Winter is rolling in, and that means prime time for frustrating issues with your baby's sensitive skin.
Buuut - it doesn't have to be a battle. Here are our top tips for winter skincare with your baby, common skin conditions, and what to look for this winter...
Let's dive in!
Why is Baby Skin More Sensitive?
Maybe you've noticed your baby struggling with skin issues more than you ever have - why is that? There are a few reasons your baby has more sensitive skin:
1. Their Skin is Still Developing
We all have a hydrolipidic film on our skin that protects our skin from cold, dry weather and keeps moisture in. But for babies, their film hasn't fully developed, which leaves them more vulnerable to the elements. Usually their skin hasn't fully developed until they are 2 - which means you'll be paying attention to their sensitive skin for a while.
2. Their Skin Has Higher Moisture Content
Baby skin has higher moisture content, but it also struggles to keep the moisture in. That's why cradle cap, eczema, and dry skin are so common in little ones - they just can't stay moisturized!
3. They Can't Regulate Temperature As Well
As adults, we regulate our temperature by dilating the blood vessels in our skin, but your baby's skin can't do the same as well. This is why it's so important to keep your baby warm after bath time with a soft, thick towel - and to be careful about bath water temperature to avoid heat rashes.
4. Their Skin Can't Defend Irritants
When your baby is born, their skin pH is nearly neutral. A lot of shampoos, bubble baths, and soaps are alkaline, which disrupts your baby's natural skin pH. Even antibacterial soaps and cleaners that contain alcohol can irritate your baby's natural skin. It's important to maintain your baby's natural skin pH - their skin will become more acidic as they grow, but while they are little it takes extra work to protect their baby skin!
Common Baby Skin Issues
Not every skin condition is cause for worry. Here are a few that are very normal for your little one to experience:
1. Baby Acne
Just what it sounds like! Tiny red pimples that usually appear on your baby's face during their first month. Usually they go away on their own.
2. Contact Dermatitis
This is when your baby's skin flares up when it comes in contact with an irritant or allergen. Paying attention to triggers and patterns can help you root out the true cause for these flare ups.
These are tiny white bumps that show up within the first few weeks of life. They are harmless and usually appear on your baby's nose, chin, and cheeks.
4. Cradle Cap
Cradle cap looks like flaking, scaly patches on your baby's scalp. Using a gentle moisturizer consistently and keeping the spots clean will usually treat mild cases just fine.
Dry, rough, itchy patches of skin that can pop up anywhere on your baby, usually worsened in dry, cold weather. Mild cases can be treated with consistent, gentle moisturizer, but your pediatrician might prescribe you a specific cream to treat more severe cases.
6. Diaper Rash
Caused by sitting in moisture too long, friction, or irritants in your diapers or wipes. Looks like redness in the diaper area and treatment options are usually straightforward!
7. Erythema Toxicum
This is a rash that shows up within the first few days of your baby's life, but it's harmless - so don't worry! It usually goes away in a few days.
How to Take Care of Your Baby's Skin This Winter:
So now you might be able to put a name to the skin struggle you're dealing with - but how do you treat it? Here are our top 9 tips:
1. Opt for Fragrance-Free
The biggest ingredient in your baby's lotions or soaps that could be irritating is fragrance. Most companies use harmful chemicals to add an artificial smell, and your baby's sensitive skin can't handle it as well as you do! Opt for fragrance-free products instead - you can usually see if a product has fragrance at the end of their ingredient list, but most baby products labeled "gentle" or "sensitive" won't include it.
2. Use Sensitive Skin Friendly Washcloths
Your baby's skin is most sensitive in the bath and after bath time, so it's important to protect their skin during your washing routine! Invest in sensitive skin friendly washcloths like ours - they're made with 100% muslin cotton and don't include any harmful materials that could be irritants.
3. Use Gentle Detergent
Your baby could also interact with harmful chemicals in their clothing, so it's always best to research your detergent choices! We use a "free & gentle" detergent in our house that still cleans and sanitizes, just without the irritating chemicals and fragrances in most mainstream detergents. Pro parent tip: skip baby-specific detergents; they're usually just a normal gentle detergent formula marketed for babies and marked up in price!
4. Pay Attention to Irritants
Identifying why your baby has irritated skin might take some investigating. Each baby is different! Record when your baby has a flare up, what kind of skin irritation they have, and what you suspect caused it. Notice patterns - maybe their eczema flares up after the bath, or their cradle cap is worse in the morning. Keep an eye out for allergic reactions - having irritated skin after bath time or on a daily basis is pretty normal, but if their skin gets irritated after visiting a family member's cat or eating a certain food, consult your pediatrician.
5. No Scratchy Towels
Most baby towels are thin and scratchy - which only makes your baby's sensitive skin worse. After bath time is a vulnerable time for your baby's skin, and it's important to use gentle products. Our Hooded Bath Towels are buttery soft and made with thick cotton that won't rub your baby's skin raw. Dry them off after bath time with our towel to keep them safe, comfortable, warm, and dry.
6. Choose Hypoallergenic, Unscented Diapers
You'll probably encounter diaper rash sometime or another on your parenting journey, but it's never fun to deal with. One way to avoid irritating your baby's skin is by using hypoallergenic, unscented diapers. Again, a big irritant here are fragrances (as a rule of thumb: the fewer, the better!) Investing in diapers that are more sensitive on your baby's skin is so worth it in the long run.
7. Cure Diaper Rash with the Right Products
When your baby gets diaper rash, it's important to heal it with the right products. A lot (like baby powder) are actually really dangerous and harmful for your baby. Stick with simple petroleum jelly or zinc oxide cream - they are basic, sure, but they'll heal your baby a lot faster and keep them safe in the process.
8. Change Diapers Frequently
The best way to avoid diaper rash? Change your baby's diaper often! We totally get it - it's not always convenient or cost effective, and you can't be perfect. But during those spells of diaper rash, try changing your baby's diaper really frequently at home - even if it isn't completely full. Diaper rash occurs when your baby sits in moisture for too long, so even a small dirty diaper can do some damage.
9. Consult Your Pediatrician
Sensitive baby skin is normal, and if your baby struggles with it from time to time, it doesn't mean anything is wrong! You're doing a great job. If your baby ever breaks out in hives or has a skin condition you can't seem to beat, your pediatrician is always a resource you can reach out to. They can often point you in the right direction, whether it be a special cream or an allergy test.
Parenting is messy, and you're doing a great job. As winter rolls in, we hope you and your baby stay safe, warm, and cozy!