Caring for your Newborn Baby's Skin

Your newborn baby’s skin may be soft and glowing, or rashy, raw, and flaky. Despite the flawless skin depicted in newborn portraits like below, babies can suffer from a whole list of skin issues, incuding rashes, eczema, acne, and dry, flaky skin. Newborn babies skin is much more sensitive than adults skin. It might take some trial and error to figure out how to best manage your newborn baby’s skin so it’s healthy and glowing.

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Causes and Treatments of Different Baby Skin Issues

When a baby is born, they are born with a protective film called a Vernix. Rather than an immediate bath after birth, experts now recommend leaving this layer on a bit longer to help moisten baby’s delicate skin. Despite this, baby’s skin will likely dry and flake quite dramatically over the first few weeks. This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t be concerned. There is no need to cake baby’s skin with lotions or try to gently scrub the flakes away, as they will naturally peel off on their own.  As a newborn photographer, I adore documenting the presence of vernix!

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Less is more when it comes to your newborn baby’s skincare. Bathing should happen less frequently as this will prevent over-drying of the skin. Limit your newborn’s bath to two or three times a week. While in the bath, just rinse the baby with warm water or a gentle cleanser designed specifically for baby skin. Immediately after the bath, apply hypoallergenic lotion all over baby’s skin to help them retain some of the moisture.

Baby Eczema

One of the most challenging issues for new parents to deal with is eczema. This can be seen as rough, dry, itchy patches on baby’s skin. Most often, babies will get eczema on their cheeks, arms, and legs. Most children will outgrow their eczema by the time they start kindergarten.

Here are a few things that might cause your baby’s eczema:

-Synthetic or scratchy fabrics. Opt for soft, natural fibers when shopping for baby clothes.

-Heat and sweat. Try to keep your baby comfortably cool and dry.

-Some lotions, baby bath products, and laundry detergents can cause eczema.

-Food allergies

Diaper Rash

Another skin malady that just about every baby will suffer from during the early years is diaper rash. There can be several different causes of diaper rash, including

-Leaving a wet or dirty diaper on too long

-Diapers or clothing that fit too tightly

-Skincare products or medications used in the diaper area

-Antibiotic Use

-Foods that baby is allergic or sensitive to

To prevent diaper rashes, change your baby’s diaper frequently, and make sure your baby is completely dry before putting on a fresh diaper. To treat a diaper rash, clean the affected area gently, avoid baby wipes with alcohol or fragrance, and avoid baby powder altogether. Moisturize the diaper area with Vaseline or a protective ointment such as A&D. Make sure that the diaper is on tight enough to contain the contents, but not too tight.

Cradle Cap

Within your newborn’s first three months, she may develop a scalp condition called cradle cap. This is when your newborn baby produces too much sebum on her scalp. This oily scalp will cause crusting and yellow or white scales. A common treatment is to delicately wash your baby’s scalp with baby shampoo, gently massaging the scalp with a baby brush to loosen up the flakes. If your baby’s head is super crusty, doctors recommend applying baby oil for about 15 minutes prior to shampooing to loosen up the crust. In most cases, the cradle cap will resolve on its own. The good news is, while it might be unpleasant to look at, cradle cap typically won’t cause your baby any pain or discomfort.

Baby Acne

It may surprise many new parents to learn that babies can have acne. In fact, it’s much more common than you think. 40% of all newborn babies develop acne within two to three weeks of birth. This is due to maternal hormones still circulating in the infant’s body. Luckily, this acne resolves on its own and doesn’t require any harsh treatments. There is no special skin care regimen required to treat baby acne.

Contact Dermatitis

This is a term for skin irritation caused when baby’s skin comes in contact with something that irritates it. It might be soap, laundry detergent, or fragrances in wipes and lotions. You might have to do a bit of trial and error to figure out what is causing your baby’s contact dermatitis. Switch out baby washes and lotions, trade adult laundry soaps for ones designed specifically for baby’s clothes, and pay extra close attention to anything that comes in contact with your baby’s skin on a regular basis.

Prickly Heat Rash

It’s second nature to want to swaddle and wrap a new baby warmly. But too much warmth can cause skin issues. Prickly heat rash appears as tiny red bumps on baby’s bottom, back, neck and face. Luckily, the treatment for this is quite simple. Dress baby more lightly and bring her into a cool, air-conditioned room until the rash disappears.

Hope this helps you and your little one on your journey with skin care.  Be sure to contact your Pediatrician if you have any concerns or questions!  In the meantime, here are two sweet souls I've had the honor of capturing recently. You can learn more about session packages and investment HERE.  Enjoy!

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