The lips can give you many clues about your baby’s health. For example, you may notice chapped lips after your baby has started breastfeeding. Sometimes, you may notice some discoloration after your baby starts taking to the bottle or sippy cup. Are chapped or dark lips a cause for worry? Does breastfeeding make my baby’s lips dark?
The most common reason behind a baby’s lips discoloration is breastmilk. However, your baby’s lips do not turn dark from breastfeeding, but it is because the residue milk is not wiped properly from your baby’s lips after the feeding.
Make sure you wipe your baby’s lips thoroughly after each feeding, and this goes not just for breastfeeding. Wipe their lips down after you have taken the bottle or sippy cup away as well. Your baby sucking too hard may also cause the lips to go dark.
There are a few other reasons behind the discoloration of a baby’s lips. Once you know why this is happening, you can remedy it using the tips.
Some common causes that a baby’s lips turn black?
Apart from residual breast milk, a baby’s lips could turn black for a couple of other reasons. The most common of these are
- The baby is sucking too hard while feeding
- Nipple cream
Your baby’s lips could turn black because it may be sucking too hard while breastfeeding. This is also true in the case of a bottle or a pacifier. When the baby sucks too hard, there is a temporary reduction of blood supply to the lips. Sometimes, the lips look darker than normal because of this. You will notice this more on the inner lips.
Nipple cream is another thing that can cause your baby’s lips to turn black. If you use nipple cream, gently wipe it off before feeding your baby. This can be a little painful. If you do not wipe it off, the thick ointment can be left behind on your baby’s lips. This acts as a magnet to collect milk residue and dirt.
How can I prevent my baby’s lips from turning black?
If your baby’s lips are turning black from leftover milk, it is easy to sort this by cleaning their lips with a damp cloth after every feeding. This way, there will not be any residual milk after feeding.
If your baby’s lips are turning black from sucking too hard, they should change back to their original color in no time.
Good oral hygiene is key to keeping your baby’s lips and gums healthy. Clean your baby’s mouth regularly. Get them used to the process. This practice will come in handy when they grow older as well. It helps to establish a routine to brush twice a day.
Take your time cleaning your baby’s lips and gums, and do it gently. Follow the steps below to ensure no milk residue is left over after a feeding:
- Wash your hands and make sure they are clean.
- Take a small piece of cloth. Cotton or gauze will also work well for this.
- Wrap the cloth around your index finger and dip it in clean water.
- Wipe your baby’s gums. Be gentle but thorough.
- Wipe the lips.
You need not wipe your baby’s gums after every feeding. Just the lips will do. The gums should always be wiped at night after the last feeding, though, so there is no milk residue sitting on the gums overnight.
Is discoloration of lips normal for babies?
The discoloration is normal for babies. Other than the blackening of the lips that we have just been through, your baby’s lips may get discolored due to a couple of different reasons. Not all of them are cause for worry. However, some of them might need immediate medical attention.
Here are some of the reasons why your baby’s lips may develop a different color:
Blue or Purple lips
Blue or purple lips could cause concern if it lasts for a prolonged time. Blue lips could indicate a lack of oxygen in the baby. If your baby seems to become less responsive, this could be a potentially serious issue known as cyanosis. Getting your baby to the emergency room is vital if you notice blue lips accompanied by a blue tongue and blue nails. They need urgent medical attention. Cyanosis can also be at birth.
Another reason your baby’s lips turn blue is a rapid temperature change. Your baby takes a little longer to adjust to temperature changes. It is normal for their lips to change color at this time. This is quite frequent in instances where there is a sudden temperature change. Like, when they get out of the bath or are taken outside into colder temperatures. You can follow some tips to remedy this.
- Make sure you change your baby’s clothes quickly, so they are not exposed to the cold air after a bath. You can also have a warm towel nearby to wrap the baby in.
- Bundle them up properly in warm clothing when you are taking them outdoors.
- If it is raining, or you live in a place with frost or snow, make sure the baby is adequately covered with the right kind of clothes.
Your baby may have dry lips that may be redder than other babies. It could also be because the babies have been outside in higher temperatures. Remember that red lips may not necessarily be due to chapping of the lips but can sometimes be so. Occasionally, you may notice your baby’s lips being very red and swollen, which could indicate chapped lips. Chapped lips are dry or cracked lips that may be painful for your baby.
Babies have susceptible skin. The skin on the lips is also the same. So, chapped lips are typical in babies. Some common causes of chapped lips in babies are dehydration, skin shedding, sucking on the lips, skin sensitivities, weather changes, and nutritional deficiencies. Babies can also get chapped lips as a reaction to certain medications.
If your baby is feeding well despite the red lips, they may not be bothering your baby too much. If you notice that the red lips are interfering with your baby’s feeding patterns and do not seem to be feeding very well, you can use one of the following-
- A dab of breast milk
- Any organic oil – coconut, olive, or almond
- Lip balm that is safe for your baby
- Petroleum jelly
- A damp cloth
All of these help to moisturize your baby’s lips. You should take a small amount of any of these and dab it onto your baby’s lips. They will provide a much-needed soothing effect for your baby while speeding up the healing process. You do not have to use a lip scrub or sugar to remove the dead skin. Do not peel the dead skin either.
Caring tips for baby’s lips:
A baby’s skin is susceptible to heat and touch. So keep the following tips in mind when you clean their lips after feeding.
- Use a cloth that is soft and skin-friendly. Using a towel that is meant for adults could irritate the skin further.
- If you are using a warm towel after the baby’s bath, make sure it is not wet.
- The products that you use for your skin may not suit the baby. So, do not use any cosmetics on the baby’s lips to avoid chapping.
- If a caretaker or nanny is cleaning the lips, instruct them to do it gently and not rub too hard to remove any splotches or patches.
- Do not use over-the-counter medication or any products you see on your baby’s social media. Please verify with your pediatrician or medical practitioner before using them. Also, check the ingredients on every product before use.
- Do not self-diagnose.
You should keep your baby healthy and avoid dark lips with these tips. However, if the problem of dark lips persists despite taking the necessary steps, please consult your doctor to ensure no underlying issue.