The baby-friendly cure-all product hiding in your medicine cabinet

In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, patriarch Gus Portokalos’ cure to everything is the cleaning solution Windex. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, Gus’ answer is always: “Put some Windex on it.”

And while it’s definitely not recommended to use Windex on your skin (or your baby’s!), there is one heavy-hitting household product that experts agree can be used in most situations involving your baby’s skin. It’s not expensive—and it’s probably sitting in your medicine cabinet right now. It’s good, old-fashioned Vaseline, which has been around since the late 1800s. 

Vaseline has long been a remedy for chapped lips, but its versatility extends all over the body, making it a great choice to toss in the diaper bag as a do-it-all problem solver when it comes to skin issues. 

The single-ingredient product is made of 100% petroleum jelly that goes through a purification process. The National Eczema Association has given Vaseline their “Seal of Acceptance” and recommends it for all ages.

Dr. Chelsey Straight, MD, FAAD, FACMS, double board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon and mom of three, knows that what you use on your child’s skin matters. “Petroleum jelly, specifically Vaseline, has a long history of safe use for babies and adults,” she said. “Unrefined petroleum jelly may be a concern but Vaseline is refined,” she explains. It’s also hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.

4 expert-backed uses for Vaseline as skincare for babies and kids

Here are four head-to-toe ways to make use of this powerhouse balm.

1. Alleviate cradle cap

If your baby is suffering from those annoying but totally normal crusty patches on their scalp, try Vaseline. It will soften the crusts, explains Dr. Joel “Gator” Warsh, MD, board-certified pediatrician and dad of two. Once you’ve let the Vaseline sit for a few minutes, you should be able to gently brush out the flakes and shampoo as normal, leaving your baby’s sweet head free from scaliness.


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2. Protect from chapped skin in cold weather

When skin gets dry, it can get irritated and chapped. Amy Johnson, mom and blogger, swears by Vaseline to help soothe chapped skin and to help prevent the symptoms from worsening. Johnson said found Vaseline was invaluable in combating her son’s chapped feet. “He kept clenching his little toes so hard, they would get sweaty and hold moisture,” and applying Vaseline after bath time helped his chapped toes. 

For kids going outside when it’s cold and windy, a little Vaseline can help reduce chapped cheeks or can help soothe dry, chapped hands from frequent hand-washing mixed with dry air in winter. A thin layer of Vaseline on baby’s lips is also helpful in the colder months, says Dr. Warsh.

3. Soothe eczema patches and minor cuts all over

Vaseline is great as a daily moisturizer because it helps lock in moisture and hydrates the skin, says mom of four and board-certified family medicine physician Dr. Laura Purdy. That makes Vaseline “especially useful for skin that is prone to eczema and quite effective in helping to heal and provide relief.” Because it helps hydrate skin, Vaseline can also be used to help with minor cuts and scratches as they heal. 

4. Prevent and fight diaper rash

When my first daughter was born we had an assortment of different diaper creams to use. They were all expensive and none of them seemed to particularly help. Our pediatrician recommended “good, old-fashioned Vaseline,” and it’s all we’ve ever used since in our house. 

Dr. Straight also uses Vaseline “all the time” to prevent and fight diaper rash in her house. The goal of using a diaper cream of any kind is to create a proactive barrier between baby’s skin and moisture in the diaper. One of the benefits of using Vaseline is that it “can be as effective as Triple Paste in certain scenarios,” she says. 

And you can’t beat the price: A 3-ounce tube of Triple Paste goes for $11, vs just under $4.50 for the same amount of Vaseline, making it a win for preventing diaper rash and for your wallet. If you’re dealing with a potential yeast infection or excessive moisture, Dr. Straight recommends trying something with zinc oxide. 

The possibilities for using Vaseline are endless: Dr. Warsh also points out that putting a small amount of Vaseline on zippers can help kids zip up their PJs or jackets more easily, while Johnson recalls friends talking about using Vaseline on doorknobs as part of a baby proofing strategy. 

The next time you need a solution to a skincare problem, channel Gus Portokalos and just put some Vaseline on it. Chances are, it’ll help.

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