Babies have this scent that we hope we can put in a bottle, and they have enviable skin — soft, smooth, and supple. It's why when moms see a tiny scratch, rash or blemish, they panic a little bit and ask what they need to do to make sure the skin bump disappears. But to avoid it from happening in the first place, it all boils down to proper baby skin care.
At the recent Smart Parenting Convention 2018 held last July 21, our partner, Nivea Baby, invited Dr. Giselle Adasa, a pediatric dermatologist and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society, to give our parents a primer on baby skin. Here's what we learned.
1. Baby skin is thinner so it is more delicate and sensitive.
The skin has three layers, explains Dr. Adasa. The uppermost, which you can feel if it’s smooth or rough, is called the epidermis. This layer also has the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis. “This is the one that flakes when you have dry skin,” says the dermatologist.
“Then next you have your dermis and then your hypodermis which give you your skin integrity,” she says. Here you can find blood vessels, nerve endings, and storage for fat among other things.
Compared to yours, your baby’s three layers of skin are much thinner. “It's actually 40 to 60 percent thinner compared to adult skin. So what does this mean? Baby skin is really more delicate, it's more sensitive,” says Dr. Adasa.
Another drawback of baby skin being thinner? It loses water five times faster than adult skin, she adds. “You have a less natural moisturizing factor. Your skin has this water-soluble substance that attracts water. In babies, it’s two times lower than that of adults. Lastly, your baby's skin has smaller corneocyte which are cells in your skin that hold water. So, your baby’s skin has a lesser holding capacity for water.”
“So what does this translate to? Your baby's skin is really more prone to irritation. That's why you have contact dermititis — rashes, redness, and roughness of the skin.”
3. Skin care for babies is not “one size fits all.”
“What works for your niece, your nephew, the child of your friend, or even your older child, doesn't necessarily mean it will work for your baby,” says Dr. Adasa.
There are a lot of different brands in the market for a parent to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Pediatrician Dr. Jamie Isip-Cumpas has this tip: “You’re looking for cleansers that are soap-free and less fragrant. You don’t want the sudsy kinds of soap as these can strip the oil from the baby’s skin.
“Some people think that if the cleanser isn’t soapy then it can’t clean. But this isn’t true. These cleansers do the job well and they keep the skin’s moisture in.” You can also check out what other Pinay moms have to say about the different baby cleanser products here.
Caring for your baby’s skin is actually quite straightforward. “There are just two parts actually: cleansing followed by moisturizing,” says Dr. Adasa.
“When it comes to cleaners, in general, their main purpose is to clean the skin. The only difference between them is how gentle they are,” she says. “Next is moisturizing. Ideally, this is right after giving your baby a bath. Why? Because you have to trap the water in the skin.”
Mayo Clinic recommends using lotion on an as-needed basis. “Most newborns don't need lotion after a bath. If his or her skin is very dry, apply a small amount of unscented baby moisturizer to the dry areas. The massage might make your baby feel good. If dryness continues, you might be bathing your baby too often.”
5. There are no hard set rules when it comes to frequency and bathing time.
“I think bathing baby once a day is still safe and with our climate, you can consider up to twice a day,” says Dr. Adasa.
And baby's bath can be during any time of the day as well. “Whether it be in the morning, afternoon or evening, it’s okay. Just remember that it should be a bonding moment for you and baby.”