Baby skin is different from adult skin as it is much thinner. This simply means that it is more delicate and sensitive. It is more susceptible to environmental changes like changes in humidity and temperature. Hence it is more prone to allergies, infections, rashes and irritants.
The skin is a baby’s first line of defence against the external world. Therefore, caring for baby’s skin may require special attention and protection to keep it healthy. Even though taking care of baby’s skin may appear complicated, the important thing to remember is to keep it suitably moisturised and hydrated at all times.
The best approach towards baby’s skincare is “less is safe”. It may not be a good idea to use adult skincare products for the baby. A baby’s skin is also vulnerable to allergies triggered by the use of harsh products. Chemical soaps and shampoos, harsh detergents, and over bathing should be avoided, too. So, how can you take care of your baby’s skin? Let’s find out!
A newborn baby’s skin is generally greased and coated with a white wax-like matter called vernix which slowly peels off during the first few weeks after birth. This natural procedure requires no help in terms of rubbing the skin or applying creams to it. It may be enough to simply sponge the baby clean during the initial weeks after birth with particular attention to the mouth and diaper area of the baby.
Excessive bathing can rob the baby’s skin of its natural oils and result in dryness and flaking. So, bathing a baby 3-4 times a week may be adequate. Make sure you use a mild soap and lukewarm water for bathing your little one. The temperature of the room in which the baby is later dried off should be warm enough to protect him from a chill or a cold. Also, always use soft, cotton towels to gently pat the baby dry.
Powdering a baby after a bath may not be necessary if enough time is given for air drying. But if you must powder the baby after bathing, it is best to use a safe, baby talcum powder which is not likely to irritate the delicate skin. Avoid using perfumed powders which contain chemicals, or the grainy ones, particularly for the nappy area for it may result in unnecessary skin problems later on.
4. Natural products
Babies have very tender and fragile skin. After birth, the baby’s skin requires time to get accustomed to the new harsh environment and its varying changes. Therefore, natural and organic baby products which are devoid of any chemicals are a safer option than perfumed or harsh antibacterial products which may cause rashes and dryness. It is not recommended to test any new products on the baby’s skin to avoid any possible reaction. It is advisable to use products which are specifically designed for babies like mild baby soaps, tear-free shampoos and gentle lotions. Be mindful of your baby’s developing reactions to the products being used and seek medical attention when needed.
5. Expect Bumps, Spots, and Rashes
There’s nothing quite like the soft, delicate skin of a baby. And nothing like a cranky infant irritated by diaper rash, cradle cap, or another skin condition. While your baby is perfect, their skin may not be. Many babies are prone to skin irritation in their first few months. Here’s what you can do about it.
A diaper rash may develop if the baby has been wearing a dirty diaper for long, if the diaper is too tight, or if the baby is allergic to a specific brand of diapers. It is desirable to change the diapers immediately after the baby has soiled it in order to avoid rashes and skin infections. Select diapers that are absorbent and soft. Most rashes may not be a cause of any serious concern, but if the rash persists, then it is prudent to consult a paediatrician.
6. Skin problems
Some babies may develop acne, which is different from adult acne. In such a case, it is best to seek treatment from a doctor. Sometimes, babies have eczema or atopic dermatitis, a kind of skin rash. Eczema could lead to dry, itchy, thickened, and scaly skin sometimes with red patches. Eczema is difficult to cure as it is an inherited skin condition, but it can be contained with the correct treatment. Most babies who develop eczema usually grow out of the condition gradually.
Massages are a great way to bond with your baby. Gently massaging the baby’s skin with natural oils also helps in nourishing and moisturising it. Coconut oil is commonly preferred. You must, however, avoid using commercial oils that usually contain perfumes and chemicals which may distress the baby’s skin and cause reactions.
8. Sun Exposure
It is not recommended to expose the fragile skin of a baby to direct sunlight, especially during the initial months of birth, as it may result in sunburn. When venturing out in the sun, it is wise to keep the baby suitably covered with long-sleeved clothes, full pants, caps and to apply baby-safe sunscreen on the exposed skin.
9. Cotton Clothes
Babies are prone to prickly heat rashes because of sweating in skin folds. Therefore, it is best to clothe the baby in loose cotton clothes as they are soft, more absorbent, and comfortable. Avoid using synthetic clothes as they may be abrasive and can cause allergic reactions. You may choose the layer the clothes or not according to the weather conditions.
Moisturising is a vital step in skin care for babies, as baby skin is prone to dryness. Applying moisturiser after bathing may help lock in the moisture and keep the skin supple and hydrated. Alternatively, ointments or baby lotions may also be used.
11. Gentle Detergents
It is advisable to always wash the newly bought baby clothes and bedding before using them. They may seem clean, but it is sensible to wash them once with a gentle, non-perfumed cleaner to free them of any germs and to soften them. Also, bear in mind that baby’s clothes must be washed separately from the family’s laundry.