Best ways to prevent dry skin in infants

Contrary to popular belief, the use of baby lotion is not a necessary step in daily skin care for babies. In fact, the use of baby lotions should be limited to doctor recommendation only. It is true that babies have extremely sensitive skin, which can dry and crack easily. However, prevention is the first step in caring for baby’s skin.

Frequent bathing can cause drying or irritation. Newborns are limited to sponge baths for the first month or so after birth. Once the umbilical cord falls off, then bathing in an infant tub can begin. It is not essential to bathe babies every day. Daily bathing can be more harmful than good for the skin.

Instead of daily bathing, cleaning baby’s skin with a soft washcloth and tap water will keep the skin clean and free of irritants. Pay special attention to the neck and face area where formula tends to accumulate.

Another culprit of dry or chapped skin is the outdoor elements. In the winter months, it is best to keep babies out of the cold environment if possible, especially infants. When babies are outdoors in the cold, keeping the skin covered from the elements should protect their delicate skin.

The same is true for hot weather conditions. It is important to prevent a baby’s skin from direct exposure to the sun. Again covering and protecting the skin is vital. It is crucial to use sun block if the skin cannot be protected by clothing. Special care should be given to the hands and feet in both cold and hot climates.

Heating the home in the wintertime can also produce dry air. The moisture is removed from the air during the heating process. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and can prevent the drying of the skin, nose, throat and lips. Cool mist humidifiers should be used to prevent accidental burning of children.

Prevention is not always a sure thing. Some babies are prone to dry skin, and may have skin conditions. When skin conditions, such as eczema are present, lotions and/or ointments are necessary. It is best to follow the doctor’s recommendations for treatment of skin conditions.

Just recently, researchers have shown a possible link to harmful chemicals and baby care products. Baby lotions, shampoos, and powders may contain the chemical Phthalate (thowl-ate). The chemical was detected in the urine of babies and children who had used these types of products.

The health effects of this chemical is uncertain. There has been no report of illness or severe defects from the use of baby lotions and products. Just the fact of an unnecessary chemical exposure to babies and children raises concern.

In most cases, lotions are not necessary to keep babies from dry or irritated skin. If lotions are going to be used, the best choice is a non-scented hypoallergenic product.