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How to look after newborn skin

How to look after newborn skin

The delicate skin of a newborn baby needs careful attention, so here’s how to look after it – from avoiding wipes to dealing with nappy rash

Take the less-is-more approach when caring for delicate newborn skin. Here, Sharon Trotter, midwife, parenting consultant and founder of, gives advice on the important baby skincare dos and don’ts every parent should know.

Bath your babe right

‘For at least the first month after birth, bath your baby in plain water, using your hands, cotton wool or a natural sponge,’ says Sharon. ‘Only bath every two or three days, to allow your newborn’s skin time to develop its own natural barrier.’

Hold off with wipes and lotions

‘Stick to the water-only rule when cleaning the nappy area. You just need plain water and cotton wool – no wipes. You can apply a thin layer of barrier balm to the nappy area to prevent or treat rashes, but avoid all other skincare products until at least a month after birth.’

Select carefully and test

‘Once your baby is past the one-month stage and you decide to use baby skincare, introduce small amounts of mild products only, avoiding anything highly perfumed. Always test on a small area of skin first to check your baby doesn’t have a bad reaction.’

Get ahead of nappy rash

‘Nappy rash is the result of the area coming into contact with poo and wee. However, nappy rash is more common when babies are poorly, teething or weaning. The frequent dirty nappies at these times make nappy rash more likely.’

Here’s how to prevent it:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after nappy changes.
2. Avoid baby wipes for at least the first month – use just water and cotton wool.
3. Change nappies often (10-12 times per day for younger babies; 6-8 times per day for older babies) to keep the area clean and dry.
4. You may like to use a thin layer of barrier cream on the nappy area to prevent skin being too exposed.
5. Do not use talcum powder for at least the first month. Inhaling it can be harmful to your baby.

When to leave dry skin alone

‘If your baby is overdue, their skin may be dry and cracked because the protective vernix has been absorbed. Don’t use creams or lotions as this may do more harm than good. The top layer of skin will naturally peel off within a few days, leaving perfect skin underneath.’

Be patient with skin issues

‘If your newborn baby has skin problems, such as milk spots, dry patches or redness, be patient – they can take up to 12 weeks to clear. And remember not to use any products on broken skin.’

Washing detergents can cause irritation

‘Wash all clothes and bedding before use and don’t overload your washing machine – this ensures thorough rinsing. Use a mild detergent, and if you use a fabric conditioner, choose one that’s free from colours and strong perfumes.’

By Lisa Durant

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