Newborn skin is so soft, smooth, and delicate that parents want to keep it that way for as long as possible. In order to do that, they should know how to properly care for baby’s skin. That includes choosing the right kind of products for the three key stages that a child’s skin goes through: newborn, 6 months and above, and toddler years.
Caring for newborn skin
During the newborn stage, roughly from birth to six months, babies are mostly confined to their cribs or strollers and have very little contact with the external environment. At this stage, the most important thing is to “provide mild cleansing and moisturizing to ensure the healthy development of the skin barrier,” explains Robert Kwon, regional R&D associate director for Johnson and Johnson, in an email interview with SmartParenting.com.ph.
“When it comes to cleansers, in general, their main purpose is to clean the skin. The only difference between them is how gentle they are,” shares Dr. Giselle Adasa, a pediatric dermatologist and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society, in a previous Smart Parenting article. “Next is moisturizing. Ideally, this is right after giving your baby a bath. Why? Because you have to trap the water in the skin.”
When looking for cleaning products for your newborn, Kwon recommends the following requirements:
- Clinically-tested to show the the product is ultra-mild
- Non-irritating to the eyes
- Have a neutral or mildly acidic pH (between 5.5 to 7.0)
Caring for baby’s skin six months and up
Once the baby becomes mobile, usually after six months, they will have substantial contact with the environment, including dirt and more kinds of microorganisms, according to Kwon. You might want to look for foaming cleansers as foaming is generally considered to be a sign of effective cleansing.
“Good foaming can also serve as visual and tactile stimulation to babies, which can help make bath time more fun and engaging,” says Kwon. However, he reiterates a cleanser can still be as effective without the foaming effect.
Baby skin is thinner than adults, so it also loses water five times faster than adult skin, explains Dr. Adasa. “Your baby’s skin is really more prone to irritation. That’s why you have contact dermatitis — rashes, redness, and roughness of the skin.”
That’s where baby lotions can help (ask your pediatriacian for the best type for your baby). Dry skin tends to be more prone to skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, so regular use of a moisturizer is recommended. “Moisturizers that are non-sticky and absorb relatively easily are recommended,” says Kwon. “Also, the specific emollients used in moisturizers should be carefully considered. Some emollients, such as most olive oils, contain high levels of oleic acid, which can be disruptive to the skin barrier.”
When the baby becomes a full-fledged toddler, usually after 18 months, several changes occur. First, boys and girls become more different, including the length of hair. Consider adding shampoo to your list of products. “At this age, hair tends to become longer (especially for girls) and thicker,” says Kwon. “[The hair] can also contain more sebum, sweat, and dirt, depending on the baby’s play patterns and environment.”
Babies at this stage also begin to develop a sense of ownership, and like to have their own things, including products, shares Kwon. He adds that children at this stage become truly social.