baby is born dirty, that means covered in their stool which sometimes happens, and then it’s vital for the newborn to bath as soon as possible, so they don’t end up consuming it. 

When to apply lotion on newborn

While newborn babies have softer and smoother skin when they’re born, it doesn’t stay like that forever. The white substance slowly starts to go away, and then just like any other human being, your newborn will also be prone to getting dry skin. 

So, right after a week from their birth, you’ll start noticing how their skin has started to become dry. You might want to start applying lotion then. Just as you finish bathing and patting your baby dry, you should apply the cream for better absorption in the skin.

Don’t forget to pat dry in the folds of the skin because your newborn might develop a rash if left wet.

Tips when applying lotion on newborn

Some tips can prove to be quite helpful when you decide to start applying lotion to your newborn. These tips, if remembered, can prevent different kinds of rashes from developing on your newborn’s skin.

  • When choosing a lotion for your baby, don’t just apply any lotion. Choose a lotion specifically made for babies as it consists of soothing ingredients keeping in mind the delicate skin of newborns.
  • Just because a lotion smells nice doesn’t mean you should apply it to your newborn’s skin. Avoid using any scented lotions and stick to baby lotion.
  • Clean your hands thoroughly before applying lotion.
  • Make sure you have patted dry your newborn from everywhere. You might want to get in the folds to avoid any wet spots.
  • Make sure your nails are trimmed as they can easily scratch your newborn’s delicate skin.
  • You don’t have to use different skincare products on your newborn, and going overboard can harm your baby’s delicate skin. Don’t use baby powder on them yet, and wait till they turn a couple of months old to start using other baby skin care products.
  • Make sure you’ve washed the clothes before your newborn wears them. Many people prefer using old clothes of other older children in their family to avoid skin irritation or allergies.

How to prevent your newborn’s skin from becoming dry?

You would be doing all the things that you can to keep your baby’s skin moisturized, but a bonus is knowing how you can reduce the amount of dryness in the first place.

Several tips can make sure your little munchkin’s skin never becomes so dry that you need to apply lots of lotion on their skin daily.

Hot water

One mistake lots of parents make is bathing their newborns in hot water. Just because they’re tiny doesn’t mean they will feel colder. Lukewarm water is the best temperature of water to bathe your baby. 

You don’t even have to bathe them every day during this delicate time. Since their umbilical cord stump is still attached, you should at maximum think of bathing three times a week. The best option would be to sponge them daily with warm water until the stump has dried and fallen off and their navel has started to heal.

If their skin becomes red after a bath, the water is too for them. So, make sure you’re using warm water and not hot water. Also, avoid long baths, and it can strip off natural oils of your baby’s skin, making it drier than usual.

Cold climate

During the colder months, make sure to cover up your newborn if going out with them. If you don’t then, it can impact their delicate skin. The brutal cold wind can absorb moisture from the skin, making it dry in the process.

So, apply lotion and ensure it’s absorbed in the skin. Make sure you carry a bottle of lotion if, for some reason, you have to go outside too. But avoid going out up until your baby is a month old. Especially in the winter, carry a bottle of lotion in the diaper bag because you never know when you might need it.


When at home, make sure not to make it too hot in your baby’s room.

Just try to keep an average temperature. You can get a humidifier for your baby in the room, which can help prevent skin from drying out and hold the room’s moisture intact. 

During winters, the dry air absorbs all the moisture making the skin dry. A humidifier will keep the moisture intact and make it easier for your newborn to breathe. 

There’re other home treatments you can do to avoid dry skin of your newborn if you don’t want to use a lotion on their skin:

  • Giving an oatmeal bath reduces inflammation and itching.
  • You can even massage them gently with olive oil, or almond oil can keep the moisture intact for a longer duration than lotion and is good for the skin.
  • Make sure the newborn is hydrated enough by frequent breastfeeding.
  • Choosing appropriate soft clothing. 
  • Keep your newborn as comfortable as possible.
  • Giving breast milk baths.

When to see the doctor

It’s easier to distinguish dry skin from other skin conditions. When you apply lotion for dry skin, notice that the skin becomes soft and supple. If your newborn’s skin still doesn’t become soft after taking care of it every day and doing everything you can to get rid of dry skin, then it’s time to visit the doctor.

If the skin is dry, peeling, or itchy with redness, it could be eczema. Eczema can be bad for your newborn and make things worse for them if not treated at the right time. Visit your pediatrician and don’t start treatment by yourself under such circumstances.


Should I put lotion on my newborn every day?

You can put gentle baby lotion on your newborn every day if that’s what their skin needs. But make sure you get a lotion specifically made for babies and not just any random lotion, and any other lotion might irritate their sensitive skin.

Usually, newborns don’t need other stuff to hydrate them yet. Remember to do other things to prevent your newborn’s skin from drying out. Keeping a humidifier is one great example in your baby’s room. Don’t bathe your baby for a long time, as it can cause the skin to get dry faster. 

Do you put baby oil before lotion?

You should massage the lotion first on your baby, then start with oil as a layer, and it will lock in the moisture and provide double the protection against dryness. Oiling is something you can even adopt as a weekly routine with your baby. Once in a week, you can start oiling your baby as a ritual and help strengthen their muscles and bones. 

Can I put lotion on my newborn baby’s face?

You can put lotion on your newborn baby’s face, but only if you see it’s dry. Usually, you don’t need to apply anything as their skin is still soft. But if you see some dry skin, apply a little lotion and gently massage in circular motions on the skin. 

Remember to buy only baby lotion and not use any lotion on your newborn’s face. Since their skin is so delicate, any random lotion can cause irritation or allergies. 

Does breastmilk help dry skin?

Breast milk is said to help soothe the dryness of your baby’s skin. If there are specific areas, you can soak a cotton ball in breast milk and apply it to the affected area. Parents also bathe their baby in breast milk if they have a severe skin condition such as rashes, eczema, an itch of bug bites, etc.

It’s not a medical treatment, but some parents see a difference in their baby’s skin condition as breast milk soothes them. If you’re wondering about this sort of treatment, then talk with your pediatrician to clear any doubts. Otherwise, follow their form of treatment.

How often should I bathe my newborn?

A newborn is in a very delicate condition for the first two weeks of their life. During this time, the umbilical cord stump is still attached and will fall off on its own in the first two weeks. Newborns shouldn’t bathe every day at this point.

Sponging your newborn is the best thing you can do for them, and at max thrice a week of bathing should be considered. And if your newborn is born during winters, then extra care needs to be done so they don’t catch a cold while you think of bathing them. 

To summarize

When born, your newborn is very delicate but doesn’t have to deal with issues like dryness. Every baby is born with a white substance glued to their body known as vernix which keeps their skin smooth and soft. This substance is so beneficial for the babies that many mothers opt not to bathe their babies 24 to 48 hours after birth.

As good as vernix is for the baby’s skin, it doesn’t last forever, and so you need to be prepared how to deal with their dry skin after a week of their arrival in this world. Applying lotion is not harmful to the newborn as long as it’s a baby lotion that comes free from toxic chemicals and perfume. 

You can gently massage lotion on their body after bathing them. But there’re other tips which you should remember, so their skin doesn’t get so dry in the first place, especially for a baby born in winters. For a lotion, you can also ask your pediatrician for recommendations.

If your newborn still has dry skin issues and peeling and redness, it’s best to visit your pediatrician because it could be a serious skin issue. 

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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