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Is it safe to use skin lotion on infants?
Q: Is it safe to put baby lotion on infants? I use lotion on my 7-year-old; I also have a 6-month-old, and thought I remembered reading something about lotion not allowing babies to perspire and making them hold in extra heat. Is this true?
Hannah Asheville
A: Hannah, thanks for your question about putting skin lotion on babies.

It’s generally okay to put mild skin lotion on children as long as you avoid skin lotion with perfume, which could cause a rash on your infant’s sensitive skin. But, as you say, it’s best not to slather on a lot of lotion that could block your baby’s skin pores and interfere with her perspiration to regulate her body temperature, especially in the summer.

Babies have natural oils that lubricate their skin. Putting skin lotion on babies is usually not necessary, except if your baby has unusually dry skin or eczema. To allow your baby’s natural skin oils to keep her skin soft, don’t bathe your baby too much (every two-three days is enough), use only mild soap that doesn’t have perfumes or anti-perspirants, and don’t scrub your baby’s skin too hard.

Also, remember that when you take your baby outdoors, you need to protect her sensitive skin from the sun. Skin lotion or baby oil is not sunscreen protection. Use a sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection and SPF of 15 or higher, dress her in a hat and light clothes, avoid taking her out when the sun is hottest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician