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During the winter time, you’ve probably noticed that your skin changes and becomes more dry due to the cold, harsh weather. Since your skin needs additional protection, so do your baby’s. And, because baby skin is extremely sensitive—typically about 30% thinner than adult skin—it’s important to make sure their skin receives adequate protection and care. If you’re wondering how to protect baby skin in the winter, it all comes down to bath time techniques. So, here are the top tips for baby bath time to ensure moisturized, healthy skin.
Although you may think you should be bathing your baby frequently, this can actually be counterintuitive to what’s best for your baby’s skin health. Because baby skin isn’t as strong as adult skin, daily or frequent baths can actually lead to increased dryness and an overall weakened skin barrier. Instead of bathing your baby daily, 2-3 baths per week is recommended. Keep in mind that a bath should be short, generally less than 10 minutes long. These baths can, of course, be supplemented with sponge baths for the times that your baby is covered in spit, dirt, or poop. You don’t want to leave your baby visibly dirty, but you don’t need to be bathing your child frequently, especially during winter months where skin is more susceptible to dryness.
Even during warmer months, dry, chapped lips can be a problem for babies. Drooling, runny noses, and lip-licking all lead to additional moisture on their lips, which breaks down the protective top layer of lip skin over time. Add dry, cold weather and this becomes even more a problem. After bathing your baby (or really anytime they need relief from chapped lips), apply a thin layer of gentle lip balm or petroleum jelly to moisturize lips and to create a protective barrier against the cold elements outside. Likewise, if your newborn has chapped lips, you can apply some of your breast milk to help soothe their cracked skin.
Because bath time products can sometimes be drying for the skin, you’ll want to avoid soaps and other cleansers that contain detergents, dyes, fragrances, phthalates, and other deodorants. These sorts of products tend to be more dry-inducing than all-natural, un-fragranced products, not to mention the fact that they can also be allergy-inducing to babies that have sensitive or allergy-prone skin. Companies such as Burt’s Bees, the Honest Company, CeraVe, Eucerin make gentle, all-natural products that are easy on Baby’s skin and clean them appropriately.
When you finish bathing your baby, it’s time to moisturize their skin. After their bath, be sure to pat them down gently with a soft towel. Because of their sensitive skin, make sure not to rub too vigorously or use towels with harsher, rougher material. Once they’re dry, apply a thin layer of moisturizer on their body to help create a thin barrier that will lock in moisture. Be sure to avoid a build-up of lotion between toes and skin folds. Similarly to a cleanser, your moisturizer should be free of alcohol, perfumes, fragrance, or dyes, as these ingredients can be both drying and/or irritating to sensitive skin. In terms of frequency, you don’t have to wait to bathe your baby in order to moisturize them. If you notice your baby’s skin is cracked or dry, extra moisturizing is beneficial to them. Likewise, if there’s a history of eczema in the family, additional moisturizing sessions can be exceptionally helpful.
Even though it may be freezing outside, sunscreen is still a necessary product, both for you and your child. Though the sun might not be as strong, it can still reflect off snow and reflect UV rays onto your baby. If your baby is under 6 months old, they shouldn’t yet be wearing sunscreen. Instead, use a UV cover on their car seat or stroller, and limit the amount of exposure they have to direct sunlight. If, however, your baby is 6 months or older, they can start wearing sunscreen as a protectant. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher for best results. Again, choosing products that are all-natural and fragrance-free will only serve to benefit your child.
When your baby is finished with their bath and has been properly moisturized, there’s still an important step in ensuring that their skin is protected: dressing them correctly! Although your instinct may be to bundle your baby up in tons of warm clothing, too much warmth can actually result in heat rash. If sweat glands get too clogged, itchy, red bumps will appear on your child’s body. To prevent heat rash, make sure to utilize breathable layers when you’re dressing your baby. That way, if your baby is too hot, you can remove layers instead of having to change their entire outfit. And, if a heat rash does develop, using a 1% hydrocortisone cream will help with itchiness and should help the rash go away on its own in a couple of days.