Your baby has delicate, sensitive skin and you need to be gentle and consistent to ensure it stays healthy. But don’t worry, this is not complicated stuff. In fact, less is definitely more when it comes to your baby’s skin care. Here’s a look at all you need to know about taking care of your baby’s skin and tackling some common skin-care problems.1
1. Bathe Your Baby Thrice A Week Initially
When babies are really young, they don’t need a daily bath – thrice a week should be enough to keep them clean. In fact, frequent bathing may lead to dry skin. But though you should avoid a full body bath, make sure to check problem areas like the diaper area and around the mouth frequently and clean them with a wet washcloth as needed. You may also need to clean skin folds such as those in the armpits, thighs, groin area, and those cute dimpled double chins daily.
Once your baby starts crawling and exploring the world, you’ll find that they get a lot more messy. That’s when you’ll need to start giving daily baths.2 3 Ayurvedic practitioners recommend a gentle massage for about 10–15 minutes with a natural oil such as sesame oil or coconut oil before giving your baby a bath.4 This will improve circulation, keep skin supple, and minimize skin problems.
2. Use Natural Plant Oils To Combat Dry Skin
Dry skin is a fairly common problem in babies. Here’s what you can do to tackle this:
- Limiting bath time and avoiding daily baths till your baby needs them can help. Also, use lukewarm water to bathe your baby. Hot water can strip away skin oils and should be avoided.
- Avoid soap and use gentle soap-free cleansers formulated for babies. Look for cleansing products designed for babies which are mild and don’t damage the barrier function of the skin. Also, steer clear of products with fragrance or alcohol.5
- Apply a natural plant oil as a moisturizer after your baby’s bath to keep the moisture locked in and tackle dry skin. Virgin coconut oil and sunflower oil are good options.6
3. Use Chamomile And Coconut Oil For Diaper Rash
Diaper rash is a common problem seen in babies and can cause your child’s skin to become red, tender, and scaly. Irritation caused by the diaper rubbing against your baby’s skin or poop can cause a rash. So can sensitivity to soaps, detergent, baby wipes, or diapers. A common cause of diaper rash is infection by a yeast known as candida. Some simple measures can help you tackle and even prevent diaper rashes:
[pullquote]It’s best to do a patch test before applying herbal products or natural plant oils on your baby’s skin to make sure that they are not allergic to it.[/pullquote]
- Ideally, diapers should be changed every couple of hours or so. And they need to be changed immediately when they get soiled or wet. Remember to clean the diaper area with a gentle soap and pat dry.
- Allow your baby to go diaper-free for a few hours a day so that irritated skin can breathe and dry on its own. Waterproof sheets in the crib or a towel laid out on the floor can give your baby some room to roam diaper-free.
- If you use cloth diapers, rinse properly while washing to remove all traces of detergent. If your baby appears to be sensitive to a particular diaper brand, try switching to something else.
- Ointments with petroleum jelly or zinc oxide have been found to be soothing and can help fend off moisture. They are often recommended after changing diapers for tackling a rash. But if you prefer a natural salve, aloe vera gel or calendula cream or tea can work just as well.7 Evening primrose oil can also help. Chamomile and coconut oil are other options to try as they act against candida – apply coconut oil or diluted chamomile tea to affected areas to clear up the rash.8 9 10
4. Use Light Cotton Clothing And Avoid Pore-Blocking Creams/Powders To Prevent Heat Rash
When the weather is humid or hot, your baby may get a heat rash. This happens because your baby’s sweat gland pores get blocked and can’t clear out sweat. Here’s what you should do in this case:
- Aim to keep your baby dry and cool when it is hot. Fans or air conditioning can help you do this.
- Use light, loose cotton clothes for your baby when it is warm. Cotton is a natural absorbent fabric when can help keep your baby’s skin dry.
