My husband and I are very happy to announce we are expecting our third child!
It’s been a tough year for everyone, us included, but this happy news has helped us keep going. My husband has kept very busy by handcrafting our new baby’s crib. I’ve been making lists and staying on top of sales to get the most out of our short time to prepare. With two older children, and having moved a few times, we didn’t hang on to many baby items. Restocking our shelves with common baby must-haves has made me acutely aware of the many things new babies need – including baby skincare products!
Therefore, I’ve laid out some common baby skin conditions that one might encounter in the first five years of a child’s life. Not everything is covered, or in complete detail, but many will give you an idea of what can be expected, and what measures or types of care may help. This is based on my experience and a bit of help from healthcare websites. Any advice on skin conditions or care should be sought from a healthcare professional.
Not many of you readers will be surprised to know that newborn skin rarely looks like the picture-perfect cherub seen in movies. What’s important to note is that most newborn baby skin is perfectly normal and does not need any help from us. Skin conditions mentioned below here are to be expected and do not need products, just time and proper hygiene.
Upon arrival into the world, the baby’s skin is thick with a cream-cheesy white substance called vernix caseosa. This is a mixture of old skin cells and skin gland secretions and it has an important role of protecting the baby from its old home (your womb and amniotic fluid). Very helpful if you don’t want to turn into a pickle!
Once wiped clean, babies will often be quite colourful. Their skin red, blue and blotchy, looking like they’d just come out of their first fist-fight! This is because of the pressure changes baby goes through during childbirth. Particularly quick or stressful labours can even cause bruising. But young baby will recover well in your arms, with blood circulating in the skin as normal.
Newborn skin may also be a tad hairy. This fine, peach fuzz that sometimes coats baby from head-to-toe or even in patches is called lanugo, and it’s perfectly normal. It’s also a protective covering in the womb but it is often shed before birth. Interestingly, mommies’ bodies produce hormones to prevent babies losing lanugo in the womb, which also prevents mom from losing hair! Lustrous hair is often a benefit of being pregnant for this reason! If still present at birth, lanugo will disappear within a few weeks, as will the baby’s first layer of skin, which may look like your newborn is peeling from a bad sunburn. All part of the miracle!
When my kiddos were born, I’d had already watched dozens of labour videos online to prepare myself (for the anticipated pain). My husband didn’t share in this particularly adventurous baby-birth-video-binge. I recall after Grizzly Bear was born, he mentioned the vernix caseosa and a few other things as being … unexpected. I was expecting it, from my videos, so I let him in on the secret. What I was not expecting, though, were the odd skin-nail mixtures at the ends of our baby’s fingers! His skin had attached to the tips of his nails. Giving him his first nail-cut was near impossible. That was the only unforeseen skin related difference that I really noticed with Grizzly Bear. Our second baby, however, Polar Bear, was a different story. Born chubby and pink, he did look pretty picture-perfect. Two weeks later, and his skin started peeling off in great heaps! Unfortunately, this coincided with our Welcome Baby Party. He looked somewhat like a reptile just beginning the molting process as he was passed around to each happy guest. What a funny guy! A week or so later, and back to our pink cherub!
The conclusion is that all newborns have unique skin, and with time, become the perfectly soft skin we all imagine when envisioning our children. Expect the unexpected and chat with your healthcare provider if anything worries you! If you get a chance and are also expecting, or want to check up on what your grown child had after birth, check out more info on newborn skin here.
Once a child is two months old, they are generally considered to be a baby. But there are no hard and fast age rules that dictate when a skin condition can strike! Skin conditions are common among certain age groups but can appear at any time. Two of the most common skin conditions that affect babies are cradle cap and diaper rash. Here is some general information, preventative measures, and measures to help ease symptoms or treat them.
Cradle cap can develop between 2 weeks and 12 months of age. It is usually found on the top of the head but can appear on the face, behind the ears, or in any skin folds, like the groin or armpits. It looks like white, yellow, or red scaly patches. It can also look crusty or flaky. It can look itchy or painful but it’s neither. It normally does not bother a baby at all. Its cause isn’t altogether known but it’s generally thought to be caused by too much skin oil. Cradle cap is identified by healthcare professionals by its look and location. Seek medical advice quickly if any areas look red, drain fluid, or are warm to the touch as this could indicate an infection.
Cradle cap will clear up on its own in a matter of weeks or months, but you can help your baby by gently washing their hair once a day with tear-free baby shampoo. My Grizzly Bear had a very mild form of cradle cap for the first year of his life. He was completely bald and only started growing blonde hair (it looked invisible!) around the age of 1.5 years. Until then, his flaky cradle cap persisted, which looked like dandruff. He didn’t mind it at all, which is the joy of being a baby! If you want to help remove the scales though, you can use mineral oil (great for dry skin!) and a baby toothbrush to gently brush them away. Just let the mineral oil soak into the scales first to avoid hurting your baby. If the cradle cap is located somewhere other than your baby’s head, consult your doctor. They will generally provide you with a special cream. Be certain to ask about and follow any hygiene treatments to avoid potential infections. Check out more details here.
Diaper rash is, unfortunately, a common and painful skin condition that can affect any child wearing a diaper. Diapers are designed to keep pee and poop from dirtying a baby’s clothes or ending up on the floor. The problem with this is that, if not changed regularly enough, the pee and poop (or even moisture!) can damage your baby’s sensitive skin. Diaper rash looks like sore, red skin and is located in the groin area. Similar looking rashes can appear on other parts of the body but would be caused by some other irritant (like sweat).
