You may think water is a natural softener. Using water to clean your baby will also moisturize his/her body. Not really. It depends on the kind of water you get in your area – soft or hard. After a few weeks of birth, the pH balance of your baby’s skin could change from neutral to acidic. This acidic layer on the skin surface is known as the mantle and does not allow skin protection. So, if you live in a soft water area, you would worry less about the baby’s skin. But if you live in a hard water area you might want to use baby skin moisturisers. Using hard water leads to a skin condition called Eczema, which is characterised by a dry and itchy skin and occurs in one out of five children.
Bathing the baby with boiled, lukewarm water helps to tackle the problems related to hard water. It is advisable not to bathe your baby for too long as it scrapes off the natural oils and moisturisers of the baby’s skin. And strictly use baby soaps only.
“The skin of a newborn baby is soft and delicate. Packaged moisturisers contain chemicals and hence, should be avoided. It is best to massage the baby gently with edible coconut oil after bath to keep the baby’s skin moisturised,” says Dr. Naveen Surana, Paediatrician and Neonatologist, KPC Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata.
After the bath, take your time and moisturise your baby’s skin. This also helps you bond with the baby. It protects the baby’s skin from extreme heat and cold. Some suggest that baby’s clothes must be washed with mild detergents to keep the baby away from harsh smells or other harmful chemicals that could be in the detergent.
While changing the nappy of the baby after urination or defecation, wipe that area with lukewarm water and pat it dry. Then apply nappy-rash cream if the baby has any rashes or talcum powder (only products meant for babies), before putting on the next diaper or underwear. However, try to keep your baby as diaper-free as possible. When you are taking your baby out in the sun make sure they are well protected with light clothes and a skin protecting cream. The sun’s rays after eleven o’ clock in the morning can be very harsh.