So, you’ve brought your precious baby home and reality has slowly set in. The sleepless nights of waking up every three hours to feed your newborn. Learning how to sterilise bottles and change nappies. Not to mention the anxiety – around giving your baby a bath and how to care for their newborn skin. All with a view - to keeping your newborn baby comfortable, happy and healthy.
Luckily, as the saying goes: practice makes perfect. In filling up the bath at just the right temperature. In mastering a safe, bath cleansing holding technique. (Woo hoo!) Yet, even then, we realise that there is still so much to learn. In particular - caring for our newborn baby’s sensitive skin. In understanding how it reacts to our ever-changing environment. How their skin can even be affected by our inner surroundings.
Which is why in this article, we’ll share some very important tips for maintaining a proper post-bath skin care routine. We’ll pinpoint the changes that occur in your baby's skin after bath time. How to choose the right products and what safety precautions to consider when caring for a newborn's skin. Plus, we’ve added some very special considerations for maintaining a proper skin care routine in autumn!
newborn after bath skin care routine for new mums
first things first … choosing the right products
To start, try avoiding products in your household that contain a laundry list of chemicals. This includes parabens, alcohols, synthetics or chemical agents - that can be extremely irritating for a baby. They will compromise bub’s thin dermal layer and may lead to dry and sensitive skin. So, maybe now is a good time to think of keeping clean, natural products on your bathroom shelves, full stop.
But how, you ask? The answer lies in finding products containing ingredients that are free from nasties, dyes, sulphites and harsh chemicals. This is because choosing specific cleansing products will do wonders to keep your baby’s skin healthy and hydrated.
Mild and naturally made products are key. Chemical-free cleansers, shampoos, lotions and barrier creams are the go. They’ll commonly help baby’s delicate skin retain moisture, stay soft + supple and protect their skin barrier. Using plant-based, tested ingredients are also known to be a safe, recommended option, as they don’t contain any nasties!
drying your newborn
After bathing your baby gently with your chosen hero product, the next step is to dry their little body. Start by patting their skin dry in-between their creases. They are located under the armpits, groin, under the chin, around the neck and behind the ears. Then check over their skin to make sure there are no trouble spots. If not dried thoroughly, irritant build-up can occur. Saliva, dirt and impurities can easily get stuck in these folds and trapped in the nappy area. Which in most cases - can lead to irritation, infection and … loads of discomfort!
According to raisingchildren.net.au, the proper technique for drying a newborn includes:
lifting out of the bath
Support your baby’s head and neck. Lift your baby out of the bath. Place them on their back on a clean, dry, soft towel. If possible, dry your baby on the floor so they can’t fall. If you’re changing your baby on a raised surface like a change table, keep one hand on your baby.
pat baby dry
To begin, wrap bubs in a soft towel and pat baby dry. Dry baby’s skin creases. These are under the armpits, in the groin area and under the chin. Also, in the folds of their arms and legs, around the neck and behind the ears.
test for dryness
If baby’s skin is dry, apply a chemical-free moisturiser or ointment to those spots on your baby’s skin. Or to make things easier, moisturise them fully to avoid dryness.
test for nappy rash
If your baby has nappy rash, apply a barrier cream to the nappy area.
get baby dressed
Dress your baby, putting their nappy on first.
place baby down safely
Place your baby in a safe place, like a cot or bassinette and empty the bathwater.
here’s a tip:
Always have a towel, a fresh change of clothes and a clean nappy already laid out before drying and dressing your baby!
moisturising your newborn
why you need to
Moisturising adds softness and nourishment back into bub’s thin skin layer after bathing. As sometimes, dry or rough spots may be missed. It’s also essential to keep their skin hydrated as their skin may be highly sensitive and can dry out easily. This can lead to flaky, itchy skin –especially in autumn. As in autumn, sunny but dry weather can still be dehydrating, leaving skin feeling dry and chapped.
