How to Care for Your Baby’s Skin
Your baby’s delicate skin is, well, soft as a baby’s bottom—but keeping it that way can sometimes be a challenge. Many factors, including soggy diapers as well as changes in temperature and humidity, can affect your baby’s skin. Use this guide to keep your child’s skin smooth, clean and baby-soft.
Make bath time more enjoyable for baby.
Babies need two to three baths a week in warm—not hot—water to stay clean. Dip your elbow in the water to test the temperature, as it’s more sensitive to heat than your hand. Then fill the bathtub with no more than two or three inches of water. To prevent your baby from getting cold while you bathe him, regularly pour cupfuls of water over his little shoulders. Keep testing the temperature as you go; when it gets cool, it’s time to wrap up bath time. And pay attention to your baby’s reaction to bath time and plan your day accordingly; you may find that splashing around in the water wakes him up. If so, try giving him a bath at the beginning of the day. If it puts him to sleep, schedule bath time right before he goes down for his nap.
To clean your child’s hair, dip a washcloth in the soapy water and use it to gently wash your baby’s scalp with baby shampoo. To clean his face, moisten a cotton ball and gently dab at it, or use a clean, soft washcloth dipped in water. Be sure to clean between skin folds and between fingers and toes.
To lift your baby out of the tub, place one hand on his neck to support his head and use your other hand to support his bottom, with your fingers around one thigh. Wrap him in a hooded towel. Once dry, apply baby lotion immediately to seal in moisture and prevent dry skin.
Take the stress out of diaper changes.
Don’t let your diaper-changing routine turn into a nightmare for you and a painful experience for your baby. Be sure to change your child’s diaper frequently so he’s not sitting in wet or dirty diapers. Once you’ve removed the dirty diaper, begin by wiping him gently but thoroughly with baby wipes. Dab diaper cream on your baby’s bottom, or use a squirt bottle filled with warm water to clean his bottom; gently pat dry. Excess moisture can cause an irritating diaper rash, so pause for a few moments to allow your baby to air-dry before putting a fresh diaper on him. Contrary to popular belief, baby powders aren’t a necessary step if you allow a little time for your baby to air-dry. If you want to use them anyway, lightly sprinkle just a small amount of powder on your baby’s bottom. Purchasing well-fitting, fragrance-free diapers can help your baby avoid chafing and discomfort.
Be mindful of products.
It’s best to use skin-care products made especially for babies, such as fragrance-free and tear-free shampoos, bath gels and lotions. If you need to deviate from a trusted product, be watchful of your baby’s reaction. Because baby’s skin is so delicate, sudden changes might prompt a rash, or you might discover an allergic reaction to certain products—even those formulated for sensitive baby skin.
Dry skin can also cause irritation. Ointments, which have a thicker consistency, are better at keeping your little one’s skin soft, but there are a range of products available to help solve the problem of dry skin. You can also help avoid the problem entirely by staying away from perfumed, antibacterial and deodorant soaps, as they might be too harsh for delicate skin. Baby soaps are the best choice for your little one.
Watch out for the weather.
Babies can be exposed to sunlight once they are 6 months old, but apply sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 all over exposed skin. Apply the sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside for the best protection. If it’s a hot day, be especially vigilant; because babies have underdeveloped sweat glands, they are very susceptible to heat rash. To prevent this, dress your child in loose clothing and add a wide-brimmed hat to shield her face from the sun.
In the winter, dry, cold air can harm your baby’s skin, so place a cool-mist humidifier in your nursery to add moisture to the air. Just be sure to clean the humidifier regularly or it will develop mold. Also, give your baby plenty of water to stay hydrated during the cold, dry months.
It’s a good idea to dress your baby in layers year-round so you can easily change him into the proper clothing to shield his skin from the sunlight, heat or cold. But skip fragranced laundry detergent that might irritate his skin before you even set foot outside.
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