- Steer clear of skin creams and powders. Creams can clog up pores while powders, contrary to popular belief, do not really help heat rash.11
5. Try A Colloidal Oat Bath Or Apply Sunflower Or Coconut Oil For Eczema
Eczema can cause thickened, dry, scaly skin with blisters. This typically appears on the baby’s cheeks, forehead, or scalp though it may spread to other body parts. While all babies aren’t prone to eczema, this condition often develops in babies with allergies or those with a family history of eczema or allergies. Here are some natural remedies that can help this condition:
- Try adding colloidal oats to your baby’s bathwater if they have eczema. Oats turns into a gooey substance when its mixed with water. It can then coat your baby’s skin and prevent the loss of moisture.12
- Sunflower oil may help with eczema too. This oil enhances the barrier function of the skin and can prevent dryness. In fact, a study found that when it was applied once a day on babies at high risk for eczema, it had a protective effect.13
- Another natural oil which can be useful for tackling eczema is coconut oil. According to a study, applying coconut oil after bathing and at night for 8 weeks improved this condition by 68% in babies.14
6. A Gentle Shampoo Can Tackle Cradle Cap
Those crusty, yellowish or brown, thick scales that you commonly see on the scalp of babies is cradle cap. And here’s how you deal with it:
- Use your fingers to gently massage your baby’s scalp and loosen scales. A soft brush can also help you do this.
- Use a mild shampoo or ayurvedic herbal cleanser to gently clean off the scales.
- In case, you find it difficult to loosen the scales and wash them off, apply mineral oil to the scalp about an hour or so before shampooing. This can help get the scales loose. It’s best to avoid using natural oils like coconut oil or olive oil on your baby’s scalp when they have cradle cap. This is because these natural oils can feed a yeast known as malassezia which is associated with cradle cap.15 16 17
|↑1||Canadian Paediatric Society, “Skin care for your baby”. Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Mar; 12(3): 245–247.|
|↑2||Bathing Your Newborn. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑3||To Bathe or Not to Bathe. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑4||Venkat, Kumar. Rasayana for Childcare: Joy of Herbs and Healing. Partridge Publishing, 2015.|
|↑5||Lavender, Tina, Carol Bedwell, Stephen A. Roberts, Anna Hart, Mark A. Turner, Lesley‐Anne Carter, and Michael J. Cork. “Randomized, controlled trial evaluating a baby wash product on skin barrier function in healthy, term neonates.” Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing 42, no. 2 (2013): 203-214.|
|↑6||Dry skin. Raising Children Network.|
|↑7||Loo, May. Integrative Medicine For Children. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2009.|
|↑8||Jones, Cindy LA. Herbs for Healthy Skin. Mushroom Publishing, 2001.|
|↑9||Shino , Beena, Faizal C. Peedikayil, Shyamala R. Jaiprakash, Gufran Ahmed Bijapur, Soni Kottayi, and Deepak Jose. “Comparison of antimicrobial activity of chlorhexidine, coconut oil, probiotics, and ketoconazole on Candida albicans isolated in children with early childhood caries: an in vitro study.” Scientifica 2016 (2016).|
|↑10||Aggag, M. E., and R. T. Yousef. “Study of antimicrobial activity of chamomile oil.” Planta medica 22, no. 06 (1972): 140-144.|
|↑11||Babies and heat rashes. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑12||Fowler Jr, Joseph F. “Colloidal oatmeal formulations and the treatment of atopic dermatitis.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD 13, no. 10 (2014): 1180-3.|
|↑13||Simpson, Eric L., Joanne R. Chalmers, Jon M. Hanifin, Kim S. Thomas, Michael J. Cork, WH Irwin McLean, Sara J. Brown, Zunqiu Chen, Yiyi Chen, and Hywel C. Williams. “Emollient enhancement of the skin barrier from birth offers effective atopic dermatitis prevention.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 134, no. 4 (2014): 818-823.|
|↑14||Evangelista, Mara Therese Padilla, Flordeliz Abad‐Casintahan, and Lillian Lopez‐Villafuerte. “The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double‐blind, clinical trial.” International journal of dermatology 53, no. 1 (2014): 100-108.|
|↑15||Cradle cap. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑16||Siegfried, Elaine, and Erica Glenn. “Use of olive oil for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in children.” Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 166, no. 10 (2012): 967-967.|
|↑17||Vijayakumar, R., C. Muthukumar, T. Kumar, and R. Saravanamuthu. “Characterization of Malassezia Furfur and its control by using plant extracts.” Indian journal of Dermatology 51, no. 2 (2006): 145.|