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:
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
- 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.