There’s nothing quite like a newborn baby. Their beauty, innocence and mysterious perfection can take your breath away. Until birth, your baby had everything she needed; tucked up and protected in your womb. However, all that changes after birth when her delicate skin needs extra special care.
Here are five tips for keeping your baby’s skin as pure as the day she was born:
Don’t wash it off! Fresh out of the womb, babies are covered with the most wonderfully thick, creamy, moisturising substance called vernix caseosa. It provides perfect protection for the baby’s skin as it encounters the harsh climate of the outside world for the first time. Scientists have studied the components of vernix and have identified lipids, amino acids, proteins and beneficial microbes. Vernix is mother nature’s perfect moisturiser!
When we speak about vernix, we can’t help but mention the microbiome as well. The human microbiome is used to describe the bacterial world found on – and in – humans. A baby is virtually microbe free before its mother’s waters break. The first microbes to encounter the newborn’s body come from the birth canal. These microbes colonise deep into the skin and influence the skin microbiome all the way into adulthood. Babies born via C-section do not have the same microbial colonisation and are more prone to eczema and other skin conditions.
Vernix is wonderful – let your newborn absorb it.
2. Keep it simple
Don’t be fooled by smart marketing. Babies need very little after they are born. Savour the golden hour (that first hour post-birth) where one can establish breastfeeding and enjoy immediate skin-to-skin contact.
Babies are clean – they don’t need a bath immediately after birth. In fact, the World Health Organisation advises delaying baby’s first bath for 24 hours. When you are ready to give your baby her first bath, simply use clean water or a completely natural wash. Harsh, synthetically fragranced soaps strip the body of its natural oils.
3. Trouble skin
It is quite common for babies to develop what we call ‘baby acne’. These are tiny pink bumps on a baby’s face, neck and chest (occurs in a fifth of all newborns in their first month of life). Often it disappears by itself, and there is not much you can do – the cause is often related to the presence of the mother’s hormones in the baby’s body after birth.
Unlike adult acne, infant acne requires no special treatment. Try to keep your baby’s skin clean and dry, and don’t squeeze the bumps or apply any lotions.
4. Don’t be tempted by that ‘baby smell’
Don’t expose your precious little bundle to unnecessary chemicals. Increasingly we are learning of the devastating long-term effects of chemicals in baby products. A newborn’s skin is extremely delicate, and it is important to avoid any products with the words ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ in the ingredient list (unless these have been approved for use in certified organic products). Conventional synthetic fragrances in baby products are one of the leading causes of allergies and irritation on the skin. Safe organic essential oils are nature’s way of providing the most wonderful, honest and natural scents. Pure essential oils are completely volatile, which means you get that beautiful natural fragrance when bathing and applying lotion, but because the products don’t sit on the skin, there’s no irritation.
Introduce products with natural pure essential oil fragrances whenever you are ready, as they’re completely safe. However, we do recommend fragrance-free in the first few weeks to assist with mom and baby bonding.
5. Anticipating nappy rash
The most common skin ailment one can expect with a newborn is the dreaded nappy rash. Unfortunately, the materials which keep disposable nappies from leaking, also prevent air from circulating, and this, combined with the fact that a baby’s skin barrier is not yet fully formed (the skin structure is still developing and the layers of epidermis are thinner than in adults), creates the ideal environment for a rash to develop. When it comes to your newborn’s little bottom, the cleaner and drier the skin, the better.
Regardless of whether you’re using disposable or cloth nappies, we recommend you use natural (ideally biodegradable) wipes, and a natural bum cream to create a thick barrier on your baby’s bottom. If a rash does develop, treat the affected skin with a bum cream that contains natural plant oils (rather than petroleum bases), which allow the skin to breathe, supports a healthy microbiome and has a pH that matches the natural pH of the skin. Also remember that it’s a good idea to give your baby some nappy-free time for a few minutes each day.
By creating healthy skincare habits and following these simple tips, we hope that you will spend less time worrying, and more time cuddling with your baby.