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Good beginnings: baby skin care

At different stages of our lives, our skins need different care

October 3, 2011
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As we progress through the different stages of life, it is important to remember that our skin is also changing. As we age, our skin needs different levels of care – and how we treat our skin now will influence what we need to do later on. So it's important to start off well. Not only do babies and young children have undeveloped immune systems and need special care and protection for their delicate skin, but it's essential to try and pre-empt problems - young children can't tell us if they start itching or experiencing other non-visible warning signs.


Your doctor, midwife or health visitor will give you specific instructions on how to look after your new baby, but general guidelines include frequently washing your own hands to prevent passing infections, and bathing your baby daily using products specially designed for newborn skin. 

The umbilical area should be kept clean and disinfected, and if your baby has cradle cap – flaky skin that frequently appears on the scalp of newborns – you should check with your health visitor about whether you need to take any action beyond simple washing. 

Remember that early baths should be limited to sponge baths as tub bathing should wait until the baby's umbilical cord has fallen off and the stump has healed. 

When drying your baby after a bath, pay particular attention to skin folds in the nappy area to avoid chafing and nappy rash. Since a baby's skin is delicate and dries out easily, liberally apply a moisturiser after the bath. 

Nail care is very important, and should be considered part of the hygiene routine. Remember, unless you have someone to help you hold your baby still, it's often easier to deal with nails while they're asleep. Some mothers bite their baby's nails for the first few months to avoid using sharp scissors or clippers, but there is a risk of passing on germs from mum's mouth, so emery boards are probably the safest way to keep the smallest nails in trim. 

You should never use adult-sized clippers on a small child's nails. As always, if you have any doubts about what's best for you and baby, ask your health visitor for advice. 

As your baby starts crawling and then proceeds to the walking stage, general hygiene is still paramount. Cleanliness, moisturising, and sun protection are the three keys to healthy skin. As time goes on, and the child begins to understand more, it's important that he or she is aware of their importance – habits created when you're young will stick with you for life, so help your child get off to a good start.

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