Baby skin care: Useful tips
Here are our top tips for looking after your baby’s skin.
- Change your baby or toddler’s nappy as quickly as possible when it’s dirty, as prolonged contact with wee and poo can cause irritation and nappy rash.
- Keep newborn babies out of the sun. You should keep babies younger than six months old out of direct sunlight, and when they’re older use a parasol or sunshade to protect them. You should also apply sunscreen to their skin of at least SPF 30 and reapply it regularly. Because babies cannot regulate their body temperature very well, keeping them out of the sun also helps to stop them from becoming too warm and overheating.
- Cold, dry air in the winter can also irritate your baby’s skin, especially if they have a pre-existing condition like eczema. That means in the winter you need to make sure they keep warm and protected from the wind.
- When choosing products to use on your baby’s skin, make sure they don’t contain fragrances, dyes, and other chemicals as these can irritate them.
- Let your baby’s skin “breathe” by having some clothing and nappy-free time. After applying a nappy cream, let your baby sit without their nappy for a while to let air get to their skin.
It’s also important to take care when washing and cleaning your baby. When you’re bathing your baby, make sure you use warm (not hot) water to wash them and don’t use soaps or bubble baths until they’re older (4 to 6 weeks). Clean your baby with water, making sure to clean in the folds of skin around their neck, wrists and thighs where milk can often get trapped and cause irritation.
Once your baby is clean, pat their skin dry with a soft, fresh towel. Don’t rub at their skin, as this can irritate it.
You can start to use baby shampoo from 4 to 6 weeks. Make sure you only use a very little shampoo (around the size of a pea) at this stage. As your baby grows and gets more hair, you can use more. Make sure you choose a specialised baby shampoo that does not contain harsh chemicals or dyes and is fragrance free. If your baby has developed cradle cap on their scalp, you might find that using a gentle baby shampoo helps to ease the symptoms.
Once they’re dry, you can dress them in clean clothes. If your baby’s skin is very dry and you’ve been advised by your doctor or health care visitor to use a moisturiser on their skin, right after they’ve had a bath and their skin is a little damp is a great time to apply it, as it can help trap moisture.
Baby skin care: which products to choose?
When you’re looking for products to use on your baby’s skin, it can feel overwhelming. When you’re shopping for baby skin care products, there’s a few things you can keep in mind.
Check the ingredients before you put anything on your baby’s skin. Baby products should not contain artificial fragrances, chemicals or dyes and only use natural ingredients. Some baby creams and ointments may be enriched with vitamins – check the ingredients and packaging to see what’s available and might best suit your baby’s needs.
Avoid products like contain alcohol (for example, alcohol-based wipes). When you’re using new products, keep an eye out for signs of an allergic reaction such as a rash, hives or eczema.
If your baby has dry skin, there are a lot of moisturisers that may help. Baby creams and lotions have emollient properties – this means they soothe and hydrate dry skin while trapping in moisture. Your doctor or pharmacist might recommend you use an emollient on your baby’s skin if they develop eczema (which tends to look like a red, itchy rash) or other skin irritations.
If your baby develops nappy rash and it’s causing them distress, your pharmacist or family doctor can help with advice and product recommendations. In some cases, your doctor may give you a prescription if their rash is particularly severe.
It’s also important to think about the products you’re using elsewhere. For example, you should think about what sort of detergent you’re washing laundry with, as harsh chemicals may irritate their skin. Make sure you wash towels, clothing and bedding with detergent that doesn’t contain dyes or fragrances.
To help prevent nappy rash from happening in the first place, you can use a barrier cream like Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment at every nappy change. Bepanthen works by forming a barrier to protect your baby’s skin against irritants and rubbing, and contains Provitamin B5 which gently aids natural recovery of sensitive skin, while keeping it soft, smooth and moisturised.