main logo

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!

My Parent Fail: The Tragic Red Butt

After 3 nights in a row of waking up this past week with my baby, I finally had it. I decided to practice what I preach and let her cry it out. I am not good at this. As it turns out, I am a sucker for a crying kid. She’s just too cute. Anyway, at 2 a.m., she woke up crying. After 20 mins, she fell back asleep. At 6 a.m., she was up again. After 10 mins of crying, I decided she probably wasn’t going back to sleep and would be up for the day. When I walked in her room, the smell hit me. Of course the night I decide to let her cry it out she decided to poop in the middle of the night (a total first for her). For those inventor types out there, I think a monitor that can detect the smell of feces is a money idea.

Anyway, when I changed her, her butt was bright red, super sore, and she screamed like crazy. Naturally, my mother guilt was eating me up. How long had she sat in her poop to make her butt that bad? Ohhhhh….  In the name of education, I am risking revealing my tragic parenting moment.

So what to do:

If the butt is just red:

  1. Use hypoallergenic products (wipes, diapers, etc.).
  2. Apply a super thick barrier/diaper cream every diaper change.

If the butt has red spots:

  1. You may have yeast and will need to add a cream to address that (may need to come from your doctor).

If the butt has open sores:

  1. You may need treatment like a burn or wound (will need to see your doctor).

If the butt has deep red, hard tissue:

  1. You may have a cellulitis and need an oral antibiotic (will need to see your doctor).

[NOTE: I’m looking for the pics. I’m certain I took them, but can’t find them now. Ugh. Will add them when I find them.] The pics aren’t perfect; I tried to hold my squirming baby while my son took the pictures. The second pic shows you just how much cream to put on (I know, it’s a ton). You can never use too much butt cream! Go nuts!

-Photos courtesy of

Beware The Diaper Rash

Nearly every child in diapers will experience a diaper rash at some point. The rash can range from red skin in the diaper area to open and bleeding sores. To fix or prevent the problem, you must first know what causes the problem.


  1. When urine and stool touch the skin for too long (i.e., too much moisture)
  2. Rubbing or chafing
  3. Yeast infection
  4. Bacterial infection
  5. Allergic reaction (esp. to diaper materials)


  1. Frequent diaper changes. Do not allow a child to stay in a wet or soiled diaper.
  2. Gently clean the area with water and a soft cloth. Use soap only if stool will not easily come off. Avoid wipes with alcohol or perfume, they can irritate the skin.
  3. Allow area to dry fully (by air or patting dry). Do not rub irritated skin.
  4. Use a thick protective barrier cream or ointment. I usually recommend ones with zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. Remember, they do not have to be wiped completely off at each diaper change (take off the top layer that may be soiled, careful not to rub the skin, and apply more on top).
  5. Make sure the diaper fits properly. Diapers that are too tight or too small can cause rubbing when soiled (esp. at night).

When to see the pediatrician:

  1. If the diaper rash isn’t improved after 2-3 days of treatment.
  2. There are blisters or sores.
  3. There is associated fever.
  4. The rash is bright red with red spots at the edges (esp. in light of taking an antibiotic).
  5. The rash is very painful.
  6. The rash is getting worse.