To prevent diaper rash, which both of my kids experienced from time to time, be sure to check and change your baby often. Gently clean the diaper area with soap and water, and pat it dry before putting on another diaper. If you see a rash developing, apply a cream or ointment that contains zinc oxide. Why this ingredient? Zinc oxide is impermeable, meaning it adds a waterproof covering, like a second skin, to your baby. This gives your baby’s sore skin a chance to heal before coming in contact with pee or poop again. Another way to allow the skin to heal is to give it some air time. Air will help your baby’s skin to dry properly and heal (bacteria don’t do so well in oxygen). Yes, this means you will have a naked, unpotty-trained baby on the loose, but it will help the skin heal faster (and keep you on your toes too!).
If your baby’s diaper rash doesn’t go away in a few days, or appears to get worse, make an appointment with your doctor. And as with any other condition that shows signs of infection (draining liquid, odour, is warm to touch, or is causing great pain or fever) seek quick medical help. To find out more, click here.
Toddlers and kids are mobile (much more mobile!) and can get into some pretty crazy stuff! From bumps and bruises to heat rash and chickenpox, there doesn’t seem to be an end to types of skin afflictions. Luckily, many are preventable, treatable, or manageable. I’m going to cover two that I have experience with; eczema and warts.
Eczema can look different on everyone but is generally characterized by red, itchy patches made of scaly skin or raised bumps. Its cause isn’t entirely known but is thought to be by gene variations that prevent the skin from retaining moisture, and can be linked with other allergic conditions, such as asthma. It can be located in many places but common locations are cheeks, elbows, knees, and torso. Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema, but preventative measures include avoiding things that trigger outbreaks, such as certain foods, heat, or perfumes, like in baby products or laundry soaps. Watch your child’s symptoms carefully and take note when outbreaks strike. This may help you track down triggers and prevent your child’s discomfort in the future. One good news story is that eczema tends to improve by age 5 or 6 and can sometimes go away. A sibling of mine had eczema as a child, which did go away as she grew (mostly). She only triggers it when she travels back from hot or humid places – those pesky vacations!
To help your child with an outbreak, only give your child short baths and use mild, unscented soaps. Pat the skin dry before applying any creams or moisturizers. Dress your child in soft, breathable clothing. If your child begins scratching and damaging his or her skin, keep their nails short or put baby mitts on them to prevent scratching at night. As with any infected-looking area, seek speedy medical attention. Read more here.
Warts are also an unfortunately common skin condition. They are caused by a virus that lives in soil or even household floors. A common place to contract them is a bathroom floor, such as public swimming pool change rooms, because the moisture allows them to survive and be transmitted easily. They can affect any part of the body but are common on hands or feet as this is where kids tend to touch things. Most warts don’t hurt but can if irritated. Preventative measures include washing hands and feet when you’re out and about and exposed. Also wash the bottoms of your feet after walking bare foot in a public place or outside. If your child bites their nails, or has an open cut, keep these areas clean and covered to prevent easy access for the virus. If a wart is contracted, be sure not to allow your child to scratch or pick at it as it could then be spread to other areas or become infected.
Warts can be treated at home, but for any little ones, it’s best to have a professional take care of it. I never had a wart as a child, so when one of my little one got one, we went to the doctor. It was a plantar wart on the bottom of his foot, so walking was uncomfortable for him. Some freezing jelly was applied and the wart was scraped away piece by piece in a couple visits. My son did not have any discomfort afterwards!
If any pain, redness, bleeding, or oozing occurs around the wart area, make sure to seek quick medical help as these are signs of infection. Read more about warts here.
Now that I’m a Mom of two, and (as you can see) have lived through a few of the more common skin conditions, I’ve made my short list of baby skincare product must haves. I chose these products because they are natural, versatile, or will be a common staple for the first year of my new child’s life. I’ve also used them before and can vouch for their effectiveness! They are:
- Virgin Coconut Oil: those that are not new to my posts will know that I use this for an all-around moisturizer, hair softener, and baby massager. It also works on stretch marks and for nursing. It’s a must-have here!
- Peas in a Pod Shampoo: when pregnant with my first child, I received this brand’s sampler set as a gift. One product I kept going back for was the shampoo! I’ve tried many different kinds of baby shampoos since (since this one if kind of hard to come by), but this one was always the softest on my kids’ skin, especially as newborns.
- Burt’s Bees Diaper Rash Ointment: most diaper rash creams are created equal because of their key ingredient, zinc oxide. I do try to keep natural products in the house, and Burt’s Bees is famous for using natural ingredients!
- Seventh Generation Wipes: baby wipes are one of those things that seem to be personalized to both parent and baby, and that’s because we are the ones using them for stinky jobs. I like thick wipes that don’t tear and don’t have harsh chemicals to harm my baby. These are perfect, I’ve used them for years and never had a complaint. Plus the fact that they are less harmful on the environment is a much needed bonus!
- Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent: another eco-friendly winner is this hypoallergenic, formulated for sensitive skin, and biobased product free of perfumes, dyes, and artificial brighteners. Again, I’m a long time user and it works great!
Love your Family’s Skin
Hopefully this blog has provided you with some useful information and tips on caring for your family’s skin. If you have different skin concerns that I didn’t go over, maybe you will find them on this terrific site, which covers more topics from a wider age range! With more knowledge, we can all be better prepared for whatever skin challenges face us next! Kids get into all kinds of stuff, remember! If you like any of the information, products, or have some thoughts of your own, lay some skin on me! I’d love to read all about it!