|Skin Care Savvy
by SARA AHMAD
All about your baby's skin care
It starts out wrinkled, mottled, and most likely dotted with infant acne. Then, as those hazy first weeks pass, your newborn's skin evolves into the stuff of poetry – rosy, plump, and soft, enviably elastic, and infinitely kissable. But that buttery exterior comes with a price: A baby's skin is way more delicate than that of bigger kids and adults. Infant skin needs to be protected and cared. In other words, we can't take that kissability for granted. Here's how to ensure your child's skin stays baby soft, even long after she's a baby.
Daily tub time is perfectly fine. Even though babies don't get that dirty beyond their bums, it's fun and a nice way to wind them down. Just follow these guidelines:
Skip the soap: It can dry out your baby's skin. Instead, look for soap-free, fragrance-free mild cleansers and use them sparingly.
Pop the bubbles: Before 6 months, avoid bubble baths. After that, look for mild formulations and stick to just 15 to 20 minutes of bubble time once a week.
Slather on the lube: A quick coat of after-bath cream is as important as the bath itself. Dry skin can make your baby feel itchy and uncomfortable, and lead to inflamed skin that's more susceptible to infections. Follow the three-minute rule: Grease him up within about three minutes after taking him out of the bath – before all the water on his skin evaporates – to lock in the moisture.
Get creamed: If your baby's skin is especially dry, you may want to opt for a cream formulation, which is more protective, and stick with mild, fragrance-free products. Baby oil and even olive oil are fine, too. Apply the cream or oil on your baby's entire body, being careful to avoid the eyes.
The First 6 Months:
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has long recommended against the use of sunscreen for infants under 6 months. But it's not because sunscreen is dangerous for little ones; the AAP just doesn't want parents to develop a false sense of security when they take their sun-sensitive newborns outside. So while some docs might suggest keeping your young baby indoors during peak sun hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), then cloaking him in a blanket and heading straight for the shade or a pop-up tent when you do head outdoors – that's not always realistic.
What to do: Dress your baby comfortably for the weather, always put a hat on him, and make use of your stroller's sunshade, but do apply sunscreen to any part of his body that might be exposed to the sun. For the younger set, dermatologists recommend physical-barrier sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
The Second 6 Months:
Once your baby hits her half-birthday, you can switch to regular SPF sunscreens formulated for children.
Go high: The higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the better, but definitely make sure your child is wearing at least SPF 15 anytime she's in the sun. And throw out any sunscreen that's been open for more than a year; the effectiveness will be diminished.
Think ahead: Try to apply the sunscreen before you head outside; it's easy to forget once you're on the go, and even a few minutes of exposure is risky. A good idea is to slather it on before you get your baby dressed. That way, you protect the skin under her clothes, too. Then, reapply every two hours or after swimming, even if the product says it's waterproof.
Don't skimp: Apply an amount of sunscreen that's more than half the size of a golf ball. And don't forget the tops of your child's feet, her ears, and her nose.
Be D-fensive: Sunlight allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, and sunscreen blocks the absorption. But kids can also get this bone-building vitamin other ways. Don't skip the sunscreen: Provide vitamin D through fortified milk, juice, or supplements so that your child's skin isn't at risk.
A family history of allergies and/or asthma puts a baby at greater risk of having especially sensitive skin. But whatever her genes, talk to your paediatrician if your baby develops red, bumpy, or itchy patches after a bath or exposure to certain products or new clothes. She may refer you to a paediatric dermatologist for evaluation. In the meantime, use only mild cleansers, lotions, and creams that are free of fragrance and colour. Stick with cotton clothing and wash it in fragrance and dye-free detergent.
No, you're not a bad mom if your little beach bum gets a sunburn. It can be easy to miss a spot when you're on SPF duty, and kids do burn more easily than others. In the meantime, if her skin is reddened but not blistered, soothe it by holding a damp, cool washcloth against it or giving her a lukewarm bath and applying a moisturiser with aloe.