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Baby Skin: To Bathe or Not to Bathe

June 15, 2009

Newborn skin is delicate -- and so is the baby's immune system. Chemicals, fragrances, and dyes in clothing, detergents, and baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes. However, there are measures you can take to protect your baby from these skin problems.

With newborn skin care ‘less is more’. Pediatricians advise that bathing babies too often, plus too much exposure to chemicals and other potential allergens, can set the stage for skin allergies later in life.

Especially in the early months, use baby products (never adult products) that are dye free, lightly scented or scent free and as pure as possible. Try to use toxin free, 100% organic baby skincare. Baby’s immune system is still developing. If you have a family history of skin problems, allergies, or asthma, it's especially important to protect your baby's immune system -- and protect baby from irritating allergens.

Wash baby's clothing before it's worn. Use only baby laundry detergents that are fragrance and dye-free. Wash baby clothes, bedding, and blankets separately from the family's laundry. Give everything an extra rinse.

Resist the urge to bathe your baby frequently. Too frequent bathing removes the natural oils that protect baby's skin. That leaves baby's skin vulnerable which could trigger a reaction to allergens and cause skin rashes or eczema.

Other than drool and dirty bottoms, newborns don't get very dirty. For the first month or so, a sponge bath two or three times a week will keep your baby safely clean. In between, simply clean baby’s mouth, neck and diaper area with a little water or baby soap. If you have a very roly-poly infant, make sure to wipe inside all of those little folds and creases and dry and powder well. Remember not to shake the powder shaker vigorously as powder can irritate nasal passages in both baby and you.

Once-a-week sponge baths (or even less) are best for newborns with darker skin tones (like African-American). These infants tend to have dryer skin and have a higher risk of skin problems such as eczema.

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