Prevent a Toddler's Lips From Getting Chapped

6 Easy Tips to Protect Them From the Elements

Mother applying lip balm to her daughter

L.A. NOVIA / Getty Images

When it comes to keeping your child safe from the elements, the lips can easily be overlooked—until they become chapped and sore, that is. The skin of the lips is thinner than that of other areas of the body, making it especially vulnerable to cold, dry air (indoor and out), wind, and sun.

Add in a toddler's drooling, thumb-sucking, or pacifier use and you have a recipe for pink, raw, and cracked skin around the mouth. The good news is you can help prevent chapped lips with a few easy tips.

How to Prevent Toddler Chapped Lips

Make sure that your toddler stays hydrated and drinks plenty of fluids. Use a humidifier at home and wipe your child's lips gently throughout the day. If your toddler's lips do get chapped, discourage them from licking them and use lip balm to help repair the cracked skin.

Keep Toddlers Hydrated

Children ages 1 to 3 need at least 5.5 cups of fluid each day, but it doesn't all need to be water. Healthy beverages, such as milk and fruit juice, and foods with a high moisture content, like watermelon and soup, count toward the daily total. It is common for children to get 30% of their daily fluid intake through food.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises limiting juice consumption to 4 ounces a day and only serving pasteurized juice with no added sugar.

Humidify Your Home

If the air inside your home is dry, consider using a humidifier in the areas where your toddler sleeps and plays. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions about cleaning the humidifier to prevent bacteria and mold, and keep the humidifier out of children's reach.

Put a Stop to Lip-Licking

When lips are rough and dry, the natural reaction is to try to moisten them with your tongue. However, this is counterproductive as wetting lips leads to more chapping as they air-dry.

If you catch your child licking their lips, remind them to stop. You can also take steps to remove the urge to lick by gently buffing lips with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush when they get flaky.

Wipe Toddlers' Mouths

To help prevent and heal chapping, try to wipe your tot's mouth dry throughout the day and after meals and snacks.

Slick On Lip Balm

Don't wait for the first signs of chapping to apply lip balm; routinely coat the lips and the area directly around them to prevent drying. Petroleum-based or beeswax-based lip balms are recommended, as these options are safe to use on toddlers and will seal in moisture and protect lips from exposure to the elements.

Pediatricians advise using a lip balm that also contains sunscreen because lips are particularly prone to damage from UV rays.

Soothe Sore Lips

If despite your best efforts your little one's lips become dry, flaky, chapped, and sore, smooth on a medicated balm or ointment intended for use in this area. While uncomfortable, chapped lips are not typically harmful. However, if your child's cracked lips are bleeding or accompanied by a fever lasting more than five days, consult your pediatrician.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Consensus Statement. Healthy Beverage Consumption in Early Childhood: Recommendations from Key National Health and Nutrition Organizations.

  2. Heyman MB, Abrams SA. Fruit Juice in Infants, Children, and Adolescents: Current RecommendationsPediatrics. 2017;139(6). doi:10.1542/peds.2017-0967

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Skin Protectant Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use.

Additional Reading

By Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown is a parenting writer with experience in the Head Start program and in NAEYC accredited child care centers.