mom and baby

Newborn skin is special

You have to be cautious when you’re caring for a newborn’s skin, because babies’ skin tend to be delicate, thin, and prone to dryness. Adult skin care products often include perfumes, soap and alcohol; these ingredients can irritate the baby’s skin or cause an allergic reaction.

When babies are first born, they have wrinkly skin and a thick, white, cheese-like layer called vernix, which peels off on its own during the first week. If your baby was born after your due date, this process may have happened in the womb.

In the early months, while your baby’s immune system is developing, look for products with labels that say they’re mild and formulated for babies. Most infants will be safe with natural baby skin care products, but if your family members have allergies or asthma, your newborn may also be sensitive to botanicals and herbs.

Keep in mind that the term ‘hypoallergenic’ means that the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction; it doesn’t necessarily mean the product will be gentler on the skin.

Keep an eye out for these ingredients:
  • Fragrance: If your baby has healthy skin, lightly fragranced baby products are unlikely to upset their skin. Avoid all perfumed products – including those with essential oils and plant extracts – if your baby has dry skin or eczema.

  • Phthalates and parabens can be harmful for babies, so look for products that are phthalate-free and paraben-free.

  • Alcohol can be very drying and it may irritate your baby’s skin, so choose products without ethanol or ethyl alcohol. A baby with especially sensitive skin may have a reaction to cetostearyl alcohol.

  • Mineral oils: There are concerns that mineral oils may inhibit the skin’s ability to ‘breathe’.

  • Sulfates (also known as sulphates) can irritate the skin

  • Avoid using antibacterial or antimicrobial products on your baby’s skin.


In the first year of your baby’s life, you’ll only need to bathe them twice a week. Otherwise, you might remove the natural oils that protect your baby’s skin, leaving the skin dry. Bathing the baby too frequently may also aggravate eczema.

Between baths, clean the baby with sponge baths around the diaper area, mouth, and in any skin folds such as the armpits, thighs, and chin. Use plain water or a soap-free liquid cleanser that is free of dyes and fragrances.


Baby lotion helps to moisturise newborn skin, but you only need to use a small amount. Use a fragrance-free emollient cream or ointment immediately after the baby’s bath. Avoid using baby oil as a moisturiser for newborn skin.

Caring for diapered skin:

Under the diaper, your baby’s skin may be wet, prone to a lot of rubbing-related friction and exposed to faeces; all of these factors can lead to irritated skin. Make sure you change your baby’s diaper often, and clean the area gently with a damp washcloth or alcohol-free, fragrance-free disposable wipes. Apply a special barrier cream or bottom butter to stop your baby’s skin getting too wet and raw.


Babies benefit from touch, and baby massage can be a lovely way to spend one-on-one time. Use a little baby oil or lotion when you massage your baby.

Consider doing a patch test when you’re using a new product

To do a patch test, apply some of the product to a small area on your baby’s arm or leg. Wait 24 hours to see whether your baby’s skin turns red, itchy, sore or flaky. If you notice any of these reactions, stop using the product.

palmer's baby kicking in belly
About Palmer’s

Founded more than 175 years ago as one of America’s first skin care companies, E.T. Browne Drug Co., Inc. is a leader in treatment-oriented beauty products with its trusted Palmer’s® brand. Today, there’s a cocoa butter product for every skincare need – face, body, stretch marks, mother-baby, hair care and bath.  

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