Hello parents, caregivers and grandparents! It’s that time of year again, where autumn, the season of change, is upon us! The weather is changing its tune – with multi-coloured leaves swirling and falling on the ground in gusts of wind. With rain falling and creating puddles for children to enjoy jumping in. And yet … amidst this cooler season – our baby’s skin is also feeling the slight crispness – that autumn can bring.
This month, we thought we’d be mindful of autumn’s moisture-robbing temperatures. Of how the wind and rain can affect bub’s delicate skin. And moreover - how we can maintain a proper skin care routine for our newborns in autumn.
Panic not, parents! In this article, we’ll explain why protecting your newborn skin is essential for babies in autumn. With step-by-step cleansing tips. Skin care techniques. And lastly, the right natural products to use – to keep bub’s skin healthy and supple in the drier seasons.
how to prepare newborn's skin for Autumn
understanding the changes in the weather for baby’s skin
As soon as we let go of summer’s humidity, Autumn’s cool change arrives. With crisp, dry air, and wet, moist temperatures that can dry out a baby’s sensitive skin. This is because their epidermis is vulnerable and thin - making it difficult for their skin to hold in moisture. Also, autumn is a cooler season, that is essentially preparing us for winter. This means babies need to retain heat to stay warm too. And finally, due to the wind and dust, babies are also prone to dirt and impurities that appear. Leading to skin irritation and infections that may seemingly appear out of nowhere.
What’s a parent to do? Here’s where a good cleansing routine comes in, with the right products to nourish your newborn baby’s skin.
but firstly … understanding the importance of a good cleansing routine
Proper, gentle cleansing in autumn can help maintain the health and texture of your baby’s dry and delicate skin. Perfecting your own after-bath cleansing routine will rid baby’s skin of autumn’s elements. Skin issues can include chapped lips, rosy, red cheeks, dry, itchy skin, dirt and other impurities. If not cleansed and bathed thoroughly, a build-up of sweat can also easily get stuck in their baby folds. Located in their arms, legs, underneath their chins. Irritation can also develop in their nappy area, which in some cases - may lead to infection and … loads of discomfort!
choosing the right products
Products that are deemed mild and made for infant skin ‘only’ are your hero products. Items like chemical-free cleansers. Shampoos. Lotions and barrier creams. All of these will commonly help baby’s delicate skin retain moisture. It will help their skin feel soft and supple. And above all, protect their skin barrier. Tested ingredients that are natural and plant-based are also known to be a safe, recommended option, as they are chemical-free.
According to midwife & maternal health nurse, Belinda Joyce, specific cleansing products will keep your baby’s skin healthy and hydrated. However, she highly suggests that parents ask a pharmacist first which products are suitable for their baby’s skin care needs.
Words to avoid?
- - antibacterial
- - alcohol
- - astringent
- - sodium lauryl sulfate
- - talcum or baby powder - as they have very fine particles that can be inhaled, which is dangerous for a baby’s developing lungs
sponge baths vs. full baths
In autumn, it’s important to keep bubs clean, but not over-dry their skin. To do this, a sponge bath is recommended. It’s a great way to remove dirt and particles yet keep their natural skin supple without stripping them of moisture. Simply give bubs a quick swipe of their face and bottom with a warm wet washer minus the cleanser. Simply top and tail and freshen them up. You may also give their hands a wipe-over too. And when you’re tired? Bingo! It means you don’t have to fill the tub, fully undress your baby, and submerge them in the bath.
However, if a full bath is more your style, we can’t blame you mama. As it will be a precious bonding experience for you and your newborn baby!
temperature of water
In dry weather, did you know that a bath’s temperature can be lowered? This is so bubs won’t likely overheat and strip their skin of dryness. The water should be around 37-38 degrees Celsius. You can use a bath thermometer or if you don’t have one, use your wrist/elbow to test. It should feel warm, but not hot! Always use your wrist or elbows, never fingers or hands. This is because our hands are used to hot water and not helpful in testing the temperature!
and remember … be gentle
A surefire way to connect with your baby’s autumn bath time ritual is to use a gentle washing technique. Cradling them under their upper back and neck. Then with your fingers encircling their upper arm so that they can’t slip under the water. Your other hand can then be free to wash your baby!
an efficient moisturising routine
why you need to
Moisturising your baby after a bath does a lot of good. It adds softness + nourishment back into bub’s thin skin layer. It ensures that there are no dry or rough spots that may be missed. And in autumn, it combats flaky, itchy skin that the dry weather can bring.
choosing the right products
Just like cleansers, less is more when it comes to hydration products. A baby’s sensitive skin needs quality hydration all year round. This should include a natural, chemical-free moisturising lotion that keeps moisture in. To retain nourishment in a baby’s skin, it’s essential to apply it immediately after a bath. Do this by choosing the right lotion that has zero-nasties. That doesn’t contain synthetic ingredients + artificial scents. For these they may cause long-term dryness or irritation on baby’s skin.
For all-over smoothness after bath time, try choosing a rich moisturiser packed with plant-based goodness to replenish skin moisture. Also check to see if it is dermatologically tested. That when put on, it helps leave your baby’s skin feeling soft, calm and nourished.
proper moisturising techniques
apply when damp
After a bath when skin is slightly damp, apply the cream to the skin. Do this as it will absorb better when their skin is wet. According to dermatologist Dr. Dina Strachan at healthonline.com, she suggests this technique as it helps seal moisture in. “When skin is already damp, it's hydrated,” she states. “The moisturiser can either provide more hydration or just seal it in. This then helps reduce the chances of the baby’s skin becoming dry and flaky.”
