Baby > The essentials > Washing your baby > Caring for your baby's skin

Caring for your baby's skin

All you need to know about keeping your baby's skin as smooth as it should be.
As a society we've been so inundated with fancy advertising aimed at new parents that we've been led to believe that our babies need all manner of talcs, washes and fancy creams to help keep their skin soft and smooth. This however couldn't be further from the truth and it's only now that researchers and healthcare professionals are starting to put two and two together and realising that these lotions and potions could in fact be doing our children more harm than good.

Why is that?

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and one that plays a very important role in keeping us healthy. It helps our immune system fight infection by forming a protective barrier against potential irritants and allergens. However, when we're born this 'barrier' aspect is still developing as our skin is thinner and therefore more sensitive to the chemicals and other elements that it's exposed to in the surrounding environment.

A newborn's skin needs time to adapt to the outside world and develop its own protective qualities before it's able to cope with the barrage of new substances that baby products contain. In fact many healthcare professionals now put the 'boom' in eczema, asthma and other allergies that has materialised over the past few years down to the huge increase in the amount of products we use on our children right from birth.

While this can be a little hard to believe, particularly in the face of all the advertising that does its best to make us think that our infants need a whole host of products to keep their skin healthy, it really is the case that for little ones, less is definitely more.

So, to help you keep your little one's skin 'baby soft' the natural way we share our top tips for caring for your baby's skin:
  • Use only water to cleanse your baby's skin for at least the first month - no other creams, wipes or washes are needed. This will give your little one the chance to build up their skin's protective barrier against allergens along with the self-moisturising mechanisms that will help to keep their skin smooth and supple. For premature infants you should extend this 'rule' for a month past their estimated due date as their skin will need a little extra time to develop.

  • Bathe your baby in lukewarm rather than hot water and dab rather than rub the skin dry as this is less dehydrating and will be kinder to developing skin.

  • Two or three baths a week are all your baby needs to stay clean, you can 'top and tail' in between when necessary.

  • Once you start to introduce washes and wipes make sure you go for natural or organic varieties free from perfumes, alcohol and other chemicals that could strip away your baby's natural defences and irritate the skin. Do check the 'ingredients' carefully as many baby products aren't actually as baby-friendly as they seem and contain a whole host of unnecessary additives. Generally, anything that lathers or bubbles should be avoided as this will more than likely be very drying to the skin.

  • Use a natural, non-bio washing powder and fabric softener as your baby's clothes and bed sheets also have the potential to irritate their sensitive skin when they come into contact.

  • Shampoo isn't needed until your baby reaches at least 1 year of age, washing your little one's hair in water and using a comb should help to keep it clean and help prevent cradle cap.

  • Use a simple emollient cream, natural massage oil or plain barrier cream to moisturise your baby's skin but only when they really need it.

What baby products do you use on your baby's skin? Do you find they help keep it baby soft or are they more of an irritant? Share your opinions and experiences with other members on the AskBaby forums

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i bath my babys after lunch and before bedtime.
by VanessaAngela 12th Aug 2010, 10:45am
My son suffers from eczema,there are six of us and only my youngest brother still has it.the rest of us grew out of it before tho i have the odd patch due to stress ,two miscarriages,redundancy money etc. We were told by my doctors to put aqueous cream all over him after a bath.we had bad and good patches.Then three months ago we saw another doctor who had seen a visiting dermotologist who said that aqueous cream can be uses to wash with but to always rinse it off because it aggravates eczema. she prescribed Cetraben and although we use aqueous cream to wash him with we always wash it off.his skin is nowwhat a babies should be and hes three.He always had eczema on his face and people always assumed he had fallen over because it was worse on his forehead.We also use Ecover on our clothes and Skinkind clothes if u can get it.Marks &Spenser used to stock it. it is a blue fabric with silk to help the skin breathe
by suzi2 12th Aug 2010, 10:18am
I used Johnsons body wash on my 1st 2 children and they both had very dry skin. I started using Halos and Horns and it got better quickly. Now on my 3rd baby I use Halos and Horns and he hasn't had any dry skin at all. Halos ans Horns is great because it doesn't have sls and parabens (2 harmful chemicals) that are found in most baby products, yet it doesn't cost the riddiculous amount of money that alot of natural/organic products do. Job done with minimal fuss, and it smells lovely too
by Sasbabie 12th Aug 2010, 9:50am
so what product do u recomend to bathe my baby and what moisturizer
by darky 11th Aug 2010, 5:25pm
i think that a baby should be bathed every and tailing is disgusting and babies get into their routine with a bath befor they are put down to bed.
by alexis26 3rd Dec 2009, 9:36am
I used to bath my son twice a day when he was a baby and used johnson products . He developed eczema a really nasty one. Now i have four months baby she is only having a bath once a week only top and tail using only luke warm water nothing else. So far her skin is okey. I also use moisturiser after bath.
by lavender1 23rd Nov 2009, 11:09am
my baby girl is 7wks old i bathe her everyday twice a day and wash her hair every other that over doing it??I found out as well she has eczema what is the best product to use on her..???i was tol not to use johnson & johnson but the aveeno that is recommended that i am using is by johnson and johnson..isn't that ironic
by Obsession 11th Sep 2009, 3:41pm
my baby is 10weeks old and I wonder is it too often to bathe her every day? She seems too enjoy the routine. We don't use any shampoo just a baby soft wash which I use sparingly.
by mantha41 6th Aug 2009, 10:46am
I have a four month old baby girl. My daughter has developed small white spots on the front side of her body which appear in patches. It's visible now and is the reason of my concern. I don't know if the soap is not suiting her or the cream or if somethingelse is the reason. I would really like to hear from you and would also like to know what brand soaps and creams are good for baby's skin?
by Chinju 10th Jul 2009, 9:13am
Thank you so much for these notes. In fact, with my first baby i used infants shampoo for his head and after a while he had eczema. With so little hair left on his head, i was afraid. But thanks to Allah after some time hair grew again
by sareesa 5th May 2009, 12:24pm
My baby has very dry skin around her ears and forehead ive been using olive oil and in a few days it has cleared up.
by emmadean 6th Apr 2009, 9:27am
I use Gaia products on Riley (5 mths old). They're lovely products, natural, organic and Australian! (woo hoo) In fact, I use their moisture lotion on my own face, their soothing cream on my own hands, and my husband has been known to raid Riley's shampoo too! :)
by Ravenslock 24th Oct 2008, 11:33am