One of the most important parts of caring for your newborn baby is skin care. Good baby skin care requires a lot of attention as it is extremely sensitive. Most approaches to baby skin care focus on the bathing of the baby.
While this is certainly important, skin is essentially a reflection of the health on the inside. Healthy, gorgeous and glowing skin requires both an appropriate diet and a good external environment.
Strong creams or ointments or even normal strength ones can be devastating to a baby’s soft skin. Their sensitive skin can be very reactive to things around them. So you need some preparation and knowledge formulating skin care routine.
How to properly wash your baby
The first thing to know about washing your baby is you do not need to bath them daily. Soaps especially can be harsh on their skin. Daily soaping is almost certain to dry them out, but even water on a daily basis is a stress to their skin.
Our skins produce a natural moisturizer called sebum which protects it from bacteria and other harsh particles/temperatures. Washing with soap effectively removes this and can cause dry skin especially in winter. The absolute best way to wash for optimal baby skin care is a very mild sponge and water.
Contrary to popular belief, soaps are not necessary to remove dirt and bacteria; water does the job just as well. Just gently brush around all areas of your baby’s skin, paying special attention to folds, groin area, and armpits.
Just as important as proper washing is proper drying. Rough towels which are common for adults to dry with are not appropriate for baby skin care. A very soft (almost silky) cloth is best used, and it is best to just gently dab the skin dry.
— SwagLaundry (@SwagLaundry) February 17, 2016
Make sure the skin is totally dry as damp areas promote bacterial growth. Common damp areas include; nappy area, neck, behind the ears, toes, etc.
Foods to promote healthy baby skin
Ideally, for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, you will want be breastfeeding them. However, once they reach 6 months old their bodies will start to require supplemental food in addition to breast milk.
If you are following good advice, you should give your baby plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (and no processed starchy carbohydrates) from 6 months onwards which contain all their skin needs to shine.
There are certain foods, however, which are better than others for the skin.
- Vitamin A (spinach, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce)
- Vitamin B (liver, cheese, eggs, almost all meat/fish)
- Vitamin C (pineapple, strawberries, kiwi fruit, blueberries)
- Vitamin D (oily fish, however ideally you would want your baby to be exposed to 20-30 mins of sunshine)
- Vitamin E (Nuts and seeds, try almond butter/tahini)
- Iron (liver, cheese, eggs, meat in general)
- Zinc (liver, oysters and pumpkin seeds)
- Omega 3 (oily fish and linseed/flaxseed, it is important to aim for a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 because they act antagonistically on each other)
Other baby skin care tips
- A simple yet obvious idea is to keep sheets and pillows clean. It is usually good to change them twice a week, perhaps more if they have a condition like a cradle cap or eczema.
— Skinfix Inc (@SkinfixInc) January 16, 2015
- Baggy clothes which allow plenty of air flow help the skin to breathe when it is warm. In colder places, you will, of course, need to prevent air flow with tight fitting clothes in order to keep the infant warm.
- Avoid too much sunlight on your baby’s skin, but make sure they at least get some.
Skin exposure to sunlight is the primary way which humans make Vitamin D (which is recently becoming known as ‘the miracle vitamin’), however, damage to the skin due to sunburn indicates too much exposure.
- Avoid strong or alcohol based baby skin care products, even organic baby skin care products. Most specially formulated baby products are mild anyway, but it is always prudent to wash them off the skin as soon as possible.
- When choosing a cream or ointment to use, I recommend sticking with organic baby skin care products. There is still a debate about how toxic the pesticide residues in most products really are.
For the sake of your baby’s health, it is prudent to stick with organic. Good choices include virgin cold-pressed coconut oil and cocoa butter. Look on the packaging to make sure there is only 1 ingredient.