Optimizing The Care Of Your Baby's Skin

baby health baby skin care pediatric dermatology pediatric skin care pediatrics skin doc for kids Dec 05, 2022

Life with a new baby can be joyous and wonderful, but it can also be stressful as any parent will attest. As parents of a baby will know all too well, you will get advice on how to take care of your baby from anyone and everyone! Even the child-free grocery store checkout clerk may offer their ‘free’ advice. But when it comes to your baby’s skin, it’s best to trust a dermatologist with experience taking care of children. I recently spoke to my colleague, pediatric dermatologist Dr. Sheilagh Maguiness, on 'The Skin Real' podcast about how to optimize the care of our baby’s skin. She gave some great advice which I will share here.

  1. Don’t be afraid to bathe your baby.

Once the umbilical stump has fallen off (usually 2 weeks after birth), it is safe to immerse your baby in a bath (of course with adult supervision at ALL times!). Use lukewarm water and let your baby soak in the tub while they enjoy closeness with you. Be sure to also let the scalp skin soak in water and let water run over the face gently. This helps slough off dead skin cells and actually hydrates the skin. Simply soaking in water is enough to clean most of a baby's skin at times. A gentle cleanser can be used in the diaper area and scalp. It is best to avoid bubble baths and fragrances in soaping products as this can irritate the skin, and babies already smell delicious enough!

  1. Immediately after the bath, apply a moisturizer.

This is known as the ‘soak and smear’ technique and it is so important for babies whose skin is still maturing and developing. Immediately after the bath, pat the skin dry with a clean towel and then apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to their entire body. Use a thick emollient like petrolatum (Vaseline) or a thick cream. Look for something designated fragrance-free, for sensitive skin and recommended by dermatologists.

  1. Avoid the sun before 6 months of age with sun protective measures; then use a mineral-based sunscreen after 6 months.

Babies delicate skin needs protection from the sun and heat as they have trouble regulating their temperature and their skin can burn easily. Use the canopy on the stroller and hats when outdoors. Rash guards are a great idea for beach and pool time. After 6 months, it is safe to use a mineral-based (think zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) sunscreen product on their skin when outdoors.

Dr. Maguiness also gave some great advice on diaper rash (use a thick barrier for protection like petrolatum or zinc oxide) and how we should avoid any fragrances in babies as this is a common irritant (also for adults).

For more info and to hear my interview with Dr. Maguiness, be sure to check out my podcast, The Skin Real at


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