A baby’s skin is wonderfully soft, warm and fragrant but it is also very sensitive. It is five times thinner than the skin of adults, and germs and environmental influences can play havoc with it. But with proper care, your baby’s skin grows stronger and soon forms a shield against harfmul outside influences – light, heat and cold.
Handle With Care
Newborns do not have a protective oily film on their skin, which is why they smell so yummy! This is because the sebaceous glands are not functioning properly. As a result, the skin loses moisture quickly and dries out easily.
A baby’s skin also does not produce melanin, which is the pigment that lends colour to the skin and also protects it from harmful rays of the sun. Since they lack the body’s natural sunscreen, babies should never be directly exposed to the sun. This also applies in winter. But guard against using sunscreen in the first year. During this time, your baby’s skin is so thin that chemicals are easily absorbed and are harmful. The alternative is dressing baby in airy, long-sleeve T-shirts – and make them stay in the shade.
An infant’s sweat glands are not yet working, which means they lack an automatic thermostat. It is only in their third year that the body begins to regulate temperature through the ability to perspire, whcih cools the skin. Till then, make sure your baby is neither too cool nor too warm. How do you know if he is ’well-tempered’? Check the neck frequently and make sure your child drinks a lot of fluids.
Neonatal skin lacks the protective acid mantle, which is made of acidic oils, on it surface. This layer guards against harmful environmental influences and infectious pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. Since it does not have an acidic mantle, baby skin has a ’neutral pH’, (acid-alkaline balance). After six weeks, the pH turns ’sour’ or acidic and the skin becomes resilient.
A close look at an infant’s skin will reveal that it is relatively transparent. This is because the skin cells take months to link to each other, which also makes its very delicate. Therefore, use clothes and bed linen made only of natural fibres. Synthetic fabrics can be very harmful. Also, wash your baby’s clothes and bedspreads at least twice before use.
Baby Skin Care
And you thought only grown women needed ’skin care’! Stroking and cuddling your baby are great for his skin as they promote blood circulation and increase resistance to disease. A bath once a week is sufficient. Spray-washing is better than swimming.
Clear water with a little olive oil in the bathtub is advisable because foam additives leach moisture out of the skin. If you have the time, a ’Cleopatra Bath’ is recommended. Add a cup of milk and one tablespoon of oil to the bath water as the mixture acts as a natural moisturising mask for the whole body. Wash your baby’s hair with clean water. And, no, you don’t need baby shampoo.
Baby skin wrinkles easily so always pat dry, never rub as the lower layers of the skin are still growing and are susceptible to injury.
As for creams and lotions, just apply gently whenever your baby’s skin appears dry. Oils are not recommended for whole body treatment. They contain too little water and can cause the skin to dry. If you need a healing ointment for rashes, try calendula. But too much cream can also reduce the absorbency of the diaper.
Naked babies have fun, and fresh air also stimulates cell growth in the skin and makes it resilient.