Is anything more perfect than your baby's skin? You can't help but touch and caress it. Go right ahead! Your baby loves it as much as you do.
Protecting delicate skin from harm is an important job for a parent. Here's what you'll need to know and do.
The Soft Touch
While your baby's skin is famously soft and smooth, it is also strong and resilient. The skin is the body's largest organ -- a group of cells stacked together to form a thin but tough barrier. Skin constantly renews itself throughout life, a process that begins even before birth.
Still, many a newborn's skin is anything but perfect at first. Don't be alarmed by considerable peeling, redness, or flaking in the first few days after birth. Areas like the wrists, knees, and feet may even bleed as they adjust to being exposed to air. This is all normal. Use a gentle skin ointment to help lubricate and heal cracked or bleeding skin. Your baby's skin will fill out and get smoother very soon.
For more information on how to prevent or heal diaper rash, click here.
To keep your baby's skin healthy, you need to maintain its natural softness and strength. Even if your baby's skin isn't peeling, it will benefit from using moisturizers. For everyday lubrication, try petroleum jelly, Aquaphor, Eucerin, Moisturel, or Cetaphil. You can get fragrance-free products with ingredients such as mineral oil or petrolatum. The routine moisturizer you use on your infant should not contain alpha hydroxy acids or sunscreens.
In fact, using the same moisturizer you use on your body is an excellent choice, since you and the baby are always touching anyway. Whatever you choose, stick with it so your baby's skin won't have to readjust to the different blends of ingredients in various products.
Babies of all ages should stay out of direct sunlight. A baby can get sunburned in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, even on cloudy days.
The first line of defense should be clothing. On warm days, dress your baby in lightweight cotton clothing that covers her arms and legs, and make sure she wears a wide-brimmed hat for every outing. Try to avoid going out when the sun's rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently restated its policy on babies and sunscreen. Previously, it had recommended against using sunscreen on babies under 6 months of age. Now, however, it says there is no evidence that small amounts of sunscreen on young babies pose any risks. Still, don't rely on sunscreen as a substitute for protective clothing or sun avoidance. Use it to cover your baby's exposed face, hands, and feet.