photo by JSVDP
My daughter's skin was crazy soft for the first month or so after she was born. I used to love rubbing my cheek against her cheek in amazement. But I knew that it wouldn't be that soft forever. I had read about how babies are born covered in vernix, a white cheesy-looking substance that looks kind of icky, but is pretty important.
Vernix protects a fetus's skin from amniotic fluid so it doesn't get all wrinkly. It's composed of stuff that also sounds kind of icky, but is ultra-moisturizing: sebum (the oil of your baby's skin) and fatty acids. Since your baby has been swimming in that solution for nine months, it's not too surprising that his skin is so soft (beauty companies are even trying to figure out how to bottle the stuff and use it in adult skin-care products).
Unfortunately, the effects of vernix don't last—once your baby's been out in the real world for a while, his skin will never be as soft as it is in those first few months. But that doesn't mean you can't try your darnedest to keep it as smooth and silky as possible.
Here are some easy ways to keep your baby's skin as soft as, well, a baby's bottom.
1. Give your baby a post-bath massage. Not only are massages a great way to bond with your new baby, they're a great way to keep his skin soft too. According to the MD Moms, the best time for a massage is after a bath because your baby's skin is plumped up and hydrated and it will hold in the moisture from an oil or lotion better.
2. Protect your baby from the sun. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says you should keep babies under 6 months out of direct sunlight—use an umbrella or keep your baby under the stroller canopy. For babies under 6 months, the AAP recommends that sunscreen be used on small areas of the body (like the face and the backs of your baby's hands) if you can't keep your baby completely in the shade. For babies over 6 months, the AAP says it's safe to use sunscreen, but test it on a small patch of your baby's back before using it all over to make sure he isn't allergic. For babies of all ages, think about dressing your baby in hats, lightweight, long-sleeved clothing, and sunglasses.
3. Prevent diaper rash. While a little rash here and there is inevitable according to Dr. Sears, you can do some things to minimize diaper rash such as: change your newborn's diapers every two hours (longer for older babies), change a poopie diaper immediately, clean your baby's bottom thoroughly, use a good diaper cream if your baby needs it (petroleum ointment or white zinc oxide).
4. Use products with baby-friendly ingredients. Pediatrician Alan Greene, M.D., says to choose baby products that are free of harsh or dangerous chemicals. Try to avoid these ingredients: talc, lanolin, and fragrance. They can all potentially irritate your baby's skin. Remember to choose a baby-friendly detergent too—those adorable clothes will be rubbing up against baby's skin.
What kinds of things do you do to keep your baby's skin soft? What are your favorite products?