A newborn has a protective layer called the vernix over the skin. This makes the skin look wrinkly and old but is nourishing and gently. Over the first few weeks of life, the layer will peel off. It does it on its own, and there’s absolutely no reason to rub it off yourself.
If your baby is born past its due date, there may not be a protective layer. This will sometimes come off in the womb, so your baby’s skin is ready for you to protect right away.
You want to do as little as you can to the newborn skin. It doesn’t need all the anti-aging creams, lotions, and serums that we use on a daily basis. There’s no need to use medicated shampoo or body washes unless you’ve been specifically advised to by a doctor. Your baby’s skin is soft and gently. It’s the most delicate thing in the world.
So, what can you do to care for it? What should you avoid to make sure it remains free from rashes and allergy symptoms? Here’s a look at our all-in-one guide to taking care of your baby’s skin.
Limit the Amount of Bathing You Do
Let’s start with the baths. Your newborn doesn’t need a bath every night. In fact, in the first year of life, you can get away with just one or two baths a week. In between those baths, consider topping and tailing—where you wash the face and bum only.
Washing more frequently than once or twice a week will cause problems for the natural oil production. The skin doesn’t have enough time to produce the right amount of oils and gets the brain gets the message that the skin is hydrated enough from the water. This just makes your baby’s skin dry and irritable. There is a higher risk of developing eczema and other skin conditions.
Babies don’t sweat that much. They don’t get dirty, except for their diapers and drool. So, you can get away with limited baths throughout the week. If your baby has had an explosive diaper, of course, bathe them even if it’s not bath night. However, push the next bath night back a day or so to counter this.
If your baby has darker skin, limit the baths to just once a week. The skin will be naturally much drier than those with fairer skin, which means more issues with stripping the natural oils.
There’s No Need to Buy Scented Products
Your baby doesn’t want to smell like a strawberry. Babies gain no benefit from the scent of mint or lavender in the bath water. In fact, these scents can be off-putting and strange.
Scented products are something you want to skip at least for the first couple of months. If you can skip for longer. The first year or two are the most precious for your baby’s skin. Most kid’s products aren’t designed for babies under three years old.
There are various toxins in scented products. When you look at the back of the ingredients, do you see the words “fragrance” or “parfum?” These sounds lovely, but they’re bad for your baby. They’re full of hidden ingredients and toxins that strip out the oils and cause excessively dry and irritated skin.
But you don’t need natural scents either. Your baby’s skin is sensitive to everything. It’s best just to stick with warm water and cotton wool for the first few months.
It’s Not Just About the Bath Products
Don’t just keep the scents and fragrances out of the bath water. You want to think about the products you’re putting into the laundry. Most of laundry detergents have added chemicals and harsh dies. They get trapped in the clothes and then affect your baby’s skin.
You want to opt for non-bio, dye-free laundry detergent. This will be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it to avoid rashes and irritations on your baby’s skin.
Don’t put a new item of clothing straight on your baby. You need to wash it first to get rid of any dust that has collected in the fibers while being shipped and stored. Do the same with blankets, sheets, and anything other fabric that will go near your baby.
Massage Your Baby’s Skin to Improve Moisture and Blood Circulation
Like you, your baby will enjoy a massage. This is best done after bath time and is one of the best ways to get one-on-one time. Remain gentle with your hands, and keep the lights dim. You could also opt for some soft music playing in the background, helping your baby feel sleepy and ready for bed.
Did you know that massages can help your child develop a survivalist nature? The sense of touch triggers an array of hormones, helping to improve the immunity and increase the ability to fight disease. Your baby will be a better sleeper and cry much less throughout the day. It can also help to ease colic in younger babies.
Use gentle baby oil or coconut oil on your baby’s skin. There’s no need to get anything scented. You want something that will help add moisture to your baby’s skin without creating potential allergies.
Use a firm touch, stroking the tummy and chest as your baby lays on a carpet or towel. Make sure the room is warm but not too hot. Babies do get cold quickly, so around 18-20C is just right.
Not all babies like a massage. You’ll know if yours doesn’t if there’s fussing or crying. Try lightening your touch first and if that changes nothing, try again in a few weeks time.
Check with Your Doctor Before Using Any Creams or Lotions
Don’t put lotion on your baby’s skin because you think it will help to ease some irritation or redness. The only thing that is standard is diaper cream. Anything else and you need to check with your doctor first. There are potentially harmful ingredients in some over the counter products, as they’re not all designed for babies.
