5 essential questions on diaper rash

New parents: raise your hand if you’ve ever felt guilty after finding a rash on your newborn’s perfect skin. 

While we’d all love to keep our babies’ skin flawless forever, there’s no way to completely avoid minor skin problems in your newborn, including diaper rash. In this Facebook Live event, supported by Balmex, I address your most pressing questions about newborn skin and diaper rash. If you’d like to see the whole Facebook Live, scroll to the end and enjoy!

How is newborn skin different than older baby skin?

They are new! Every substance, whether it’s natural or manmade, is new to your baby’s skin. They might react differently than you do. They may be more sensitive. As they are exposed to things, the newborn’s skin changes a lot. You might see little rashes come and go, so that’s why we baby it. In some ways, however, newborn skin is the same as adult skin, especially around the diaper area. It can get irritated when it comes into contact with stool or urine, which is wet and has a different pH than skin. This is where diaper rash comes from. It’s actually a contact dermatitis.

Is there a better kind of diaper?

A lot of it is a personal choice, to be honest. A lot of babies seem to react better with a different brand of diaper, and it doesn’t have to be the most expensive brand of diaper. Sometimes a bargain diaper is the best choice. The same thing is true of wipes. They are an amazing convenience, but again it’s a new substance and can potentially cause a reaction. Sometimes parents have to skip wipes for a while or change wipes.

How can I prevent diaper rash with my newborn? Do breastfed babies have less diaper rash than formula-fed babies?

The pH of the stool produced by a breastfed baby is less than a formula-fed baby. That being said, there are lots of formula-fed babies out there who have never had a diaper rash and vice versa. So that’s something you want to take into account. Beyond that, when you first bring your baby home, they’ll pass meconium. It’s sticky and gooey and looks like old motor oil. After that, you get into newborn stool, which is soft and not hard and formed, as you’d expect. It can look thin, yellow, and somewhat seedy. That’s a very normal stool, but there’s a lot of contact with the baby’s skin so it can cause diaper rash. This is where a barrier cream or diaper rash cream can come in handy. As they grow and eat more, they’ll have stool more often. Some breastfed babies can have a stool after every feeding, so that’s a lot of opportunities for diaper rash.

What does diaper rash look like in a newborn?

In a newborn, it’ll look like pinkish red, rough skin on the genitalia and the bottom. It tends to spare the folds in the skin. So where there are skin folds, you won’t see it. Once diaper rash has formed, there is still a role for cleanings and creams. The first thing you do is air it out and get it dry, then you add a barrier cream. Use the barrier cream at each and every diaper change, and put it on like you’re icing a cake. Really slather it on there. When you do apply it, I tell parents not to clean off the old cream all the way down to the skin. You don’t want to rub the tender skin. Later at night, you can gently clean all the way down the skin, then put on a new layer of cream. For most diaper rashes, this will work to take care of it.

What about baby powder?

In older times, everyone used baby powder, and we’d powder babies from head to toe. But things have changed and powder has really gone by the wayside. It can get into the lungs and it’s an irritant. The way we dry now is with super-absorbent diapers and by using an emollient or diaper cream as a protection.


Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.