With the onset of winter, a baby’s skincare may need change. The dry, cold air holds less moisture and tends to dry out the skin. Babies have more delicate and sensitive skin than adults, making them more prone to moisture loss. In fact, the skin of a newborn is 30 per cent thinner, less hydrated and has reduced natural moisturising factor, compared with adult skin. Dryness, allergies and irritation of the skin during the winter season is common and parents need to take extra care by following a specific skincare routine with appropriate products.
Following are some helpful tips for keeping the infants’ skin smooth, soft and happy during the winter months.
Be it massaging, bathing or any other baby care regime, parents need to ensure that the products used are enriched with moisturising elements. Some of the ingredients that provide deep nourishment and are gentle on baby skin include vitamin E, vitamin B5, milk protein, and rice extracts.
2. Switch up bath time
Bathing is an important part of a baby’s skincare routine. Avoid giving long, warm baths as that can dry the baby’s skin. Short baths in lukewarm water are best to reduce moisture loss as exposure to water, especially hot water, can cause skin to lose moisture and dry up.
Sponge bathing is also an option. One can use a clinically proven mild cleanser that is pH balanced, hypoallergenic and specifically designed for a baby’s delicate and sensitive skin.
3. Lock in moisture after bath
Moisturising your baby is an essential part of a post-bath or sponge routine. It is best to apply moisturising lotion when the skin is slightly damp. A gentle baby lotion infused with ingredients like rice extracts and enriched with the goodness of milk proteins helps in nourishing baby skin. Lotions with such ingredients are creamier and have a high content of vitamin E B5 that lock in the moisture all day long.
It is best to use a lotion for the baby’s body and a cream for the baby’s face. Baby’s cheeks can easily dry in cold weather. Apply the cream in a circular motion. Since the baby’s face is usually exposed to wind, moisturising before and after going outside can help.
Also, consider using a humidifier if the air in the house is dry.
4. Guard against diaper rash
Winter becomes especially tricky because the baby is swaddled in extra layers of clothing and it gets difficult to change diapers frequently. To avoid rashes and inflammation, clean the diaper area with alcohol-free and soap-free wipes that also contain moisturising properties. Wet diapers should be changed at regular intervals as they can lead to infections and rashes.
5. Dry skin condition
If the baby already has dry skin or skin conditions like eczema, one might have to take extra care to protect it in cold weather as these conditions usually flare up in winters. As per IAP guidelines, such conditions weaken the skin barrier and use of emollients like moisturising creams is important for restoring barrier integrity, preventing infections and avoiding further damage to the skin.
(The writer is professor and head, department of neonatology, Bharati Vidyapeeth University Medical College, Pune, and member of Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP))
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