This is especially important if you’re worried about eczema, skin irritations, and other conditions. Your doctor will want to look at the condition first. Your doctor will need to make sure that there are no underlying conditions or other medical concerns before recommending a certain type of cream.
Most skin conditions won’t appear in the first couple of months. If you see anything during this time, talk to your doctor immediately. If there is anything that you’re unsure about, find out if there is a specific cream or lotion that you should try. You may find that the best method is warm water and cotton clothing to help the skin heal itself.
When your child is suffering from eczema, dry skin, or irritations, keep your bathing schedule to just once or twice a week—unless there’s that explosive diaper! You want to help encourage the body to produce more natural oils and spread those oils across your baby’s skin.
If the rashes and irritations are around the mouth and chin, it is possible that the drool is causing it. Salvia has enzymes that will break down bacteria and protect the teeth and gums. Unfortunately, these enzymes are irritating to the skin. Whenever your baby drools, wipe it up gently with a clean cloth. You should see the irritation minimize relatively quickly.
Prevent Diaper Rashes Forming
Diaper rashes are common. The most common reason is due to a soiled diaper irritating the skin. One of the best ways to prevent diaper rashes from forming is by changing your baby’s diaper regularly. Do it immediately after soiling and opt for every two to four hours or so when wet.
Make sure you dry your baby’s bottom fully after a bath. Leaving any amount of liquid behind can irritate, as the diaper will soak that liquid in.
However, a diaper rash can also be caused by a yeast or bacterial infection. If your baby is taking antibiotics for any reason, you may find that yeast infections are common. This is also a common problem in adults. The good news is your doctor will be able to treat the fungal infection. Some doctors may recommend treating after a course of antibiotics, as the antibiotics make it easier for fungal infections to grow.
You won’t usually need a lot of lotions or cream for diaper rashes. Zinc oxide cream is one of the most effective and most natural—depending on the brand. The zinc works with the immune system to clear up wounds and prevent bacteria setting in making the rash worse.
Before you do try medicinal or herbal treatments, opt for some warm water and a mild, scent-free cleanser first. Use a cloth or some cotton wool to cleanse the rash gently. If it is severe, your baby will kick and scream to get you away because it can be painful.
Avoid using wipes or anything that will dry out the skin. This will just make it worse. Never rub the area dry. Pat gently with a clean towel each time. If you can, put your baby on a towel without a diaper for the air to help dry out the affected area.
Vaseline is one of the best options for preventing further rashes forming. It creates a protective layer over the skin, so the moisture can’t get in and irritate it. Try to avoid talc or other powdered options, as they can cause breathing problems in babies.
If the diaper rash doesn’t clear up after three days, it could be a bacterial or fungal infection. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Don’t Change Products Too Often
Unlike with adults, you don’t want to change the products you use on your baby too often. Your baby’s skin will be sensitive to changes. You could find that rashes and allergies develop because you don’t stick to the same brand or ingredients. The only time you want to change is if you have too—such as the brand is discontinued, or you’ve found out your child is allergic.
Give your child’s skin a couple of weeks to get used to any product that you do try. If you find that rashes or irritations form after that time, you’ll need to consider something different.
Use as few products as possible. You only need a shampoo, cleanser, laundry detergent, diaper cream, and lotion for the baby massage. There’s no need to stop upon other marketed items. The companies are out to make money and not to protect your baby’s skin.
Don’t Forget About Sunscreen
Your baby needs just as much protection from the sun as you do. Sure, a little bit of sun is good to get the vitamin D, but your baby doesn’t need a lot of unprotected time. In fact, sitting by a window to get the sun’s rays is often enough to help prevent jaundice and other medical complaints.
When going out, make sure your child has plenty of sunscreens. Don’t be afraid to slather it on and opt for SPF 50 at least. Higher is better for your baby’s sensitive skin. Reapply that sunscreen every two hours at least. If your baby is in water, dry off and reapply it. Give the sunscreen 30 minutes to soak in and become effective.
You should also consider a hat and baby shades to help keep your baby protected from the sun’s rays. Stay away from the sun between the hottest hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Give your baby a chance to develop pigment protection.
You can protect your child’s skin from the very first day. By using the right products and treatments, you can avoid the majority of skin complaints that occur in many babies. You can reduce the risk of allergies and eczema forming, meaning your baby is a happy and smiley baby. This all-in-one guide should show just how easy it is to protect your baby’s skin.