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When Do You Use a Cleanser or Moisturizer for Baby's Skin? Experts Share Their Thoughts
  • Parents want to care for baby skin the best way possible because their little one’s skin is thinner, and it is more delicate and sensitive. When new moms see a tiny scratch, rash, or blemish on their newborn’s delicate skin, it’s hard not to go into panic mode. Here are five myths about your baby’s skin and how to address it.

    Baby skin myth #1: Baby skin has a lot of moisture.

    Apart from baby skin being thinner than an adult’s, it also loses water five times faster than adult skin, according to Dr. Giselle Adasa, a pediatric dermatologist and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society.

    “Your [adult] skin has this water-soluble substance that attracts water. In babies, it’s two times lower than that of adults,” she explains in a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article. “Your baby’s skin has smaller corneocyte, which are cells in your skin that hold water. So your baby’s skin has a lesser holding capacity for water.”

    Because of these factors, baby skin is more prone to irritation. “That’s why you have contact dermatitis — rashes, redness, and roughness of the skin,” Dr. Adasa adds.

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    Baby skin myth #2: You only need water to cleanse baby skin.

    Yes, you can wash your baby with just water if you want to, but according to Baby Centre, water-only baths work best if you live in a soft water area because the water also has an acidic pH. Hard water has alkaline pH, and if you live in a hard water area, bathing your baby with just water “may disturb the acid mantle of your baby’s skin and dry it out.” In her column for Baby Centre, Harriet Gibbs, an experienced health visitor, says that hard water has been linked to higher rates of eczema in babies compared to soft water areas.


    According to a study that sampled tap water in Manila, our water has fluctuating values of “soft” to “very hard,” in terms of water hardness. So, your baby’s skin may benefit from a mild cleanser.

    Look for cleansers that are “soap-free and less fragrant or fragrant-free. You don’t want the sudsy kinds of soap as these can strip the oil from the baby’s skin,” advises pediatrician Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas. “Some people think that if the cleanser isn’t soapy, then it can’t clean. But this isn’t true. These cleansers do the job well, and they keep the skin’s moisture in.”

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    Baby skin myth #3: Babies don’t need moisturizers.

    Use lotion or moisturizer on an as-needed basis, says Mayo Clinic, as most newborns don’t need lotion after a bath. ‘If his or her skin is very dry, apply a small amount of unscented baby moisturizer to dry areas. The massage might make your baby feel good. If dryness continues, you might be bathing your baby too often.”

    Dr. Isip-Cumpas says that when you notice your baby’s skin is getting rough and dry, the first thing you should do is to find out why. “Is it because your baby is exposed to certain fabrics that might be too harsh for your baby’s skin? Are you bathing your baby for too long that his skin is drying out?”

    After checking on these factors, you can address the drying by putting on lotion. “Put it all over the body: the face, on the arms and the legs; paying close attention to the areas that don’t get aired out so much like the neck and behind the knees.”

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    Every skin is different. Ask the advice of your pediatrician for the best type for your baby.

    Baby skin myth #4: Milk baths are good for babies.

    A milk bath is where you add milk, whether in liquid or powdered form, to warm water and use it for bathing yourself. For babies, breast milk is thought to be beneficial for baby skin as it helps in healing skin conditions like eczema, cradle cap, psoriasis, and minor burns, cuts, and scrapes. One study claimed that breast milk may be used as hydrocortisone in treating acute diaper dermatitis.

    We have done a story where experts, moms, and studies offered feedback on claims that breast milk has potential to be a solution for skin problems (read more here). But if you will use it as a bath, it is still best to consult your doctor first.

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    Baby skin myth #5: Baby powder can help with diaper rash.

    For a long time, baby powder has been associated with preventing diaper rash. But it turns out, your baby might not even need baby powder for the first year of his life.

    “Speaking as a pediatric dermatologist, we don’t really recommend powder for babies anymore,” says Dr. Adasa. The reason for this is to avoid triggering asthma. “Once you trigger an infant’s asthma, other related conditions may be triggered as well.”

    It’s best to avoid using baby powder for your baby at least for the first year of his life, advises Dr. Adasa. She adds, “As the baby grows, you can start using baby powder – that is kapag wala naman siyang asthma and other related conditions.”


    To treat diaper rash, you may use ointments to create a barrier between your baby’s skin and the stool or urine that’s irritating it. Petroleum jelly will also do the trick. Smear these on after every diaper change but make sure your baby’s bottom is completely dry before application. Click here for additional tips.

    New parents might feel nervous about caring for a newborn because they are so small and fragile. Click here to learn how to care for your little one, including simple tasks like bathing and nail trimming!

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