New-born and toddler skin needs plenty of gentle, loving care. This head-to-toe guide will assist you in caring for your little one's skin from breakfast to bedtime!
Babies' skin is delicate and sensitive. It needs special care and must be kept clean, dry and fragrant at all times. Follow these pointers:
Keep it clean: It's important to keep your baby's skin clean to prevent irritation and infection. Boiled, cooled water is all you need for “topping or tailing” – use separate pieces of moistened cotton wool to clean his face and neck, hands and nappy area. Dry his skin thoroughly afterwards. Toddlers love spending time in water filled with bubbles – just be sure you stay with him to supervise and prevent accidents.
Keep it moist: Many babies develop dry, chapped skin because the sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum to lubricate the skin, don't develop completely until puberty. The main cause of dry, itchy skin in babies during winter is indoor heating. Increase the moisture levels in your home with a humidifier and for your baby generally by increasing his fluid intake. Apply a good moisturiser to your baby's skin once you've patted it dry after his bath, and only use soaps and bubble baths that are hypo-allergenic.
Washing hair: A daily rinse in warm water is fine, with a shampoo twice a week. Use a mild, tear-free shampoo and avoid getting it in your baby's eyes. It's fine to wash the fontanelles (the soft spots on your baby's head where the skull bones have yet to fuse together), since the tough membrane covering will ensure careful washing doesn't harm them. Baby hair is so soft that there's no need to use a conditioner.
Eyecare: Babies often have "sleep"in their eyes (mucus produced by the eye glands that appears as a sticky residue in the corner of the eye), so clean them every day. If your baby's eyes seem unusually itchy and this doesn't clear up after a few days, consult your GP. Clean one eye at a time, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye, and work from the inner corner outwards.
Earcare: Cleaning ears should be part of your “topping and tailing” routine. Wipe around and behind each ear with cotton wool moistened in boiled, cooled water. Never try to clean inside your baby's ear – any wax will work its way out naturally.
Nosecare: Your baby's nose is self-cleaning, but may become encrusted with mucus. If he has a runny nose, wipe it with damp cotton wool. Don't try to clean inside it, as you could scratch the delicate membrane.
Nappy area: Nappy rash can range from slight redness around a baby's bottom to a bright red rash with sores and patches of rough, red skin. Those aged between nine and 12 months are most at risk. It's unusual to see nappy rash in new-born babies, probably because their nappies are changed frequently. Prevent nappy rash by changing your baby's nappy frequently and as soon as possible after a bowel motion. Clean and dry your baby's bottom every time you change his nappy, using a barrier cream to protect his skin (make sure the skin is dry before applying this). Wipe your baby girl from front to back to avoid spreading germs from the anus to the vagina. With a boy, wipe towards the penis while gently holding the testicles out the way. Never pull back the foreskin.
Buying baby toiletries: Babies are prone to dry, easily irritated skin, so choose baby toiletries rather than adult ones, as they're gentler. There are many toiletries designed specially for babies, including shampoo, moisturiser and nappy cream. If your baby suffers from skin allergies, ask your GP which products to use or what measures to take.