Taking care of a newborn is usually an experience that involves a mixture of emotions and activities. Personally, I had fun but it was also quite exhausting. If you are a first-time mom, the extremes can get the better part of you because you don’t know what to expect next and how you should handle it. One thing which causes most first-time mothers to worry is dry skin in newborns. So, what are the main causes of dry skin and how should you handle it?
Why Is My Baby’s Skin Dry?
Babies are extremely fragile while they are still young. Dry skin is a common thing which most (if not all) newborns experience. This condition normally starts immediately after childbirth. But the dry skin usually peels off or flakes and they will develop a new layer within the next few weeks.
The cause of dry skin in newborns is vernix. This is a white, thick, and sticky coating which normally protects the baby as they grow in the womb. Vernix is a natural moisturizer that softens and hydrates the skin. But during childbirth, it’s usually wiped off hence the baby’s skin will start drying as it adapts to new environmental changes.
Gentle Ways to Treat Dry Baby Skin
Although the dry skin is expected to peel off naturally, there are some Do’s and Don’ts which I found beneficial when dealing with my young ones and you can also try them out.
- Reducing the baby’s bath time: bathing the baby for long will eliminate natural oils from their skin thereby enhancing the severity of dry skin. If you want to see a significant difference in your baby’s skin then reduce the bath time.
- Avoiding Soaps: Soap and other bathing products with fragrance should be avoided at all costs. During the first few weeks with my newborns, I consistently used baby wash products that were soap-free or just plain water. Alternatively, bath oils that are water-dispersible also proved to be effective.
- Lukewarm water: avoid using hot water to give your baby baths because it has a higher tendency of drying up the skin even more.
- Fragrance-free moisturizers or baby oil: if a baby has dry skin, use non-irritating baby oil or cream that’s fragrance-free. Personally, Vaseline or olive oil was my go-to baby oil. Non-scented and hypoallergenic moisturizing creams are also good alternatives. They have low amounts of artificial additives and good for massage.
- Ensuring that the baby is well-hydrated: if your newborn is not older than 6 months, avoid giving the drinking water. But it’s also vital to keep them hydrated, so give them more milk.
- Keeping them warm: extremely cold temperatures in addition to cold air can make a newborn’s dry skin condition worse. So, ensure that they are in a warm environment and if you are going out, cover them with socks, mittens etc. Note that dry air can worsen the situation. Things such as heaters make the air dry and this can easily aggravate the baby’s skin condition. Either reduce their usage or use a cool humidifier to enhance the moisture levels in your home
- Using Organic detergents: remember that a newborn’s skin is very sensitive. Their clothes should, therefore, be washed separately with mild detergents that have been specifically designed for babies.
- Choosing clothes that are made with natural fabrics: in order to protect the baby’s skin, they should only wear clothes that are made with natural fabrics. These clothes are usually non-abrasive and gentle on the skin. Besides that, they allow the baby’s skin to breath easily. The best clothes for newborns are those that are made with cotton fabrics.
Generally, there is no method which can be used to completely stop a newborn’s skin from drying up and peeling off. The above –mentioned techniques helped me to manage my babies’ dry skin and accelerated the peeling process. Also, you need to stay vigilant because dry skin could also be a sign or psoriasis or eczema.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
If it’s the normal dry skin which many newborns experience, the strategies mentioned above should help ease the severity of dry skin. And although the symptoms will not disappear overnight, there is a good chance that your baby will end up with a supple, smooth skin within a few days. However, if the patches of dry skin continue to spread and they are itchy or have cracks, then you should consult a pediatrician.