Babies need to be kept clean, but frequent baths or over-cleaning can damage a new-born’s delicate skin. To properly care for your baby’s skin first you must understand some facts about your baby’s skin.
Many parents often wonder, how often should I bathe my baby? Do I really need to give him regular baths? How many times should I bathe my baby? How do I know if my baby is clean enough?
Baby’s skin is 30% thinner than adult skin, with a barrier function that is still thin and weak. This barrier function, which continues to develop during their first 12 months helps to protect the skin against harsh environmental elements like the sun and wind, but this barrier function can be disrupted by harsh soaps and cleansers. Although your baby’s skin is naturally more hydrated than yours in the first 12 months of life and it may seem visibly hydrated and soft even after cleansing, your baby’s skin actually loses moisture very easily. To prevent moisture loss from baby’s skin it needs proper care so that the barrier function remains healthy.
In the first days of your baby’s life, gentle care and hygiene are very important to protect your new-born’s delicate skin. Naturally, every parent wants the best for their baby and do not want to do anything that might lead to common skin troubles. However, there are some parents who go to the extreme and refuse to use any kind of cleanser at all, while others take the opposite view by insisting that their child is kept clean at all times, even if it means bathing them several times a day.
“As a general rule, babies can be bathed once or twice a day”; says paediatrician Dr. Foo Chee Hoe. This excludes regular cleansing between diaper changes and keeping their mouth and hands clean throughout the day. Despite our warm weather, avoid giving frequent baths so that your new-born’s delicate skin is able to maintain its natural moisture and pH balance. Most importantly, remember to use products that are clinically proven to be safe, mild and effective for babies.”
Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind for baby’s bath time:
- Prepare what you need in advance.
- Test the water temperature before putting baby in. Use a bath thermometer to check for atemperature of 37 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, dip your whole elbow into the water to test that it is not too hot or too cold.
- Keep it simple. All you need is a bath with warm water, a mild and gentle baby cleanser and a fresh towel, as well as a calm and safe space to undress and later dress your baby. If your baby is still very small, a small basin placed on a flat, stable surface such as a countertop may be easier for bathing your new-born rather than a full-sized baby bathtub. When using a baby bathtub, use a rubber mat to prevent baby from sliding.
- Stay calm. Your baby’s temperament will often reflect your own mood. Enjoy the bath time experience because every bath time can be a special moment to help a mother and her baby develop a stronger and deeper bond. To maximise the benefits, create a soothing ritual out of bath times; choose a time when you’re least likely to be interrupted, in between feeds so that he is neither full nor hungry, and use the time to interact fully with your child, without rushing.
- Give your full attention to your baby; distractions like the telephone ringing will just have to wait.
- Don’t leave your baby unattended even for a moment, regardless of whether he is in the tub or on the changing mat. Taking your attention away from your baby even for a second can affect his safety and well-being.
- Don’t use any kind of skincare or products that is not specifically formulated for babies as may contain ingredients that are too harsh for baby’s delicate skin, leaving it dry or irritated.
Baby Skincare Essentials
Choosing the right skincare for your baby is very important, as the right skincare regimen will help protect your baby’s skin health and early development. While there are a great variety of options available, it’s important to use a trusted and established brand, with a long history of safe and trusted products. The ideal cleanser for babies is one that safely and mildly cleanses without drying your baby’s skin. It does not cause irritation or inflammation, and respects baby’s sensitive skin barrier by maintaining the skin’s natural pH level. As harsh soaps and cleansers can damage the skin barrier, causing the skin to lose its natural moisture and making the skin more vulnerable to irritants, it’s essential to choose products that are specially formulated for babies, which are hypoallergenic and clinically proven to be mild and gentle.
Dr. Foo Chee Hoe is the co-founder of Doktorbudak.com. This feature is an educational initiative by Doktorbudak.com, with support from Johnson’s Baby. For more information, visit www.doktorbudak.com