Many mothers choose breastfeeding as one of the best ways to keep babies healthy. However, some of the products you regularly use on your skin, such as scented lotion or perfume, can have a negative effect on your baby. Because the baby is in such close proximately to the mother when nursing, skin lotions can irritate the baby’s sensitive system. Nursing moms need to consider the baby's health when applying body lotion.
Allergies and Eczema
A newborn’s skin is especially sensitive. Therefore, they’re more likely to develop allergic rashes or eczema. Mild allergic reactions -- marked by redness, small red bumps or itchiness -- are quite common in infants. In addition, Baby Center reports that about 20 percent of babies have eczema, which is an allergic reaction that shows up as itchy red patches on baby’s cheeks and scalp. The rash can be triggered or aggravated by exposure to fragrances and lotions. Because it is difficult to remove all traces of lotion you applied prior to breastfeeding -- and it’s likely the last thing you’ll think of when a baby is hungry -- her skin will pick up any fragrance or lotion left on yours, exposing her to the risk of allergies and eczema.
Disinterest in Feeding
Scented lotions, perfumes and soaps can also prompt a baby’s disinterest in feeding. According to La Leche League, smelling "different" to your baby is the problem. Babies know the way their moms smell. Applying a different scent can deter your baby from feeding and cause a frustrating nursing strike when a baby suddenly refuses to nurse.
Side Effects on Mom
Scented lotion can also cause inflammation in the mother. La Leche League reports that scented lotions and perfumes can cause red, dry, itchy skin that can cause severe discomfort and make nursing painful. Your body goes through so many hormonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding that you can’t always be sure a particular lotion that hasn’t aggravated your skin in the past won’t irritate you now.
Despite the warnings against scented lotions, you don’t have to give up using body lotion altogether during breastfeeding. Your best bet is to pick a lotion that’s hypoallergenic. The Mayo Clinic recommends using a hypoallergenic lotion on babies. If it’s safe for baby, it’s also safe for you to use. Hypoallergenic lotions are specifically formulated for sensitive skin, contain ingredients with a low potential for allergic reactions, and are typically free of synthetic dyes and fragrances. You don't have to spend a lot on hypoallergenic lotion. For example, Allure awarded Vaseline Intensive Rescue Repairing Moisture lotion a “Best of Beauty” award in 2011. It’s hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and inexpensive.