A baby’s skin

Bringing home a newborn baby brings with it many emotions – excitement, fear apprehension. These emotions are natural. After all your new bundle of joy is totally dependent on you and you want to do everything right so that your baby can have the best.

One aspect that is often not discussed with the new parents is the baby’s skin. A newborn baby’s skin is very delicate and needs to be treated with care.

During the first week of life a baby will shed a layer of skin. This does not mean that a baby has dry skin but rather is the skin transitioning from an amniotic fluid environment to drier air. The skin does not need a moisturizing cream at this time

Dr Jim Mitterando of the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth recommends moisturizing creams not be used in the first month of a baby’s life. He also suggests avoiding baby wipes as they have a drying effect on the newborn’s skin.

Over bathing your baby will remove the skin’s natural oils which are necessary to maintain healthy soft skin. A lack of natural oils will result in dry skin and eczema, although it is rare for a baby to develop eczema before the age of two months and a hereditary component is usually required for eczema to develop.

Dr Mitterando says “Babies do not get very dirty and do not require daily baths. Bathing two or three times per week is sufficient. You can clean the dirtier areas more frequently…”

When bathing your baby it is a good idea to avoid soaps as they can cause dry skin. Use a soap substitute if anything at all. Adding a bath oil to the bath water is also very beneficial as it will prevent the water from drying out the skin by stripping it of its natural oils and help to lock in moisture.

Mel Sinclair, RN