Although being a first-time parent is full of joy, it can also be very stressful.
You may find yourself wondering about all sorts of baby care issues, including how to look after their delicate skin or why your little one has yet another rash. You also may have questions about how to care for your baby’s umbilical cord or what skin care products you need.
As a first-time parent, knowledge is power. Read on for five fundamental things to know about caring for baby’s skin.
1. There’s such a thing as too clean
If you’re a first-time parent, you may be tempted to wash your little one once a day or after every meal or spill. The truth is, babies don’t need frequent baths or even daily baths in their first year.
For many babies, three baths per week is just fine, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you bathe them much more often, you may dry out their skin.
When you do give your baby a bath, you should follow some of these general tips:
- Keep the water warm — but not hot — so your baby doesn’t get cold.
- Use only water on their face area, not soap.
- When washing their body, use only a small amount of soap that doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes.
- Gently clean your baby’s scalp with a soft brush and a small amount of soap or mild soap-free cleanser.
2. Mind the umbilical cord
One of the first things you’ll notice is that a part of the umbilical cord is still attached to your baby’s belly button. The small section of cord will dry out and eventually fall off on its own.
According to Mayo Clinic, the cord should fall off within 1 to 3 weeks. Until then, you should keep the area dry and avoid submerging your baby in bathwater; use sponges or wipes instead.
You should follow all the instructions that your baby’s doctor gives you about caring for the umbilical cord. You don’t need to worry about the cord unless you notice symptoms such as:
- pus coming from the cord
- bleeding from the end or near the skin
- apparent pain near their belly button
- redness or swelling of the area
3. When it comes to products, keep it simple
You don’t need many products to provide care for your baby’s skin. In general, less is often better. Many conditions that affect your baby’s skin, including patches of dry skin, will typically clear without the use of lotions or creams.
If you do need to use a product, follow the advice of your baby’s doctor, and always try to buy an organic product. In general, you should avoid products that contain:
Some products you may want to have on hand to care for your baby’s skin include:
- baby shampoo and soap that have gentle cleansers
- baby wipes that are fragrance and dye-free
- nappy cream
- Vaseline or A-D lotion
4. Rashes will happen
Your baby’s skin is prone to getting rashes; however, a lot of common rashes, patches, and spots may not need treatment. These include:
- Baby acne: red, pimple-like rash that appears on the face
- Contact dermatitis: a rash that happens after coming in contact with a lotion, soap, detergent, or other material
- Cradle cap: crusty patches that appear on the scalp
- Cutis marmorata: skin that appears blue-pinkish due to cold temperatures
- Diaper rash: a rash that appears around the genitals or buttocks from contact with urine or stool
- Eczema: a condition that causes itchy, dry, and scaly skin
- Erythema toxicum: a splotchy red rash that may have red or yellow bumps and typically appears on the second day of life
- Heat rash: a red rash that appears after overheating
- Milia: tiny whiteheads on the face
- Slate gray nevi: also called Mongolian spots, these are flat birthmarks that can be deep brown, slate gray, or blue-black and often show up on the buttocks
- Vernix: a greasy white substance there since birth that can cause skin peeling
If the rash doesn’t go away on its own after a few days, or if your baby is in obvious discomfort or has a temperature of 37.5°C or higher, you should take them to see their doctor.
Do your best to identify any triggers that may have caused the rash, but keep in mind that rashes are common and a normal part of childhood.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You’re not in this alone. Don’t be afraid to ask your baby’s doctor or healthcare provider for advice.
If you’re not sure about a rash, call your baby’s doctor. They can go over the symptoms you’re seeing and help determine if there’s a problem. If your doctor thinks there may be an issue, you can schedule an appointment so they can take a look.
Your baby’s skin will require some different steps to take care of it, but don’t let that overwhelm you.
Remember that you don’t need to bathe them as much as you may think. Plus, rashes are common and often don’t need any specialised treatment.
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your child’s doctor for help.