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baby skin

What do you need to know about caring for your baby’s skin?

5 minutes


Velvety soft, perfect and pure – one thing is for sure, your babies’ skin is extremely precious and delicate. To best look after and protect your babies’ skin, it is important to understand what makes it so unique. Here, Dr Cairine Wilkinson, consultant dermatologist and mum of 2 young girls, offers her top tips on babies’ skin and what you need to know about looking after it.

Skin: The largest organ, but with lots of jobs

Skin is quite extraordinary. It is actually the largest organ in the body and has three main jobs: protection, regulation and sensation. Skin acts as a barrier and prevents infections from irritants and allergens; with babies, their skin is a little bit more sensitive. Baby’s skin develops throughout the first year of their life and reacts to the environment as they grow and explore, so it is important to look after their skin so it can perform all these jobs properly. Make sure you use skincare products on your little one designed for babies; such as fragrance free lotions, wipes and bath gels. Be careful to check the ingredients they contain on the back of the pack.

Understanding your baby’s skin

At birth, the outer layer of a baby’s skin is around 30% thinner, which means it can react more sensitively to some products. It is also less firmly attached to other deeper layers of skin, so has a higher tendency to lose moisture. This means it can be a less effective skin barrier and for example, when you bathe your baby, the water and soap you use can cause the skin to dry out. With this in mind, it is important to keep your baby’s skin moisturized.

As your baby grows so does their skin!

Proper cleaning of your baby’s skin can help promote friendly bacteria, which is important in guarding against invading bacteria.

As your baby develops, they will begin to sit up, crawl and explore but will also take an interest in trying different foods, likely to cause a bit of a mess! When cleaning your baby try to remove as much leftover milk, food as well as snot and dribble, as possible. If these are left on the skin, it can cause irritation and skin rashes. Your child’s overall health also depends on keeping their skin free of harmful bacteria, found in wee and poo, which causes irritation and can lead to more harmful infection if transferred to the mouth.

Cleaning and caring for your baby’s skin

Babies’ skin needs to be looked after without inducing dryness or irritation. Although it’s fine to bathe your baby every day, especially if your baby has baby eczema, bathing them three times a week is enough to keep their skin clean. It is also fine to clean away dirt and bacteria with a wipe as bathing too frequently can remove the natural oils that protect baby’s skin. Make sure you focus on those hard to reach areas, and get into the folds of baby skin around the armpits, under their neck, knees, and legs, behind ears, toes, and genitals. As they grow and explore look for a water based baby wipe product that is pure and gentle but effective at cleaning. I use WaterWipes for Weaning on my little ones.

Nappy rash happens!

Nappy rash is something that most babies experience. The skin on your baby’s bottom is sensitive and delicate, so nappy rash is a normal part of life. It might seem obvious, but leaving a wet or dirty nappy on for longer than necessary is the primary cause of nappy rash and irritation, and other common causes include the other ingredients and chemicals that the skin comes into contact with – this could include washing powders, fragranced lotions, and baby wipes. Thankfully, nappy rash usually disappears within a week, and you can buy cream from your pharmacy to help clear it up. You can also help baby’s skin by using only the purest ingredients such as cotton wool and cooled, boiled water on their skin, or if you prefer the convenience of a wipe, an option like WaterWipes biodegradable baby wipes offers a suitable alternative.

Keep an eye out for common skin rashes

A baby’s skin is prone to rashes of all sorts. From cradle cap, to baby acne, most baby-skin problems are harmless and go away on their own. Babies also often get eczema, which shows up as patches of red, dry and itchy skin on the face or behind the ears, and in the creases of the neck, knees and elbows. Make sure you regularly check your baby’s skin and if your baby has any rashes like eczema you can try washing your baby’s face with water and applying an unperfumed moisturiser to keep the skin moist.

Remember, if you are unsure or concerned about any markings you notice on your baby’s skin, or your baby has a persistent rash like baby eczema, visit your GP.