Did you know a newborn’s skin is 30% thinner than an adult’s, requiring protection at all times? Their skin is also sensitive and prone to dryness and irritation, meaning you must keep it nourished and healthy at all times. It starts with identifying and understanding what skin care practices are vital as a parent or caregiver. So, if you’ve been charged with the life-changing responsibility of caring for a newborn, use the following tips to treat their skin the right way.
Massage your newborn’s skin
It is important to gently massage your baby’s skin as gently as possible daily. Indeed, daily massages can help keep your newborn baby’s skin supple and nourished. However, ensure you only use recommended baby lotions or oils. Options like olive oil, almond, and coconut oil are excellent if you don’t want to use store-bought products. As a tip, heat the oils a bit to a lukewarm temperature before using them. Doing this will soothe them, help them sleep better, and improve their skin.
Even better, the lukewarm oils can help promote good blood flow and circulation.
To massage your newborn, stroke them gently from the middle of their forehead and work your way down the outside areas of their face, then towards their cheeks. Next, massage the scalp in a circular motion, being as gentle and slow as possible. Once done, massage the front side of the body, turn them onto their tummy, and work on the back area. Use long, gentle, smooth strokes from head to toe when massaging the back.
Don’t go overboard with the baths
It makes sense to bathe your older children every day, even twice daily. But newborns do not need too much daily bathing. In fact, doctors do not recommend it. Experts say limiting soapy baths to at least thrice a week is best. So, why is this important? You don’t want your newborn’s skin to lose its natural oils, especially when they’re that young. Daily or frequent bathing with soap will dry their skin and remove its protective layer. That means your baby will be more prone to skin infections and irritation. While daily soapy baths are an absolute no-no, sponge baths should be limited to what was given initially. Also, avoid getting your newborn’s umbilical cord wet to prevent infections. Speaking of infections, the next tip is also important.
Learn to identify and treat common newborn skin infections
It’s possible to notice suspicious-looking crusting, bumps, or rashes on your newborn’s skin out of nowhere. Don’t be too alarmed. In most cases, these are nothing serious and super easy to treat. It’s worth noting that skin infections are common in newborns. According to experts from John Hopkins, common culprits include cradle caps, diaper rash, and erythema toxicum.
Also, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 20% of newborns can have a type of acne known as neonatal acne. Eczema in babies is also pretty common, although it may appear similar to baby acne. You can learn more about the differences online. Simply search for ‘baby eczema vs. baby acne: how to tell the difference,’ and you’ll find informative content to read. While various skin conditions are common in newborns, you need to be able to diagnose them properly to know the right treatment. If you’re unsure of your newborn’s skin issue, visiting your pediatrician is best.
Use the right things to bathe your baby
As indicated earlier, a newborn’s bath is unlike an older child’s, and you must assemble the right bathing products. Ensure you always have the following supplies: a sponge-type bath cushion (you can use a thick towel as an alternative), soft washcloths, a clean sink or basin, some cotton balls (although these are optional), non-irritating baby soap and shampoo, a clean towel (you can add a hooded towel too), clean diaper, and some clean clothes. Also, use only baby products throughout every stage of the bathing session. If you want to introduce any bathing or skin care product, do so gradually and watch out for signs of an allergic reaction.
Know how to give your newborn a bath
After assembling the right items, you must know how to bathe your newborn. Ideally, bath time should be 5 to 10 minutes and not more. Anything beyond this can end up drying out their skin. The room should be warm, ideally about 75° F without drafts. Place some thick towels at the bottom of the basin or sink for the baby to sit on, and never take your hands off them throughout the bathing session. Start bathing them from the face, using a soft washcloth. Clean out the bridges of the nose and ears and wipe the corners of each eye. Next, use gentle and non-irritating soapy water to wash the rest of the body with the help of a soft washcloth. Once down, rinse well, and as mentioned earlier, avoid getting the umbilical cord wet.
Pat the skin dry, don’t rub it
After every bathing session, you want to promote a soothing and comfy post-bath experience in a way that safeguards your baby’s skin. Patting, rather than rubbing, their skin after bathing is recommended to ensure gentle care and prevent irritation. Also, patting your newborn’s skin allows it to retain more moisture, which is beneficial for maintaining hydration. On the other hand, rubbing can create friction on the skin, which may cause redness, dryness, and discomfort. As a tip, pat with a soft towel to absorb excess moisture without causing unnecessary friction. Some experts recommend wrapping your baby in a soft towel after bathing them, so feel free to consider this.
Moisturize at the right time
A newborn’s skin is tender and very prone to dryness. So after every bath time, implement a moisturization step immediately. This way, you can lock all the moisture in the skin, keeping it hydrated. Additionally, moisturizing right after a bath can aid in soothing your baby’s skin in case of minor irritations or rashes. Always apply an appropriate moisturizer specifically formulated for infants at the right time. Don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced dermatologist if you’re unsure what moisturizer is ideal for your newborn. You can use a baby lotion containing shea butter and kokum butter to intensely moisturize sensitive skin.
Don’t forget the diapering essentials
Always ensure you handle the skin around your baby’s diaper area with extra care, as it is most prone to rashes and infections. Also, experts recommend regularly changing your newborn’s diaper, preferably every 2 to 3 hours or as often as needed. That’s because most newborns urinate as often as every 2 to 3 hours. Plus, some newborn babies can have bowel movements 2 to 5 times daily. When changing your baby’s diapers, always wipe the place clean. Do this thoroughly and gently using baby wipes. However, you must be careful when using baby wipes.
Some of them may contain chemicals that can irritate your baby’s skin. To be safe, opt for fragrance-free and alcohol-free baby wipes. You can apply nappy rash cream or lotion if you spot a breakout, so keep this in mind. As a tip, consider investing in diapers infused with aloe vera and zinc, as they act as an extra protective barrier against rashes. They can also minimize harmful enzyme activity while preventing the growth of microbes, so feel free to consider this.
Dress your baby in gentle clothes
It’s best to dress your baby in gentle, clean, loose, and light garments, especially during warm months. Doing this can help prevent prickly heat and rashes. Of course, thicker materials are ideal during colder months, but comfort should be your priority. Indeed, hygiene is super crucial if you want to protect your newborn’s skin. Therefore, wash all baby clothes, blankets, and bedding at least once before the first use, once a week if used occasionally, and every couple of days if used frequently. Remember to separate your baby’s items from the rest of the family’s laundry during laundry time. It’s also best to stick with gentle baby laundry wash, especially ones containing antibacterial ingredients. At the very least, choose a laundry detergent without harsh chemicals or fragrances to wash your baby’s clothes and bedding.
Trim your baby’s nails carefully
Trim or cut your newborn baby’s nails carefully to protect their delicate skin from accidental scratches and potential infections. Don’t underestimate how quickly a newborn’s nails can grow. Indeed, their grown nails can become sharp, increasing the risk of unintentional cuts, particularly during playtime or when they touch their face. So, if you notice your baby’s nails grow, trim them carefully with baby-safe nail clippers or files to maintain a safe length. However, you must be extra cautious while trimming, as the surrounding skin is still delicate and thin. The last thing you want to do is harm your baby when trimming their nails.
Caring for your newborn’s skin is essential for preventing infections. Hopefully, you’ll consider these tips to achieve the best results.