As a parent, there’s nothing quite like touching the soft, delicate skin of your newborn. There’s also nothing like a cranky baby irritated by cradle cap, diaper rash, or any other skin condition.
While all babies are perfect, their skin may not be.
A newborn’s skin is very sensitive, and so is their immune system. As such, otherwise harmless fragrances, dyes in clothing, detergents, and even baby products can cause skin irritation, rashes, chaffing, and excessive dryness.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to protect your baby’s skin.
1. Baths: Less is More
Too frequent baths remove the natural oils that protect your child’s skin. This may leave it dry and flaky, or even aggravate eczema.
Thus, until your baby’s first birthday, keep bath frequency down at thrice a week. For darker skin tones, make it once a week because babies with this skin tone tend to have dryer skin. In between the bath days, you can clean the mouth and the diaper area.
When bathing your baby, be careful not to use too much soap. Baby soap doesn’t lather like ordinary soap, so don’t be tempted to add more because there’s no foam.
2. Mind the Sun
A newborn can get sunburnt in as little as ten minutes—even on a cloudy day. It’s not advisable to expose your infant’s delicate skin to sunlight during the first month or so. Keep in mind that sunscreens aren’t approved for babies in this age bracket. But on the rare occasions you have to expose an infant under six months to sunlight, applying sunscreen is safer than not.
If your baby is aged over a month, a walk in the park now and then won’t hurt. In fact, it’s highly recommended that both of you get some fresh air regularly. That said, you still need to dress your baby in sun-protective clothing. But that doesn’t mean overdressing your baby on a hot day. As a general rule, dress your baby in the same number of layers of clothing you’re wearing, and keep a blanket at hand just in case.
Additionally, have your infant wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the head and face from direct sunlight. If possible, avoid taking them outside between 10 AM and 3 PM because that’s when the sun’s rays are the strongest and most harmful. If you do, keep your baby under a shade at all times.
3. Choose Gentle Baby Products
Whatever the case, don’t ever use adult shampoo or soap on your baby. Until they cross the one-year mark, stick to baby soaps and shampoos. These are specially formulated for infants, with little or no deodorant, alcohol, dye, or other ingredients that might harm your baby’s skin.
That said, just because a product has “baby” on its label doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe for your little one. Like any other item, baby products vary in quality. So take a closer look at the ingredient list, and buy products with the fewest weird chemicals. Prioritize tear-free formulas because they’re less likely to irritate your infant’s eyes.
4. Keep the Skin Moisturized
To maintain the natural softness of an infant’s skin and prevent flaking or dryness, you need to keep it moisturized. As soon as you’re done bathing your baby, pat them dry and apply a moisturizer. If your baby is prone to skin dryness, you’ll need to moisturize in between baths.
Unlike baths, there are no limits when it comes to moisturizing your baby’s skin. Apply as much as needed. You can also install a humidifier in your baby’s room to prevent the air from being too dry as this can suck out the moisture in your baby’s skin.
5. Clean the Folds
While moisturizing your baby’s skin is highly encouraged, you need to keep dampness at bay. Moisture can build up in skin folds and cause rashes. This is particularly a big issue from the age of 3 months onwards when the baby starts drooling more.
To keep redness, skin peeling, and chaffing in check, clean all of your infant’s nooks twice a day. Use lukewarm water in case there are any food particles trapped in there. Also, wipe your baby’s mouth as needed and ensure they wear a bib during meals.
6. Expect Diaper Rashes
Every baby gets a diaper rash at some point in their childhood, so you should expect and be prepared to deal with them.
The good news is that diaper rashes aren’t serious and will clear up in a few days. That said, you’ll need to mitigate the situation by frequently changing diapers and cleaning the bum area thoroughly using pH-balanced wipes.
In case of a rash, you’ll need to determine whether it’s a regular diaper rash or a yeast diaper rash before you decide on the next step. Regular diaper rash usually disappears with Over-the-Counter creams, while a diaper rash caused by a yeast infection needs a prescription cream to heal.
No matter the skin type your baby has, going diaperless for a while can air the bum and help clear up the rash.
7. Get Extra Help for Super-Dry Skin
Another common type of skin rash in babies is eczema. It manifests in the form of a dry, itchy skin rash that usually appears on the forehead and cheeks—but can also appear anywhere else.
Eczema commonly appears after the first four to five months of age, and most cases clear up with over the counter medication. If the problem is persistent, consult a pediatrician as soon as possible.
Healthy Skin for a Healthy Baby
A baby’s skin can be complicated to take care of since it’s so sensitive and delicate. But with these 7 tips, you can ensure your baby’s skin stays healthy and soft to your touch. A proper baby skincare regime will also prevent skin problems as the child grows into a teenager.
However, you should keep in mind that these tips are no substitute for a pediatrician’s recommendations. If any of them conflicts what your doctor says, the pediatrician’s opinion should always prevail.
Dani Fogel. is a Communication Coordinator at Brandable, based in Los Angeles, CA. She works on the Queen V brand within the company’s Digital and Ecommerce department.