When to Use Baby Powder vs Cream: The Choice [+8 Safety Tips]

The challenge of caring for our baby’s skin is not an easy one. If you are a young parent, you will understand me. There are plenty of products on the market, but the ultimate choice usually comes to the two major options: baby powder vs cream. Which one to choose? Let’s try to sort it out together.

As a young mother, I faced the problem of my baby’s sensitive skin early on. To find the best skincare solution, I did my online research, consulted our pediatrician, and asked my fellow young moms and dads for advice. After all this work, I decided that I should share my experience with you and hopefully save you a little time.

My guide is by no means an instruction. You should always consult the specialists when dealing with your baby’s health. However, I believe that my experience and the information that I gathered can be valuable.

So let’s explore two popular choices for keeping our baby’s skin healthy: baby powder and diaper rash cream. Diaper rash is a common issue for babies and can cause discomfort and irritation. Preventing and treating it is a critical task that we need to solve to keep our baby happy and comfortable.

I’ll start by giving you some basic info about both products.

Baby powder: types and features

Baby powder is a product that has been around for many years. Our parents and grandparents used it. Nowadays, there are several types of baby powder available.

Types of baby powder

Talc-based baby powder

Manufactured from finely ground talc, talcum baby powder is excellent at absorbing moisture. Talcum powder absorbs excess moisture and helps keep the skin dry. I’m living in a humid climate and can attest that keeping my baby’s skin dry is always a challenge. However, some studies suggest the potential harm of talcum powders as far as increased ovarian cancer probability.

Cornstarch powder

This is a natural substitute for talcum powder because it’s made from corn. Its moisture-absorbing powers are as strong.

I talked to my friends who are young parents, too, and who use cornstarch powders. I heard high praise for this product, especially from the folks whose babies often suffer from diaper rash. Cornstarch powder can prevent diaper rash effectively.

Talc-free baby powders

Talc-free powders are different from talcum powder, as it’s not among their ingredients. They may include arrowroot, kaolin clay, or other natural absorbents. I usually opt for such powders; they are a safe and natural option.

I always use these powders when I put cloth diapers on my baby, for example. I would just warn the parents to make sure that their baby isn’t allergic to any ingredients of these talc-free baby powders.


  1. The most critical feature of baby powder is to soak up extra moisture. The diaper area must be dry and rash-free.
  2. Baby powder helps reduce friction and prevent chafing and irritation. When I apply baby powder, I always pay additional attention to skin folds and creases.
  3. Some baby powders contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera, which calms the skin.

Baby cream: types and features

From my experience, diaper rash creams are paramount for both the prevention and treatment of diaper rash. I used different creams in my pursuit of the best solution.

Types of creams

Barrier creams

Two main agents of these creams: zinc oxide and petroleum jelly, build an effective barrier separating the baby’s delicate skin from any moisture from the diaper. I use a barrier cream daily as a pre-emptive measure. I opt for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic diaper creams, as my baby’s skin is extra delicate.

Medicated creams

These creams contain more active agents than barrier creams, and they treat existing diaper rash. Such ingredients may include antifungal agents for yeast infections or hydrocortisone for inflammation.

I use medicated creams only for treating diaper rash that is really severe, and zinc oxide and petroleum in regular barrier creams don’t work. I always consult our pediatrician before starting the rash treatment. These creams are medications, not skincare products.

Natural and organic creams

As the name assumes, these creams are made from natural agents like aloe, calendula, and olive oil. They are mild and gentle. They secure an effective protective barrier and also soothe and moisturize sensitive skin. Diaper changes get much faster and non-traumatic. I can attest to that.


1. Generally, diaper creams are a protection to prevent excess moisture from irritating the skin.

2. Soothing and healing ingredients of many creams treat existing diaper rash and reduce inflammation.

3. The creams reduce friction between the diaper and the skin.

Baby powder vs baby cream: the ultimate choice

When I thought that I needed to decide between baby powder and baby cream, I decided to make a list of all the benefits that each option offered. Here’s what I got.

Benefits of baby powder

  1. It keeps skin dry.
  2. It prevents chafing.
  3. It soothes the skin (some powders have special ingredients that have a soothing effect.)

Benefits of baby cream

  1. It protects the skin and prevents diaper rash.
  2. It heals and soothes irritated skin. It’s perfect for babies with existing diaper rash.
  3. It prevents and treats yeast infections (applies mostly to medicated creams.)

Final choice

So here’s what I decided to do. I decided to take advantage of both products and just outline their areas of employment.

Baby powder

  1. When I change diapers, I employ baby powder to keep the skin dry.
  2. Baby powders are perfect for heat and humid environments. They prevent diaper rash.

Baby cream

  1. The diaper cream is to calm and comfort or heal the skin, especially if a rash is already there.
  2. I use diaper cream when I expect long stretches between diaper changes, for preventing diaper rash.
  3. I use medicated creams for severe rashes (but always consult our pediatrician first.)

Safety tips

I take the safety of my baby very seriously. I am sure you do, too. So here are my tips for staying safe when using baby powder and cream.

Safety tips for using baby powder

  1. No inhaling the baby powder. Sprinkle it on your palm away from your baby’s face and then apply it. Be extra cautious with talcum powder. Inhaling talcum powder can put you in danger (even to the level of ovarian cancer danger, according to some studies.) I opt for talc-free options.
  2. Use a moderate amount of baby powder. You don’t want it to cake in skin folds, just a light dusting is good enough.
  3. Store the powder in a cool, dry place in a closed container.

Safety tips for using baby diaper cream

  1. Always check the ingredients and choose the creams without harsh chemicals.
  2. Do a patch test before using the cream on the diaper area. Wait 24 hours to make sure there is no negative reaction.
  3. Prior to applying the cream, clean, and dry the diaper area. The effect of the cream will be stronger.
  4. Use a thick layer of diaper cream to secure a strong barrier.
  5. Don’t overuse medicated creams and always consult your pediatrician.


Sometimes it’s hard to make a choice between several seemingly similar products. But sometimes, you don’t have to do that because you can use both of them and just define their areas of use. That’s exactly what I did with baby powder and baby cream.

I hope you will find my article and my shared experience helpful, and your decision will come much easier. Always remember that keeping your baby’s delicate skin clean and healthy is vital.

You might also like to check: Best Diapers for Chunky Babies


Should you use diaper cream or baby powder?

It’s usually advised to use baby powder to make sure that the skin is dry and to apply diaper cream to protect the skin or treat existing diaper rash.

What is the original purpose of baby powder?

Absorbing liquid and securing the baby’s delicate skin dry condition is the purpose of baby powder. It particularly applies to the diaper area because it is an effective tool to prevent diaper rash.

Should you use baby powder every diaper change?

It’s typically advised to use baby powder only occasionally to help keep the skin free from excessive moisture. There’s no need to apply it every single time.

What is the difference between baby powder and cream?

Baby powder absorbs moisture and reduces friction. A diaper cream serves as a barrier on the skin. It also soothes it and treats diaper rash.

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