Imagine living inside a place with the perfect temperature, PH, and environment for your skin, only then to enter a world of cold, heat, nappies, creams and clothes! It’s no wonder there is a lot of advice needed when it comes to newborn skincare, and many common issues that can arise.
Baby skincare starts in the womb when the baby's skin is coated with a protective layer called vernix. Think about how your skin might look if you were sitting in a lovely warm bath for 9 months, pickled would be an understatement! Vernix prevents the amniotic fluid from pickling or chapping your baby's skin.
When babies are born, some of this white coating will likely remain on their skin. While you might be tempted to rub it off for your first mummy and baby selfie, the best thing you can do is try and leave the vernix on the skin. It hydrates and protects their skin, like mother nature's best protective moisturiser. It's also best to try to delay your baby's first bath for a day or two. It might even be something you want noted on your birth plan.
The vernix can also protect a newborn from infections after birth. This is because the coating contains antioxidants, as well as anti-infection and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also thought it might help to naturally stabilise the baby's body temperature.
So when your baby is born, ask your midwife to use a soft cloth to gently remove any traces of blood and amniotic fluid from your baby's skin, while not removing excess amounts of the vernix. Over the next one to two days, you can gently massage the coating into your baby’s skin.
When it is time for your baby's first bath, there is no need for bubbles, even products that say ‘newborn approved’ can be irritating to a baby's skin in the early days. Your baby only needs a bath 2-3 times per week, and it's best to just use water for the first few weeks. In fact, bathing your baby more than this might actually irritate their skin by drying it out and removing the natural oils that protect your baby's skin.
After the first few weeks, for cleansing, you can try an organic chemical free newborn wash. Regular soap is two harsh and can dry out baby's skin. You also don’t need to use shampoo in your baby's hair, simply comb through any dry bits gently with a comb.
If you are breastfeeding, adding expressed breastmilk to the bath can help with skin irritations or flare-ups. Grinding up oats for the bath can also soothe skin that is red or itchy.
Another common skincare issue in the early days is cradle cap. This is nothing to worry about as it is simply caused by a buildup of dry skin and natural oils on your baby's scalp. You can use almond or olive oil to soften your baby's skin before gently brushing off dry flakes.
When it comes to laundry, using a non-bio detergent for washing their clothes is a good idea, non-bio products don't have enzymes in them which can be irritating to baby's skin. It's also a good idea to wash new clothes before your baby wears them to remove any chemicals or dust.
One of the most common skincare issues, not just with newborns, but with babies in general is nappy rash. This can get quite raw and cracked quickly and can be painful for your little one. One of the best things you can do is allow plenty of nappy-free time - not only will this be great for their skin, but it also aids gross motor development by making it easier to move around and practice new skills like rolling or stretching.
Many parents would attest to letting their skin breathe as the best thing for keeping nappy rash at bay. Just like tummy time this can become part of a baby's daily routine.
Understandably, some parents might avoid nappy free time because of the inevitable accidents. If this sounds like you, then something like the Luxe Nappy-Free mats are the solution. They are 100% organic double quilted cotton, your baby will love how super soft they are. The best and most practical thing is they have a waterproof centre so will absorb almost anything, so no mess on the floor, and they are machine washable.
It's also important to make sure you change your baby's nappy often, try to avoid baby wipes until your baby is around 4 weeks old. A few drops of olive oil on cotton wool are great for getting rid of stubborn poop explosion remains!
Using a barrier cream can help protect against nappy rash, coconut oil or aloe vera can be quite soothing too. But you only need a thin layer, if you use too much it prevents urine from being absorbed into the nappy. A few drops of expressed breastmilk because of its antibacterial and healing properties can also work wonders. Also sprinkling some cornflour into your baby's nappy can get rid of rawness surprisingly quickly.
If your baby has any dry patches of skin you can use an emollient, it's important to make sure anything you use is free from alcohol, perfumes and colours. You can combine moisturising your baby's skin with giving them a gentle baby massage, it’s lovely one on one time, and touch and contact is really important - it triggers hormones and boosts immunity, and massaged babies can be calmer and sleep better.
You could try a baby massage on your toddlekind mat combining it with nappy free time. It's simple, just lay them on your mat, gently massage, making eye contact, and singing will help with the bonding process.
For all the expensive baby skincare products out there the best thing is free, fresh air. So take that nappy off, and remember to keep it simple. While a lot of money and clever targeted marketing is spent on catching your eye on the supermarket aisles, most of the solutions are simple and natural, and in general less is more.
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