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Do You Know What You’re Putting on Your Baby?

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Your baby’s skin is smooth, soft, and highly delicate. “A baby’s skin is thinner and has less hair, so it’s more fragile than yours,” says Pamela Jakubowicz, MD, dermatologist at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  So how you care for your baby’s skin is very important. Here are some guidelines for keeping your baby’s skin healthy.

If your child has sensitive skin:

  • Steer clear of products that have fragrances and perfumes.  
  • Avoid dryer sheets or fabric softeners, which leave a film on clothing and can irritate tender infant skin. 
  • Stay away from shampoo or washes made with sodium lauryl sulfate, which tend to burn children's eyes. 

If your infant gets cradle cap, a build-up of scales on the scalp, apply a little mineral oil to the scalp and gently brush away the thick scales with a very soft-bristle brush or toothbrush, suggests Jakubowicz.

Soaps and Anti-Bacterial Products

Avoid deodorant soaps meant for adults, they are harsh and too drying on a baby's skin. Although they may not lather as well, try milder liquid or bar products that will be labeled “cleansing bar” or “skin cleanser.” “Babies aren’t sweating, you don’t have to use anything harsh to get its skin clean,” says Jakubowicz.

Avoid using anti-bacterial products. They tend to dry out a baby's gentle skin. Also, regular use of anti-bacterial household products may actually increase the possibility that the germs they are meant to kill will eventually become more resistant to these products, and harder to kill.

Although bubble bath products may make bath time more fun for children, they tend to dry skin out. Be sure to use a bubble bath that is mild enough for frequent use. Using a moisturizer after bathing can also help avoid dry skin.

Moisturizers and Sun Protection

Stick to creams, ointment, and emollient moisturizers instead of lotions. “If it comes in a tube, it’s usually more effective,” says Jakubowicz. Avoid products that list alcohol in the ingredients. Alcohol tends to produce a drying effect that's counterproductive to moisturizing.

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