Becoming a mom is one of the most beautiful but also scary feeling. Despite the joy of meeting the baby for the first time, you probably have dozens of unanswered questions. How to change a diaper, how to avoid skin rash and how to use baby lotion are only some of them.
Talking about baby lotion, the questions don’t end to how to use it. You probably want to know if it’s safe to use it since birth. The composition of the lotion and choosing the right brand are other mysteries to solve.
I remember the hassle of finding everything out when I had my first baby. And how scared I was of doing something wrong. The skin is the largest human organ, therefore it’s easy to understand why you should give special care to your baby’s skin.
The first thing new moms should understand and keep in mind is that there are fundamental differences between adult and baby skin. Since birth and up to about twelve years of age, the skin evolves and develops, just like all the other organs of your little one. This means that your baby’s skin will need different cosmetics and skin care products up to adolescence. Let’s understand more about this matter.
UNDERSTANDING BABY SKIN
When claiming that baby skin is different, pediatricians and cosmetologists mean that the skin of a baby or young child is physiologically different than the skin of an adult, despite the histological resemblance. There are at least two important differences between the skin of babies and adults.
The first important difference is the fact that baby skin doesn’t produce sebaceous and apocrine secretions. In other words, the skin doesn’t have sebum and for this reason, it tends to be dry.
Besides the lack of lubrication, the most superficial part of the epidermis is also thinner compared to the adult skin and consequently, the skin is more delicate and exposed to external agents such as physical injuries and chemicals.
These factors characterize the skin of babies and children throughout their whole childhood up to adolescence. For this reason, the choice of cosmetics and baby lotions should be limited. Moms should promote the use of those baby lotions with few ingredients and simple formulas, even better if made of natural ingredients.
BABY LOTION FOR NEWBORNS AND INFANTS
In the period that goes from birth to about one year of age, babies need little and controlled cosmetic treatment. The only products to use on your baby’s skin are a cleaning oil and a baby lotion designed to protect the skin from rashes. The only addition to these products is an absorbing talc if you want to reduce diaper rash, although many pediatricians and dermatologists advise against its use.
The cleaning oil, also known as baby oil, is used to hydrate the skin of the babies and it can be used on all body parts, including the baby’s head and intimate areas, without touching the mucous membranes. When choosing this oil, make sure it is made of natural ingredients of vegetal origin and that it is free of fragrances. Sweet almond oil or coconut oil is ideal for newborns and infants.
As a natural alternative to the cleaning oil, you can use pure rice starch with no fragrances. Rice starch is only suitable to use after the umbilical cord has fallen and only added to the bath water. You can also add one teaspoon of sea salt to the bath water to mineralize the skin.
In this period it is recommended to avoid using any type of shampoo. It is useless and does nothing else than drying your baby’s skin even further.
Most moms are tempted to use baby lotion right after a bath. However, if you follow the specialist recommendation and clean the baby with baby oil and water without using shampoos and soaps, your baby’s skin will need no further hydration.
For this reason, the use of the baby lotion should be limited to the change of the diaper. At this stage, the skin should still be cleaned with baby oil but for reasons of comfort and convenience, many parents decide to use baby wipes.
The wipes dry out the skin, therefore the use of a baby lotion is recommended. Baby lotions are also designed to provide a protective layer on the skin and reduce diaper rash. There are many ointments and creams to choose from and the vast majority are formulated to reduce all types of rashes.
When choosing the baby lotion, the same rules mentioned above apply. Choose a lotion made of natural ingredients and that contain few to no chemicals.
Regarding the use of talcum powder when changing the diaper, it is strongly recommended to avoid it. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and it is usually used to give the baby a sense of comfort when making pee and poo. But if you keep a good hygiene and change the baby as soon as needed, this product is useless.
Moreover, it is believed that there is a connection between talcum powder and some types of cancer. Instead of it, clean the baby when needed and apply a thin layer of baby lotion.
BABY LOTION FOR TODDLERS
After the baby’s first birthday and up to about twelve years of age, the skin maintains the same physiological characteristics reminded above. The skin doesn’t yet produce sebaceous or apocrine secretions, therefore there is no need to use bubble baths and soaps. These skincare products do nothing but irritate the baby’s skin.
For the regular hygiene of your baby and child, pediatricians still recommend using baby oil and water. You can add a fluid cleansing emulsion to clean the baby’s face and body after the third birthday, but your bundle of joy won’t need anything else in terms of cleansing.
Some products with a good emollient function are the neutral baby soaps that are mild on the skin and specially formulated to moisturize rather than dry the skin.
If you decide to replace the baby oil with a baby soap, choose one that is formulated without aggressive surfactants, that produces little to no foam and that contains little to no fragrances. The same goes for the hair shampoo. Try to choose a product based on natural ingredients that are not aggressive on the skin.
Regardless of the type of shampoo you use, make sure to dilute it with water before using it and to rinse it immediately.
A baby lotion can still be used to reduce diaper rash and other rashes made of insects or environmental elements. However, from the moment your baby outgrows the diapers stage, change the baby lotion with a moisturizing baby cream with soothing and emollient actions.
During sun exposure, especially in the summer, you should also consider the use of a sun baby lotion formulated to act as a protective screen against the UV actions. The baby lotion should have an SPF 50+ and you should apply it on all the areas exposed to the sun, including face and neck.
Sun baby lotions should be made of natural ingredients and, to increase the protection, your baby should also wear a cotton sun hat with a wide brim.
BABY LOTION SUBSTANCES TO AVOID
Before buying a baby lotion, you should check the list of ingredients on the package and make sure that is free of silicone, petrolatum, and other aggressive surfactants. You should also check the presence of substances that can alter the functions of the skin, such as paraffin, Vaseline, mineral oils, and glycol, to name just a few.
Some manufacturers might use acronyms to list the ingredients, therefore make sure to check the list of acronyms if you don’t know what an ingredient is.
These ingredients might cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, or other types of conditions. They can also alter the physiological function of the skin and lead to systemic disturbances or even cancers.
When choosing a baby lotion or any other baby product made with natural ingredients, you should also check the position of those ingredients in the list on the package. Manufacturers are required to list the ingredients based on their percentage in the composition, therefore if you’re buying a baby lotion for a certain ingredient, make sure it’s worth it.
As a bottom line, baby lotion’s use should be limited to only a few situations and it should be used to moisturize the baby’s skin when changing the diaper and to alleviate rashes. Pay attention to the hygiene of your baby, using only those products that are advised by the specialists. When in doubt, ask your pediatrician for advice rather than using a baby lotion when maybe it’s not recommended.