Unlike adult skin, newborn skin is thinner and may not fully mature for up to 12 months. It absorbs and loses water faster, leaving it vulnerable to dryness and irritation. Infant skin can be up to 10 times more sensitive than adult skin, making it prone to conditions like atopic dermatitis and eczema. Here are some factors to keep in mind.
Keep the skin clean from impurities
Especially the nappy area. Water alone is not always enough to clean away harmful irritants in urine and faecal matter which can cause the delicate skin barrier to break down and lead to redness and rashes.
Choose an ultra-mild bath baby wash
Specifically one developed for delicate new born skin – look for pH balanced, alcohol free, dye free, allergy tested and 100 percent soap-free. If the pH level in baby skin gets too high, bacteria is able to grow and causes the skin to break down.
Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
This is one of the most important things mums can do to help maintain hydration levels and prevent babies delicate skin from becoming irritated. Choose an infant specific product such as baby oil which lies on top of the skin, creating a seal, helping to prevent the moisture loss which is greater in newborns.
Be careful about using products from your pantry for moisturising
For example, olive oil. Olive oil is high in oleaic acid which can damage the skin barrier. Pantry products have not passed the rigorous testing needed for use on baby skin and may contain other additives you are unaware of.
Find a protective product to use
The skin barrier is a baby’s first line of defence against allergens and irritants which can lead to sensitivities later in life. Using a protective product such as Desitin on the nappy area can help prevent rashes occurring and promote rapid healing should they occur. During times such as teething, babies are particularly prone to rashes on the cheeks and the bottom.
Attend a Toolbox parenting course
Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.