4 Possible Health Benefits Of Shea Butter For Babies

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Shea butter is a plant-based fat derived from shea nuts. It is widely used in the haircare, skincare, and cosmetic industries. You may consider shea butter for babies if you are exploring natural, plant-based moisturizers.

The butter has a mild, nut-like aroma and is considered to be an effective emollient with anti-inflammatory properties (1). However, since it is derived from a tree nut, you need to stay alert to any allergic reactions.

Read on to know the various uses and benefits of shea butter and the precautions to consider when using it for babies.

Is Shea Butter Safe For Babies?

Shea butter is considered safe for topical use in babies. This natural skincare product is primarily made up of saturated fatty acids like palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic acid, and arachidonic acid (2). It is considered a wonderful moisturizer for dry skin.

The linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid considered vital for health. Besides, the butter contains vitamin E that is good for the skin.

Raw shea butter (organic) is best for topical use among babies and toddlers since it does not contain chemicals such as sulfates, parabens, and preservatives. However, consult a pediatrician before using shea butter for babies.

Possible Benefits Of Shea Butter For Babies

Shea butter has a range of uses from a natural moisturizer to treatment for certain skin conditions, such as eczema, rashes, and insect bites. Here are a few of its uses:

  1. Moisturizes the skin: Shea butter is known to have moisturizing properties due to the presence of fatty acids and vitamin E. It is considered one of the safest natural emollient and skin softeners you can use to moisturize your infant’s skin, scalp, and hair. Several baby products such as baby wipes, daily lotions, night baby lotion, shampoos, and moisturizing creams claim to contain shea butter.
  2. Has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: The natural, plant-based ingredient contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (3)(1)that can soothe diaper rash and insect bites.
  1. Soothes skin rashes: Several studies demonstrated the effectiveness of shea butter in managing eczema or atopic dermatitis (4). It is believed that shea butter, with its emollient properties, works as an occlusive barrier that helps retain moisture. It also helps in protecting the skin from irritants (5) and enhances collagen production that could help soothe eczema.
  1. Probable sun-protection function: Shea butter is found to have certain compounds that are known to have strong absorbance of UV radiation. However, more research is needed to validate these observations (6).

How To Use Shea Butter For Babies?

Shea butter is used as a natural product for the skin, scalp, and hair of the baby.

  1. Massage: Heat a teaspoon of shea butter and use it to massage your baby’s body regularly before bath time.
  1. Moisturizing cream: Take a small amount of butter in your hands, rub it between your palms, and apply it on the baby’s skin, except around the eyes and on genitals.
  1. For skin conditions: Do not warm the butter. Instead, use it as a skin lotion applied after a bath. It is most effective if you use it after a bath when the skin is soft and more receptive to emollients.
  1. Hair cream: You may use shea butter for your baby’s dry hair and scalp. It can be a good source of moisture for baby hair.
  1. Diaper rash cream: You can apply a thin layer of shea butter in and around the diaper area, excluding genitals.

Consult a doctor before using shea butter for any of the above purposes. Your doctor can suggest the right brands to use for the baby.

Precautions To Take While Using Shea Butter For Babies

Observing some simple precautionary steps can help you use shea butter safely for babies.

  1. Prefer raw, organic shea butter to its refined alternatives. 100% raw organic shea butter does not contain any added compounds or preservatives.
  2. Buy shea butter from a trusted source. Check for quality if you are buying a basic homemade lotion made of shea butter.
  3. If you are buying other natural baby care products that contain shea butter, then check the ingredients carefully. Look for the presence of harmful chemical ingredients, such as SLS and paraben. Give preference to products that contain only natural, plant-based ingredients.
  4. Do a patch test on a small area of the skin before using the product on the rest of the baby’s body. It can help determine possible allergic reactions. If you observe any redness, itching, swelling, or signs of general irritation, then do not use the cream.
  5. If you intend to heat shea butter, then do so only on low heat. Once heated, check the temperature by applying it on inside of your wrist. Do not apply hot shea butter on your baby’s skin as it could lead to burns.

Shea butter is a natural, plant-based product that can be safely used for babies. Choose raw or unrefined organic shea butter for your little one’s skin and hair care regimen. However, in the case of persistent dryness or any other skin or hair condition, use shea butter only after a thorough consultation with the doctor.

Key Pointers

  • Shea butter is safe to use for babies after consulting a pediatrician, as it moisturizes the skin, soothes rashes, provides sun protection, and is anti-inflammatory.
  • It can deeply moisturize the baby’s skin, prevent dryness, and may also help deal with eczema.
  • Prefer raw and organic butter, buy from a trusted store, check ingredients, and test the reaction by applying it on a small patch of skin.


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Cari Riker

Cari Riker practices Nutritional Medicine in Nashville, TN. Having grown up in a family that has a love for food, dietetics was a natural choice for Cari. With more than ten years of experience, Cari advises people on matters of food and nutrition, considering how they both impact health. She provides a holistic approach to healing with special focus on... more

Swati Patwal

Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist and toddler mom with over eight years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children. Then she worked as a nutrition faculty and clinical nutrition coach in different organizations. Her interest in scientific writing... more