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Newborn Tips: Skin Care

As many of you know, I had another baby this past week. Despite having done this a few times, I am reminded of all the quirky nuances of caring for a newborn. So, I’ve decided to share a series of quick tips on caring for newborns (seeing as how I have a cute example at home).

Last night, I was sitting at the dinner table with family and asked my husband if he wanted to bathe the 3 year old or the new baby. He quickly answered the 3 year old and, pointing to the newborn, stated, “She needs too many creams and lotions.” I smiled as I realized he was right.

Newborns have very sensitive skin and are constantly being exposed to new irritants. Skin issues with newborns are a very common question in my office.

What skin products to use on infants?

Despite some aggressive marketing by companies trying to sell you expensive “baby” products, many of the lines on the market are terrible for your newborn’s skin. Do not get hung up on the fact that it needs to be labeled as “baby.” Some of the best products out there are not necessarily for “baby.” As a general rule, use products that are:

  1. Hypoallergenic. Products will often actually say “hypoallergenic.”
  2. Fragrance free. Even though many of the baby products smell good, all the fragrance is often the cause of newborn rashes. Steer clear of them.
  3. Dye free. The product you choose should be white or clear (again steer clear of the pink and purple lotions).
  4. Thick-lotions/creams. (This recommendation may be a bit geographically dependent. Utah is very dry.) Generally, if the product is thicker, you won’t have to apply it as often.

Best detergents for infant clothes

I wash everyone’s clothes in the house in the same detergent. That way, I’m not worried when a sibling is holding the baby or the baby gets placed on a bed that isn’t hers and her face rubs against those different materials. (Besides, who has time to separate out all the baby things from the rest of the laundry? I’m just thrilled to get the laundry washed). At our house, I use All Free and Clear or Kirkland Free and Clear (a Costco store brand). I stock up when one or the other goes on coupon.

Best soap for infants

I like something moisturizing and gentle on the skin. I typically use Dove Baby Wash (sometimes even the Dove bar of soap in pinch) or Aveeno Baby Wash. In no way am I endorsing these products. There are plenty of other good ones out there. These are just the ones I use.

Best lotions for infants

In the first few days-to-weeks, a newborn’s skin will peel (this is because they had been swimming in water and are no longer). In this stage, I like to use a good, thick cream. Currently, I am using Cetaphil Cream. A couple of times a day, and always after baths, I will slather the baby’s skin with the cream. I even put it on her butt and scalp (through her hair to help prevent cradle cap).

Best creams for infant skin problems

  1. Cracking skin. I’ve noticed with all my babies that where the leg meets the foot (across the top), that the skin cracks. I think it is aggravated by the foot/ankle ID bands that they use at the hospital. I typically rub a triple antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) on this area a few times a day (like when I’m changing diapers).
  2. Diaper rashes. When a newborn starts pooping, the new, delicate skin can quickly get irritated. My newborn pooped 21 times yesterday (I’m not kidding). I had to start putting cream all over her butt because it was looking so red. My favorite cream is one called Calmoseptine. You don’t need a prescription for it, but you have to ask for it behind the pharmacy counter. It comes in a green and white tube and the cream is pink (typically costs between $4 and $7). Slather the cream on really thick, so you can just wipe off the top/soiled layer and leave a skiff always on your baby’s butt to protect it. I snapped a pic to demonstrate. (See, I’m not exaggerating, I mean a lot.)
  3. Dry, blistering lips. If your baby is an aggressive eater (I see it more with breastfeeding infants), your baby may develop dry, “blisters” around the inside of the lips. I call these “sucking blisters.” I’m not sure if there is a correct, technical term for them. The treatment of choice is to put a lubricating, barrier cream (like Aquaphor or Vaseline) on them.

So my husband was right (don’t tell him), I did end up using a lot of products on my baby last night after her tub. I put Cetaphil cream all over her, Calmoseptine on her butt, triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) on her feet, and Aquaphor on her lips. She’s only a few days old and she’s already high maintenance!