Baby Skin Care: Tips for Your Newborn
Newborn Dry Skin: Eczema
Most newborn skin problems, such as eczema or diaper rash, don't develop for the first month or two. Eczema appears as a red, itchy rash mostly on face and scalp, at the elbows, and behind the knees.
A few tips on preventing dry, irritated skin and eczema:
- Try once-a-week bathing to allow skin to retain natural oils.
- Limit your use of baby skin products. If necessary, use only a small amount of lotion on dry skin areas.
- Make sure baby wears only soft clothing.
When baby has an allergic reaction, the result can be a rash. Rashes under the diaper can actually be eczema and not a diaper rash. An allergy to dyes in the diapers themselves can cause this reaction. Switching to dye-free diapers may be all that's needed to prevent future outbreaks.
Check with your pediatrician about using over-the-counter lotions or creams to treat eczema. You may need a prescription treatment.
Baby Skin Care: Diaper Rash
Most often, diaper rash is caused by the irritating wetness of a soiled diaper. The rash can also develop when baby's skin is not properly dried after a bath. Sometimes, a bacteria or yeast infection will cause diaper rash. Babies taking antibiotics are especially susceptible to a yeast infection diaper rash because the drugs allow fungal growth.
Most forms of diaper rash don't require medical care. To treat diaper rash -- and prevent further newborn skin problems:
- Check diapers frequently.
- Change diapers immediately when wet or soiled.
- Wash the diaper area with mild fragrance-free cleanser or plain water. If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle to cleanse without rubbing.
- Use a soft clean cloth, not baby wipes. The perfume or alcohol in some wipes can further irritate and dry baby's skin.
- Pat baby dry. Don't rub. Let the diaper area air-dry fully before putting on a fresh diaper.
- Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) or a protective ointment like Desitin or A&D.
- If using baby powder, take care to keep it away from baby's face. The talc or cornstarch in the powder can cause breathing problems.
See your pediatrician if the rash doesn't clear up in two to three days. If the rash is caused by eczema, a bacterial or yeast infection, or other condition, you may need a prescription treatment.
Newborn Skin Soaks Up Calming Touch
Giving your newborn a massage is important one-on-one time. Like cuddling, a massage is a way to convey your love and affection for your baby. In fact, research shows that a baby's very survival depends on being touched by others -- as touch triggers hormones, boosts immunity, and helps fight disease. Also, massaged babies are calmer, sleep better, and cry less -- every parent's dream!
There's no special technique to massaging a baby. Find a carpeted floor in a warm room. Simply lay baby on a soft blanket or fabric. Get a little baby oil or a gentle lotion. Warm it in your hand. Then gently massage baby's chest and tummy -- using a gentle yet firm touch. Try to make eye contact and talk to your baby. Sing softly.
If there's any fussing, baby may not be ready for a massage. Or the massage may be too forceful, so use a gentler touch. It's the time spent together that's most important.