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Baby Skin Care: Tips for Your Newborn

Your newborn is home now, and you're settling into a daily routine. Keeping your baby warm and nourished is tops on your list. Baby skin care is just as important.

Newborn skin is delicate -- and so is the baby's immune system. Chemicals, fragrances, and dyes in clothing, detergents, and baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes. However, there's much you can do to protect your baby from these skin problems.

The upside to baby's skin sensitivity? Your touch on your newborn's skin has a soothing, nurturing effect -- and is critical to your baby's development.

Natural Baby Skin Care

A newborn baby is born with wrinkly skin and a protective covering called vernix that naturally peels off during the first week. There's no need to rush it, rub it, or treat it with lotions or creams. (If baby is born past the due date, this process is likely finished while she is still inside the womb.)

With newborn skin care, the adage is "less is more." Here are tips to help protect your baby from developing allergies and rashes:

Resist the urge to bathe your baby frequently. Too-frequent bathing -- more than three times per week during the first year of life -- removes the natural oils that protect baby's skin. That may leave baby's skin vulnerable and dry. It may also aggravate eczema.

Except for drool and diaper changes, newborns don't get very dirty. Babies aren’t working 9 to 5 and hitting the gym afterward! For the first month or so, a sponge bath two or three times a week will keep your baby safely clean. In between, simply clean baby’s mouth and diaper area with a little water or cleanser.

Once-a-week sponge baths (or even less) are best for newborns with darker skin tones (like African-American). These infants tend to have dryer skin and have a higher risk of skin problems such as eczema.

Don't use Scented baby products in the early months. This can irritate your baby's delicate skin.

Wash baby's clothing before it's worn. Use only baby laundry detergents that are fragrance- and dye-free. Wash baby clothes, bedding, and blankets separately from the family's laundry.

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