According to momjunction.com, here are some safety measures you can follow when applying lotion to your newborn’s skin:
make sure there is no contact with baby’s eyes
Babies tend to put their hands in their mouth and eyes. If you have applied a generous coat of cream, it may cause a reaction.
apply lotion immediately
Apply moisturiser immediately after a bath to prevent dry, irritable skin.
use a chemical-free lotion
Don’t use a moisturiser that contains chemicals or synthetics as they may disrupt the skin and cause irritation and allergic reactions.
Don’t dip your finger or a spoon to take out the cream from the bottle of lotion. This will contaminate the cream. To do this, use pump bottles or airless jars instead. As direct contact from the tube to the baby’s skin will lower the risk of contamination.
here’s a tip:
If you think that your baby’s skin is drier than usual, you may apply lotion 2 to 4 times a day!
tips to protecting the newborn from the elements
Remember, the skin of a newborn is known to be extremely delicate. It’s naturally more sensitive than the skin of older children or adults. This is because a baby’s skin barrier is not yet fully developed. A thin skin barrier can increase sensitivity. The likelihood of dryness, chapping and dehydration in skin can escalate in autumn and become highly sensitive. To prevent seasonal flare-ups inside and outside your home, it’s important to protect your newborn from the season’s elements. Do this by choosing the right products for their delicate skin.
techniques for protection in autumn
When it comes to autumn, a baby’s chances of being exposed to sunburn is still a reality. This is due to babies having less melanin pigment in their skin. Melanin is responsible for protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Until babies grow and develop more, their skin will remain super sensitive and more vulnerable to the sun. So, protect your newborn baby’s skin by keeping it covered with out and about with the shade of your pram. Also, dress your baby in breathable layers, by popping on a beanie, booties and mittens too.
In autumn, the wind can dehydrate their skin, leaving it dry and chapped. But even simple things we aren’t aware of, like indoor heating can dry out baby’s skin too. A way to combat this is by boosting bubs with extra hydration in autumn to pump up their liquid intake. Give them extra formula or breastfeed them more frequently. Check their hydration by making sure they are producing enough wet nappies. Typically, this may be 6-10 nappies per day, but is different for every baby. So, you may find you need to take a bit of extra care with bub’s hydration routine in autumn.
tips for maintaining a proper skin care routine for newborns during autumn
Keen to adopt a great after-bath skin care routine for your newborn in autumn? If so, let’s try some tried and tested tips to protect their skin from the elements!
remember to … choosing the right products
Avoid harsh chemicals and instead include mild and natural plant-based options.
remember to … use proper skin care techniques
With tried and tested after-bath washing techniques - like pat drying and moisturising.
clear the irritants away
Did you know that air fresheners may also affect our baby’s skin, especially if their skin is extremely sensitive? Check the chemicals + synthetics lying around your home. You may have to rethink your favourite candles, incense or room scents around the house and even in the car. In airing these spaces out, you can leave room for bubs to adjust to their new surroundings.
Furthermore, it helps to:
- - open windows and air out your home out regularly
- - vacuum your home frequently particularly in areas where baby is lounging or rolling across the floor
- - avoid extreme temperature changes by adjusting central heating and air conditioning
remove hidden nasties
Notice those pesky labels or frayed fabric that could be sticking out of your baby’s clothes or blankets? When buying any new bedding or clothing, you might double-check that there aren’t any hidden nasties!
Always remember to:
- - wash bub’s new clothing - to rinse away extra chemicals that may linger on the clothes in production
- - remove labels that could scratch or irritate the back of bub’s neck
- - cut away loose fibers or hairs that could become entwined tightly around bub’s fingers
avoid any tightness
Are you over-dressing your baby for the sake of autumn weather? To avoid their skin getting dry and itchy, let bub’s skin breathe in cotton, layered clothing.
Other things to be aware of:
- - wrapping bubs too tightly when swaddled
- - making sure your baby carrier is resting comfortably and not too tight around bubs
When taking your baby outside in autumn, they still need protection from the sun and heat. Think beanies, booties, longer sleeves and pram shades when you go outside. Remember to moisturise bub’s skin well and to hydrate them in autumn, so their skin gets enough moisture.
Autumn is a time to:
- - keep their heads covered with a beanie
- - dress them in booties to prevent heat from escaping their body when outside. Yet, consider if these layers are necessary when indoors
- - offer bubs plenty of breast milk/water to avoid dehydration
Sensitive skin in autumn can cause lots of stress for newborns, parents and caregivers alike. The good news? It is completely normal and often manageable, especially coming into the autumn season! By maintaining a proper post-bath skin care routine for newborns, take the appropriate steps. Keeping your baby’s skin healthy and supple. And in time, you’ll no doubt be able to enjoy some quality time with your newborn baby!
And if bub’s dry and sensitive skin has no signs of slowing down? Then by all means – listen to your motherly instincts. Seek advice from your health nurse, local GP, or pediatrician, and keep forging ahead!
Nicole Salinger is a wellness and beauty copywriter @bboxforkids and @bboxbody. She’s also a fellow mama-raiser of 4 grown humans. She is here to share the truth - and nothing but the truth – about the precious journey of Motherhood – and how to maintain your balance, wellbeing and inner peace with children in tow!