Newborn Skin Peeling: What to Know

Newborn Skin Peeling: What to Know

That delicate skin you and your little one spent the last (approximately) nine months crafting is getting introduced to the outside world.

It’s new. It’s fresh.

And it’s trying to come off?!

Welcome to the world of newborn skin peeling.

So, is it normal for newborn skin to peel?

In many cases, yes.

Newborn skin peeling is usually a typical response to pregnancy and delivery.

But there are cases where flaking skin can signal that something else is up.

We’ll take you through the details.

In this article: 📝

  • Why is my newborn skin peeling?
  • How long does it take for a newborn skin to stop peeling?
  • What can I put on my newborn’s peeling skin?

Why is my newborn skin peeling?

Newborn babies shed the top layer of their skin in their first weeks of life.

The amount of flaking has to do with a skin coating called vernix caseous that reaches its peak glory in the third trimester.

This covering helps protect and moisturize your baby’s skin and keep it from peeling.

The thicker the vernix, the less peeling your baby might have.

When your baby is born, they may still be sporting a thin layer of vernix caseous, either over their whole bodies or only in certain places.

Break vernix caseous down to its Latin core and:

  • Vernix = to varnish and
  • Caseous = cheese-like.

So yep, your baby may look as though they have been varnished with a cheese-like substance.

And thank goodness for this.

That’s because the vernix caseous does a lot of work, both in the womb and outside.

Made up of a combination of water, proteins, and fatty acids, this protective layer has been keeping their skin soft and helping to protect them from infection.

If you had a vaginal birth, it also made their journey a little smoother.

And while it may be tempting to wash the vernix caseous off as soon as possible, there is a reason to wait.

This layer helps their fresh skin adapt to the outside world and maintain its moisture.

It may also have antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

That’s why experts recommend waiting before bathing your babe.

This miracle cheese may be doing wonders for them.

Skin peeling is more common in babies born past their due date because they’ve lost more of their vernix coating while waiting for labor to start.

They may also have less of a coating of those fine hairs called lanugo.

As a result, they have less protection from the amniotic fluid that’s been surrounding them, and their skin might be more likely to peel.

How long does it take for a newborn skin to stop peeling?

The top layer of skin may shed in the first few weeks.

But that delicate baby skin underneath is still getting used to the world and may continue to peel a little longer than that.

If your baby’s skin peeling concerns you, check in with your doctor.

It could be a sign of a health condition.

Some possibilities are:


Baby eczema can cause patches of your little one’s skin to look red and crusty.

It can also be itchy for them.

There are two main types — atopic dermatitis, an inherited skin condition, and contact dermatitis, which happens if they come in contact with something that irritates their skin.


Ichthyosis is a group of chronic conditions that causes the skin to be dry, itchy, and scaly.

It’s usually inherited from one or both parents, but it can also be acquired later in life due to other illnesses or using particular medications.


Psoriasis is not typical in babies, but it does happen.

It looks like raised red patches of skin that are either burny (feeling hot to the touch), itchy, or painful.

If you think your baby has any of these conditions, check in with your pediatrician so they can advise you on what to do next.

What can I put on my newborn’s peeling skin?

Once the vernix has come off, applying a hypoallergenic moisturizer will help keep their skin soft and moisturized.

And here are some other tips for caring for this delicate new organ of theirs:

1. Protect them from the elements

That means bundling them up if it’s cold outside.

If you’re in sunnier climes, keep them in the shade and dress them in thin protective layers.

The American Academy of Dermatologists says to go light on the sunscreen in their first 6 months of life.

If you do need to apply it, opt for a thin layer of a baby-friendly sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30.

2. Keep baths quick

Not great news for that rubber duck who wants some company, but sitting too long in the tub can dry out that fragile skin.

And you only have to bathe them two to three times a week in their first few months.

It’s why many mamas prefer to sponge bathe their babies instead.

3. Hydrate!

Healthy skin starts from the inside out.

No need to introduce water, though.

Until they’re six months old, all they need is breastmilk and/or formula.

4. Avoid irritants

Although the scent of sweet-smelling soaps is appealing, your baby’s skin may think otherwise.

While they’re still so fresh, steer clear of harsh fragrances and chemicals.

Babies go through all sorts of changes in those first few weeks of life.

And although it can be overwhelming at times, it’s also remarkable.

Enjoy this time, mama.

And if you feel like you need some support, reach out to your Peanut community.

You don’t have to do this alone.

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