If bub’s skin is becoming irritable and flaky from sweating and heat rash, moisturise them daily for the best results. To retain moisture in a baby’s skin, it’s essential to apply it immediately after a bath. Also, remember to choose the right moisturising lotion that has zero nasties and that doesn’t contain synthetic ingredients. For these may cause long-term dryness or irritation on their 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. When put on, it will help leave your baby’s skin feeling soft, calm and nourished.
apply when damp
According to certified dermatologist Dr. Dina Strachan at healthonline.com, a natural skin moisturiser should be applied immediately after a bath. “When skin is already damp, it's hydrated,” she states. “The moisturiser can then 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
Avoid a moisturiser that contains chemicals or synthetics as they may disrupt the skin and cause irritation + allergic reactions.
Avoid dipping in 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. 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
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 the likelihood of dryness, chapping + dehydration. So, their skin can be highly sensitive. To prevent flare-ups or rashes inside and outside your home, it’s important to protect your newborn’s skin. Help them adjust to the season’s elements by understanding exactly what these elements are.
special considerations for autumn
As we are coming into autumn, the air becomes dryer, which draws moisture from our skin. The condensation in the air changes. The sun’s UV rays decrease. Our bodies must constantly adjust to extremes in temperature. This can leave our skin feeling dry + flaky, even if we are still feeling the heat of the sun!
So, it’s the same for a newborn.
As soon as autumn hits, your baby’s skin care regime will need to change as well. You may need to protect their skin from the sun by using some sun protection by:
- - keeping them in the shade
- - moisturising their skin daily
- - feeding them more frequently
- - keeping them from sweating and developing heat rash by dressing them in breathable, cotton fabrics
tips for maintaining a proper post-bath skin care routine for newborns
Congratulations! You’ve uncovered the reasons you should adopt a consistent after-bath skin care routine for your newborn! Now, let’s look at some more tried and tested tips to protect their skin from the elements!
remember to … choose the right products
Avoid harsh chemicals and include mild and natural plant-based options.
remember to … use proper skin care techniques
With tried + tested after-bath washing techniques - like drying and moisturising.
more tips to protect newborn skin from the elements in autumn!
clear the air
Did you know that the perfume on our own skin and clothes may also affect baby’s skin? If bubs is extremely sensitive to synthetics, you may have to ditch your favourite candles or room scents. In fact, even air fresheners in the car may have to be ditched. In airing these spaces out, you can leave room for bubs to cleanly 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 fabrics sticking out of your baby’s clothes? How about those new blankets that scratch or cause irritation? With new bedding or clothing items, you might double-check that there aren’t any hidden nasties that could bother bub’s skin.
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 dressing your baby in the right-sized clothes and nappies that are not too tight? Avoiding tight skin friction is the best way to let bub’s skin breathe and avoid heat rashes.
Other things to be aware of:
- - wrapping bubs too tightly when swaddled
- - making sure your baby carrier is resting comfortably around bubs
When taking your baby outside in autumn, they still need protection from the sun and heat. Think hats, 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 sunhat
- - dress them in beanies, socks and booties to prevent heat from escaping their body when outside. Consider if these layers are necessary when indoors
- - offer bubs plenty of breast milk/water to avoid dehydration
Sensitive skin can cause lots of stress for babies, parents and caregivers alike. The good news? It is completely normal and often manageable, especially coming into the autumn season! So, maintain a proper post-bath skin care routine for newborns. Take the appropriate steps to keep your baby’s skin healthy and comfortable. The more you practice and perfect these steps, the more confident you’ll become. That in the coming months, you’ll no doubt be able to enjoy some quality time with your little bubba!
And always remember what to do if baby’s symptoms persist. If dry + sensitive skin has no intention of slowing down? If your products don’t seem to be making much of a difference? Then by all means – listen to your motherly instincts. Seek advice from your health nurse, local GP, or pediatrician, and as long as you are consistent, all will be well.
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!