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More than skin deep: 5 things you should know about caring for your newborn’s skin

5 minutes

11/09/2020

In the first few months’ of their lives, a baby’s skin is constantly developing. At birth, their skin’s significantly thinner and more vulnerable than it will be later in life, meaning they’re more likely to experience irritations and sensitivities and they rely on us to help to keep them comfortable.

Luckily, newborn’s skin can be looked after with some simple tricks and hygiene steps – it isn’t as scary as it sounds! Here, we’ve outlined 5 of the most important things you should know when looking after your newborn’s skin.

Skin can change throughout the seasons

As a newborn’s skin is thinner than ours, they’re also more sensitive to seasonal changes – particularly as we come into spring and summer. While we’re great at adjusting to changes in temperature, newborns and babies need a little more help.

In spring, the constant changes in temperature, dry conditions and pollen can cause itchiness and irritation for your littlies’ skin. Spring time is also full of triggers for eczema – which we’ll discuss in more depth later.

As it gets warmer, newborns are reliant on us to keep them cool. Babies’ sweat glands don’t start functioning properly until several weeks after birth, so babies aren’t able to naturally cool themselves down like we can. Because of this, heat rashes are common over the summer months – often seen as small red bumps on the face, neck, arms, legs and upper chest. The great news is that despite being a little uncomfortable, heat rashes aren’t a major cause for concern and will usually go away on their own. To maximise airflow and help to keep their skin comfortable during summer, try loose-fitting clothing in natural fibres like cotton or linen, and cut down on the time your baby spends wrapped in a sling or carrier.

Eczema is common, but it can be easily treated

While eczema can appear unnerving, it’s actually more common than you might think. An American Academy of Dermatology study found that 10 – 20% of children have atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.

Eczema is simply a type of recurrent skin inflammation that gives your baby dry, inflamed and red skin that can be quite itchy. Common areas it can affect include the folds of skin on the back of baby’s knees and elbows, as well as on their neck, wrists, eyelids and nappy areas. It’s important to keep an eye out for eczema, but try not to panic if you do spot it as it doesn’t necessarily cause your baby any pain.

A treatment plan with your family doctor or a skin specialist should be able to clear it up with medicated ointments and creams, but you can also make efforts to avoid any triggers of eczema at home. Try not to use too much soap, scented bubble baths, or shampoos, and be mindful of grass, sand, pollen, dust mites and animal hair. WaterWipes are a great option for eczema-prone baby skin. Free of any of the harsh fragrances or chemicals that can trigger eczema, the pure wipes clean effectively while being gentle on baby’s skin.

Bathing is important – but not everyday

While it can feel like you have to bath your newborn everyday to keep them as clean as possible, excessive bathing can do more harm than good. Newborns aren’t like us – they don’t toil and sweat – so bathing them everyday is unnecessary and can actually cause their skin to dry out. Many health experts agree that bathing just three times a week is fine for newborns from a hygiene perspective if you’re cleaning your newborn between nappy changes. WaterWipes are a great ‘in-between baths’ option, providing a quick and easy clean. Water is a natural cleanser, while the drop of fruit extract helps to maintain healthy skin. Not only may less bathing be better for baby’s skin, it also means there’s less to fit in before bedtime, so more time for cuddles!

Nappy rash is normal

For most, nappy rash is a normal part of the cycle of looking after your babies’ skin. The skin on their bottoms is delicate, so nappy rash is a common experience. In fact, up to a third of babies and toddlers in nappies can have nappy rash at any one time – so don’t be hard on yourself, or doubt what you’re doing if your baby does experience it!

Nappy rash is characterised by a red bottom, and can be either patches of red or the whole area. The skin will likely feel hot to touch and look pretty sore. In more extreme cases, you might notice spots, pimples or blisters. The irritation is commonly caused by the skin being in contact with wee or poo for a long time, nappies not being changed often enough, or the area not being properly cleaned in between changes. It can also be caused by the use of soaps, detergents or bubble baths on skin, as well as alcohol-based or strongly fragranced wipes.

The best thing is to avoid the use of these triggers and ensure enough fresh air gets to the skin by allowing your baby to have time with their nappy off. If you’re following these hygiene tips, nappy rash should go away on its own. If it isn’t, or is getting worse, check in with your family doctor who’ll be able to provide you with creams or medicine to clear it up quickly.

Less is more when it comes to products

It’s often what you don’t put on your baby’s skin that matters more than what you do. Many of the common newborn skin problems discussed in this article – eczema, nappy rash and other irritations – can be caused or aggravated by excessive product use. Alcohol-based products, strongly fragranced wipes or heavy soaps and bubble baths often cause more harm than good, despite what the packaging might suggest!

When it comes to a newborn’s skin, less really is more. WaterWipes were developed with that in mind – and contain 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract to act as a natural skin conditioner. WaterWipes are purer than cotton wool and water, as validated by the Skin Heath Alliance. They’re perfect for everyday use in between nappy changes and baths, and will provide the peace of mind that you’re doing the best you can for your baby.

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