Baby in Bath

What Can Trigger Your Baby’s Sensitive Skin?

Written by Mia.

No one wants their baby to feel uncomfortable. When rashes break out all over their skin, it’s crucial to learn about the many factors that could cause their itchy red bumps. These are some of the most common things that can trigger your infant’s sensitive skin. Check out why they cause rashes and what you can do to make your child more comfortable.


1. Paraben Soaps

The sweet aroma of your baby’s bath soap could irritate their skin. Many soaps have preservatives called parabens. When researchers recently studied the connection between parabens and baby rashes, they found that kids using personal care products with parabens had higher rates of atopic dermatitis and that parabens can irritate your baby’s skin.

Try swapping your baby’s shampoo and soap with alternatives that don’t include parabens on their product labels. Paraben-free and preservative-free products could be the key to making your baby more comfortable, starting with their bath later today.

2. Sweat

Does your child get red bumps across their skin after outdoor activities? Sweat could be the underlying cause. Heat rashes — also known as miliaria — occur in babies because they have immature sweat ducts that get clogged easily.

Keeping your baby in air conditioning, dressing them in loose clothing, and applying cool compresses to affected areas will prevent this from becoming a long-term issue.

3. Non-Cotton Towels

Babies have incredibly soft skin. They need time for the cells to become more robust and get used to how each texture feels. Towels made with non-cotton fabrics might be too rough for your baby right now. Research shows cotton is much gentler on sensitive skin, so try swapping your child’s washcloths and bath towels with cotton alternatives. Muslin fabric, a finely woven cotton fabric known for its lightness, softness, and breathability, can be a great option for babies.

Remember — you can always check a towel’s tag to see what fabric it uses. Many companies make them with a cotton and polyester blend. Leave those aside during your child’s next bath to see if their skin is more sensitive to non-cotton materials.

4. Eczema

Early onset eczema occurs in 12.4% of infants and causes red itchy patches around their bodies. If you’ve tried keeping your child cool, switching their towels, and using gentle, fragrance-free soaps, you may need to try various infant eczema solutions.

A study shows breast milk effectively treats infant eczema, much like hydrocortisone cream. Applying it with a cotton ball might ease your baby’s discomfort. You can learn more about using breast milk for eczema and the other 5 surprise benefits of breast milk in this blog.

If your baby’s itchy, dry skin lasts longer than a day after your breast milk application, take them to their pediatrician. Their primary care provider will prescribe a gentle, medicated ointment to stop their flare-up.

5. Allergies

Parents sometimes think babies must encounter more of the world to develop allergies, but that isn’t necessarily true. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 18.9% of kids between 0–17 had seasonal allergies and 5.8% of children in the same age range had food allergies.

If your child has rashes that flare up after meals or going outside, they could have food or environmental allergies. Meet with their pediatrician for further testing. To learn more about common allergens in babies and how to introduce them, check out this blog here.

6. Tight Diapers

    Diapers that are too small restrict airflow over your baby’s skin. They might become overheated easily and experience heat rashes. Tight diapers also block sweat glands, which may cause a buildup that creates red bumps.

    Check the packaging of any diapers in your home. If they’re for a weight smaller than your baby, it’s likely time to get the next size up. You’ll know you have the perfect size if you can fit two fingers under the diaper’s waistband while your child wears it. Along with diaper sizing, ensuring diapers are clean and dry as often as possible can also help keep baby’s sensitive skin happy.

    Looking for an organic diaper balm to soothe your baby’s bottom? Check out Motherlove’s Organic Diaper Balm, made with clean ingredients and organic herbs.


    Your little one doesn’t have to deal with red rashes all the time. Look for these common triggers for sensitive skin to pinpoint what’s causing your child’s flare-ups. Adjusting their environmental influences and talking with their pediatrician will make your baby much more comfortable.

    Motherlove always suggests using clean ingredients on your baby’s skin and looking for organic and non-GMO options whenever possible. View their baby line and learn more about what Motherlove offers. 

    *This is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please see a healthcare professional if you have concerns about your baby’s sensitive skin.


    National Library of Medicine: Increased Prevalence of Atopic Dermatitis in Children Aged 0–3 Years Highly Exposed to Parabens
    Towel Supercenter: Best Towels for Your Face and Body
    National Library of Medicine: Incidence of Eczema in Early Infancy and the Prenatal Risk Factors — Guangzhou, Guangdong, China, 2018–2019
    MotherLove: 6 Surprise Benefits of Breast Milk
    National Center for Health Statistics: Diagnosed Allergic Conditions in Children Aged 0–17 Years: United States, 2021
    Picture of Mia


    Mia Barnes is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in postpartum health and wellness, women's health, and breastfeeding. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind magazine, where she covers topics related to motherhood and healthy living. 

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