Natural Baby Skin Care
Your baby’s skin is sensitive. This is no surprise, they spent 9 months in a protective cacoon of liquid to then be thrashed into this world of wind, rain, humidity and sunshine. And what if they are born into a family of sensitive, allergy-prone skin people (like me!)? Well, then sometimes it seems they may be destined to a challenging skincare life.
So what to do about it?
There are plenty of “baby-friendly” lotions on the market ranging in prices and promises. Like many things in life - sometimes the simplest is best. It is very normal for your infant’s skin to appear dry and even flaky soon after birth. To help with this, I recommend using natural oils you have in your house. You can use a few drops of extra virgin olive oil or coconut on on your palms and gently rub on your infant’s skin. This is also a great way to give your infant a gentle massage, which has a whole list of other benefits.
In general, I recommend avoiding any over the counter skincare that first month of life. Stick to natural, hydrating oils.
1. For Cradle Cap
Infants very commonly will develop a greasy, scaly and sometimes even crusty layer on their scalp. It is usually never itchy or painful and bothers us a lot more than our baby. It is not caused by bacteria, fungus, allergy or poor hygiene and is never contagious. One thought is, it is due to overactive sebaceous glands (the glads near your hair follicle that secretes oil). Not only can infants be producing more oils due to normal hormonal changes as they adjust to lack of mom’s hormones, but their small follicles and glands mean they are more susceptible to clogging. Your infant will outgrow this but in the meantime there are plenty of specialized creams and formulas I have seen with promises to help remove that layer from your infant’s scalp. The problem with many of these creams? While some ingredients may be helpful, they often contain alcohol or dye chemicals that are the very thing your baby’s sensitive skin will react to!
I have found over the years, the best tried and true treatment are the oils in your kitchen cabinet.
1. Take a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil (I like coconut oil because it smells so good!) and gently rub/ layer over the cradle cap
2. Allow 10 to 30 minutes for the oil to soak into the scalp
3. Use a gentle wash cloth or a soft baby brush and slowly wipe/brush the cradle cap layer off
4. Voilá! Repeat as needed
2. For Dry, Scaly Patches of Skin
Due to infant’s sensitive skin, they are more prone to developing eczema as an infant. Many who develop eczema as an infant do not necessarily continue to have eczema through child and adulthood. Treatment of your infant’s dry skin patches are two-fold, both treatment and prevention.
Eczema dry patches from the environment tend to be on your infant’s cheek, elbows, legs and sometimes small patches on his or her belly. If you start to see eczema patches or rashes more around the eyes, bottom or even patches evenly all over, this may represent a food allergy and I recommend consulting your pediatrician.
For Prevention: Use a thick cream such as a bee’s wax based ointment. Try to avoid petroleum based products. Run this ointment on specific dry-prone areas before going outside and after baths (this will lock in the moisture).
For Treatment: Start with the olive or coconut oil as a hydrating treatment. If this does not work and your infant is a couple of months old, can then try specific eczema cream such as Cetaphil or a similar brand. Last resort is a low dose, over the counter steroidal cream for severe eczema. I recommend only doing this when really necessary to avoid steroid overuse. Steroids will actually thin your infant’s skin overtime.
3. For the Red Diaper Rash
Diaper rashes can be very difficult to treat sometimes and represent everything from food allergies, yeast infection to skin irritation. Irritation rashes traditionally are redness starting around the ends of the diaper. For irritation rashes, barrier cream is your best bet. Again, I tend to like and use Bee’s wax based thick ointment for minor rashes and recommend avoiding petroleum. If you need something stronger, using a Zinc based product would be the second step. If there is a concern for a yeast infection, your pediatrician may need to prescribe you a Nystatin cream. Periods of time allowing your infants bottom to air dry with no diaper on (easier said than done, I know!) also helps decrease yeast infection. All the above mentioned creams can be combined, which is often what I recommend for patients to target multiples causes of the diaper rash.
Some Brands I use and like …
I should mention I am in no way affiliated or receiving support from these brands and there are likely several other brands that work very well. This is just a short list of skincare that has worked for my patients and myself to help you navigate all the options out there.
Burt’s Bee’s Baby Multipurpose Ointment
Boudreaux Natural Butt Paste (contains Zinc)
Baby Bum Skincare Line