The skin of a healthy term newborn baby is 30% thinner than that of adults, loses 6 X as much water and produces fewer natural moisturising factors.
This makes infant skin more fragile, more vulnerable, more predisposed to water loss, and more prone to pathogen and allergen entry.
A broken skin can lead to allergies and infections and excessive water loss. Many long-term issues such as eczema start with a leaky, broken skin barrier.
We need to take this into account when planning our cleaning and skin care regimes. Some tips on maintaining a healthy skincare regime in babies:
- Avoid harsh soap and try to minimise products containing SLS (Sodium laurel sulphates)
- Avoid highly coloured or fragranced skin products. Some lightly fragranced products which conform to international safe-fragrancing standards are acceptable, but generally not if your little one already has skin issues.
- Bath your baby in a water temperature of 35-37 °C using a bland glycerine soap or SLS-free gentle cleanser, or use a bland moisturiser as a soap-substitute.
- After the bath use a bland, emollient-rich moisturiser (be careful of pure “aqueous cream”- this is water based and often contains SLS’s. Look for something which also contains lipids and glycerine).
- Generally use soft, cotton-dominant clothes. For the first 5-6 moths, the baby needs an extra layer of clothing in comparison to what you need, because it loses heat more rapidly.