Article by Victoria Crombie
Your newborn baby has soft, sensitive, precious brand new skin. Caring for this delicate skin is another important aspect of being a parent and meeting your baby’s needs. Many parents choose natural and organic baby skin care products because they don’t contain some potential skin irritants.
A newborn baby’s skin is very different to our own adult skin. Baby skin is much more fragile and thinner (5 times thinner infact) than adult skin and as a result they will absorb some of the substances within baby skin care products. This makes using organic and natural baby skin care products all the more important.
The most common skin irritants in baby skincare products are perfumes (particularly products that just list ‘fragrance’ as this is probably synthetic), preservatives (particularly parabens) and artificial colours. If you like some fragrance opt for delicately fragranced products or use baby skin care products that are fragranced with natural (and preferable organic) essential oils.
The clever marketing of big skin care companies would have us believe that we can only be good parents if we buy a whole range of skin care products (theirs, of course) and our babies will be content and have beautifully blemish free skin like those babies on the ads. However, you may find that during the first few months (or longer) your baby may suffer with a variety of skin conditions such as baby acne, baby eczema or dry skin.
Often, piling on chemically laden skincare products can make things worse. You’ll generally find that continuing good hygiene habits, letting nature take its course and following the key points of caring for newborn skin (below) things will get better on their own. Of course if a condition persists or doesn’t seem right contact your health care provider.
Key Points for looking after newborn baby skin include:
Keep things simple – just use water for bathing and keep skin care range to the minimal
Use fragrance free products for at least the first 2 months
Try and use single ingredient products like olive oil or shea butter
There’s not need to bathe baby daily as long as the nappy area is thoroughly clean at every change.
Try not to over use nappy creams.
Moisturising your baby’s skin
A newborn baby’s skin can be very dry in those first few weeks, particularly around the ankles and wrists. The best way of keeping baby’s skin soft and moisturised is to use a natural vegetable oil like olive or almond oil. Of course an organic oil is preferable but just using some olive oil from your kitchen in the baby’s bath will nourish skin with essential fatty acids and vitamins to help to keep skin soft. Avoid using a mineral oil (check the labels on commercially available Baby Oil as many manufacturers use mineral oil).
Shea butter and natural baby balms, as well as highly nourishing natural balms used for nipple care for breastfeeding mums, can also be used to provide extra nourishment for dry skin areas. When choosing moisturising creams and lotions take care to choose ones with high levels of natural ingredients (such as vegetable oils and shea butter) and low in fragrance.
Bathing your Newborn
Plain water is best for the first few weeks (or with a few drops of vegetable oil). Soap isn’t really needed – after all how dirty do they get? Soap can also strip baby skin of protective oils which can leave the skin sensitive and easily irritated. Once soap is needed avoid highly foaming products – foaming agents are synthetic and can cause irritation – and fragrance.
Caring for your Baby’s Bottom
Be aware that the products you use on your baby’s bottom can potentially cause irritation and contribute to nappy rash. Chemically laden creams, lotions, wipes and nappies simply aren’t good for your baby’s skin and just think your baby is wearing a nappy 24 hours a day for at least 2 years.
Cotton wool and plain water really is the best thing for cleaning a newborn baby’s bottom. Wipes are convenient when out and about but really are unnecessary and can be packed with chemicals and fragrance which can irritate you baby’s skin.
Powders aren’t really needed but if you want to use them avoid talcum powder and opt instead for cornstarch – gently shake some powder onto your hands and then apply to baby’s skin and prevent baby from breathing in small powder particles.
Baby Clothing and Bedding
Natural fibres are breathable and are the best but just because they are natural fibres doesn’t mean they aren’t coated in chemicals! Cotton is one of the world’s most sprayed crops. The pesticides used during growth and the chemicals, dyes, and fixatives used during the process and manufacture of a garment can remain on the clothing even after washing. For your delicate newborn organic cotton clothing and bedding really is the best choice. Or combine with fabulous bamboo baby clothing and bed linen (be sure of the eco-credentials so you know chemicals haven’t been used during manufacture).
Wash baby’s clothes and bedding in a gentle detergent – choose an eco-friendly brand like EcoStore, Ecover or Seventh Generation. The eco-friendly detergents are less likely to irritate baby’s soft and sensitive skin as they don’t use harsh synthetic chemicals, chlorine bleaches or perfumes. Plus they are better for the environment and you can use the grey water for your garden.
Related articles can be found at www.downtoearthbaby.com
BSc, MSc, Owner Down to Earth Baby
2 Aug 2010
Article/Information supplied by Victoria Crombie
Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.