When it comes to babies ‘less is always more’, and it is recommended to avoid the use of skin cleansing and moisturising products for the first few weeks. Just water will do great for the first 4 weeks! A sponge bath two or three times a week will keep your baby safely clean. In between, simply wash your baby’s mouth or nappy area with a little water or cleanser.
Your baby will be born with wrinkly skin and a protective covering like a creamy white coating called vernix that peels off. This is a natural process during the first week and there is no need to hurry it, rub it or treat it with lotions or creams. Leave it on the skin to absorb naturally.
Instead of using shampoo for the first few weeks, you can use a baby comb to remove debris, such as skin flakes from your baby’s hair.
Your baby’s eyes should not be cleaned unless your midwife, health visitor or doctor tells you otherwise. In case your baby’s eyes are sticky, you can gently wipe them with cotton wool dampened with sterile or cooled boiled water. Use a fresh cotton wool for each eye.
If your baby’s skin is dry or cracked, it’s best to seek advice from your midwife or health visitor. Avoid creams or lotions if possible as they may cause further problems. You can use some natural plant based oils, like almond or olive oil to massage into dry skin. But it’s best to avoid anything but water in the first few weeks as other products may result in allergic reactions or eczema. After the first few weeks you can introduce an emollient based cream on any dry skin, which will not dry out the skin but will give some protection. Remember to use these products sparingly at the beginning and avoid anything including alcohol, colour or perfume. Your health visitor or chemist will be able to advise on products.
The same as with anything else, avoid using baby wipes until your baby is at least 2-4 weeks old and then choose ones which are mild and free from alcohol and perfume.
If your baby has arrived a little earlier than planned, prematurely, then try to avoid using skin care products for the first 6-8 weeks as the skin’s protective barrier will take longer to mature.
Nappy rash is on every parents’ mind and can occur due to prolonged exposure to urine or poo. Cleanse your baby’s bottom with water whenever the nappy is soiled and use good quality super-absorbent nappies. A petroleum based lubricant can be used as a protection against nappy rash. If your baby does experience nappy rash, use a zinc based cream to treat it.
Once your baby’s skin has developed its naturally protective barrier, and you are ready to start using skincare products, remember to stay away from artificial fragrances or colours, parabens, SLS and any nasties. When buying baby products remember to search for natural and organic products and to always read the list of ingredients!
You’ll want to look for a good massage oil to ensure your baby’s skin stays hydrated and smooth, a natural and organic bodywash and shampoo and some bubble bath for some bath time fun! Remember different ingredients have different uses – lavender is meant to have a calming effect and is great if used before bed time as it will help baby sleep, while chamomile is meant to have a soothing effect.
Resist the urge to bath your baby too frequently as this removes the natural oils that protect baby’s skin, leaving it vulnerable and more likely to react to any potential allergens, triggering reactions like eczema. Eczema appears as a red, itchy rash mostly on face and scalp, at elbows and behind the knees and it’s recommended to ask your doctor about lotions and creams to treat this.
The good thing about your baby’s sensitive skin is that your touch on his/her skin has a soothing, nurturing effect and is critical to your baby’s development. So skin to skin contact is always recommended and it helps with bonding too!