Skincare Basics

Caring for your baby’s skin is easy when you know the basics.

Most babies enjoy having their skin gently rubbed and massaged. But they don’t come with owner’s manuals recommending how often they should be bathed, slathered and pampered. Care for your newborn with our skincare basics article.

What do I do with my baby’s umbilical cord stump?

Your newborn’s umbilical cord will continue to dry out and will fall off anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks post-birth. During that time, wash it, bathe it, and keep it clean and dry until it falls off. Be gentle–always pat it dry, especially after bathing. Watch for signs of infection, such as a foul smell or yellow drainage, redness or tenderness. Call your child’s healthcare provider if you see any of these signs.

How often should I bathe my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing your baby no more than 3 times each week to minimize the drying effects of cleansers. Cleaning his diaper area thoroughly during diaper changes allows you to bathe your baby less frequently.

Is it safe to use baby powders?

In general, experts recommend against using baby powders, particularly powders containing talc as the fine particles can irritate baby’s lungs. If you feel you need to put a little powder in baby’s arm and leg creases, apply a little to your hand first rather than shaking it near or over your infant, as this could cause breathing problems.

How do I prevent diaper rash?

Frequent diaper changes are the best way to prevent diaper rash, particularly removing wet or soiled diapers as soon as they occur. Avoid wipes containing alcohol and fragrances, and expose your baby’s bottom to fresh air whenever possible. If your baby starts to develop a bright red rash in the diaper area gently clean his bottom first with water, pat dry, then apply a zinc oxide-based barrier cream before diapering.

Are lotions safe for my baby’s skin?

Lotions made for babies can help moisturize your baby’s skin. To prevent irritation, use lotions that are fragrance-free, some fragrances may irritate or cause a rash. When you apply lotion, use this time to massage and interact with your baby. Most babies crave this ritual and closeness with their mom or dad.

Newborn Skin Care: Top 4 Tips

  • Bathe your baby every 2-3 days; not daily
  • Change baby’s diaper as soon as it is wet or soiled
  • Choose lotions and wipes with as few ingredients as possible
  • Skip baby powder, and if you do use powder, use only talc-free and avoid shaking powder on or near your baby

Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

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