While watching TV today, an adorable commercial for baby lotion came on. A beautiful, flawless baby laid on his back while his mom smiled and doted on him in a soft, pastel color scheme. The picture was perfect, much like the baby’s skin. However, it got me wondering. Is baby lotion actually necessary to keep a baby’s skin flawless and healthy? The advertising was exceptional, and I almost wanted to buy a bottle to keep on hand for my own baby, which I don’t even have yet. Though, I came to my senses just in the nick of time before putting on my snow boots for a trek to Walgreens and wondered how important lotion really is for a newborn. There are certainly some conflicting views on the Internet, but I did enough research to set the record straight.

When it comes to your baby’s skin, you’ll know if he or she needs lotions. Follow those bountiful new mom instincts that you’re usually trying to ignore. You know, those ones telling you to turn back when your baby is screaming as you walk away at daycare, or the ones waking you in the middle of the night to see if your baby is still breathing. Your baby’s skin is really the only indication you’ll have about whether or not you should be buying baby lotion. Of course, certain studies say differently, but those studies are mainly the ones sponsored by big brand lotion companies. The most important thing you can do is keep your baby’s skin clean so that irritants don’t stick around for too long. As far as lotion goes, too much can actually cause baby’s skin to dry out. This works great for the lotion companies. The more you buy, the more you’ll need. Don’t fall into the vicious cycle. Only use baby lotion if your baby really seems to need it, or if your child’s pediatrician specifically recommends it. Most baby soaps and shampoos are specifically designed to be gentle and moisturizing, so baby lotion is overkill.

Like many of the cosmetic products on the shelves today, baby lotion is very marketable but usually unnecessary. If your baby actually has a dry skin condition, his or her pediatrician will probably prescribe something anyway. Baby lotions are a waste of your money, and they might cause problems rather than solve them. Avoid falling into the cute advertising trap.

Source: Lorena Telofski et al: The Infant Skin Barrier: Can We Preserve, Protect, and Enhance the Barrier? Dermatology Research and Practice Volume 2012