5 Things You Need to Know About Newborn Skin Care
Your newborn’s skin is perfect—right up until it’s not! Newborn babies have tender, new skin that has unique needs of its own. And it can be confusing knowing what to do when your baby breaks out in a rash, thanks to the thousands of products out there and all the “helpful” tips passed along from friends and family.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. During a recent Facebook Live event—sponsored by the good people at Balmex—Bundoo Pediatrician Dr. Justin Morgan and I discussed the unique challenges of caring for newborn skin. Here are some of the top tips we shared, but if you’d like to see the whole Facebook Live event, scroll to the bottom and click play.
How is newborn skin different than adult skin? How do you care for it?
Dr. Morgan: The biggest thing about newborn skin is that it’s going to have rashes at some time or another. Everybody wants perfect skin, but at some point, there’s going to be some sort of rash and that’s normal. You need to have realistic expectations.
Dr. Connolly: That really starts in the newborn nursery. Your newborn’s skin has been bathed in perfect fluid until then, but now it’s exposed to the world. Every molecule it encounters is a new molecule. Sometimes newborn skin is just a response to the newness of it all.
Dr. Morgan: Newborn skin also has some dryness and flakiness, and that’s normal. They’ve been bathed in fluid and then they come out. It’s like living in a swimming pool for nine months, then getting out.
Dr. Connolly: In general, newborn skin needs to be babied, but part of that is just leaving it alone. It needs to be kept away from detergents and not over-bathed. I warn parents not to worry about that so much. You don’t have to bathe a newborn as much as older kids.
Around the third week, newborn acne shows up. It looks like regular teenage acne. What can parents do about that?
Dr. Connolly: That’s one of those normal, newborn rashes that should just be left alone. If you’re going to wash it, wash it once a day with a tiny amount of scent-free, color-free soap and that’s it.
Let’s talk about the newborn bum for a second. What about disposable versus cloth diapers?
Dr. Morgan: I don’t really have an opinion. I think it comes and goes. Cloth was really popular in my area 5-10 years ago, but I rarely ever see cloth anymore.
Dr. Connolly: I see the opposite in my area. I see more cloth diapers now than I did ten years ago. But if you talk about the goal is to keep as little moisture in contact with the skin as possible, the cloth diapers don’t do as good a job as the disposable diapers, although they are better for the environment. Just because you’re using cloth doesn’t mean you’re not going to see those normal diaper rashes. It’s really about keeping urine and stool away from the skin. Some kids seem vulnerable to it, and need constant applications of a barrier cream from the day they’re born. You have to use it thick enough, but it can really help.
Is there a brand of diapers that cause more rashes than others?
Dr. Morgan: I don’t recommend one brand or the other. Typically, people ask their friends what they use. I usually tell people to find one they like. There’s no such thing as a diaper that’s better for boys or girls.
How do you start treating diaper rash?
Dr. Morgan: I recommend using a product that has zinc oxide on it first, before trying anything with antibiotics or even calling your pediatrician. You can do this at home.
Dr. Connolly: The nurses we work with also swear by air time. Get that little tush up in the air. And don’t worry if they pee a little. Just put them on a towel.