Newborn Dry Skin: What to Know and What to Do

Newborn Dry Skin: What to Know and What to Do

Newborn dry skin is very common. While baby is too young for a facial, we’ll take you through what’s normal and how best to look after that delicate skin. Self care, babes.
It can be distressing when you notice newborn dry skin for the first time.

Is it normal? What does it mean?

We’ll take you through the possible reasons for baby’s skin peeling and newborn dry skin in general.

From causes to possible treatments, we got you!

In this article: 📝

  • Is it normal for newborns to have dry skin?
  • What causes newborn dry skin?
  • How can I moisturize my newborn’s skin?
  • What can I put on my newborn’s dry skin?

Is it normal for newborns to have dry skin?

Rest assured, dry skin on newborns is very normal.

Almost all newborns will go through a period where they shed the outer layer of skin that was present at birth.

This newborn skin peeling is 100% normal.

Most commonly seen on the hands, feet, ankles, and wrists, baby’s dry skin is usually nothing to worry about and often heals in a couple of weeks.

But you may still notice some dry or dehydrated-looking skin on your baby well after this initial peel is done.

We all get a little dry skin now and then, and for babies, it’s no different.

Especially in the cold, dry winter months.

Chances are it’s nothing a little TLC can’t take care of!

What causes newborn dry skin?

Newborn dry skin can be caused by weather, dehydration, irritants, and allergens.

The treatment might involve adding moisture or taking away irritating ingredients that are causing the dry skin in the first place.

How can I moisturize my newborn’s skin?

The key to keeping baby’s skin soft, healthy, and moisturized is to remember how sensitive it is.

In fact, it’s so very delicate that it can be aggravated by things we may never even have thought of.

Locking in moisture is about more than just lotions and potions, though.

Keep that vernix, baby!

Try not to rub off any vernix baby is born with.

Vernix is the creamy white substance babies are born with on their skin.

It helps protect their skin from the amniotic fluid.

It can even help protect their skin outside the womb.

You can gently rub any excess into the skin after birth, as if it were a lotion, rather than trying to clean it off.

So if it’s good to leave the vernix on, what does that mean about baby’s first bath?

It’s common for nurses at the hospital to help new parents bathe baby for the first time, but experts seem to differ on how long after birth that should be.

The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends holding off on the first bath till the umbilical stump has healed.

Until then, sponge baths are the way to go.

This will also help to protect that fragile new skin.

Keep baths short.

As fantastic as they may feel, the fact is, soaking in a hot bath for long periods dries out anyone’s skin.

Especially tender newborn skin.

Try not to keep them in for longer than 5 minutes.

Keep baths infrequent.

Newborns don’t have much occasion for playing in the mud, so they don’t really get dirty.

Two or three baths a week is usually sufficient in the first few months of their lives.

Bathtime rituals can form an important part of the bedtime routine, so you may not want to cut them out completely.

Instead, every day you can do a quick “Top and Tail,” meaning clean just their face and diaper area (in that order…) with a lukewarm washcloth, making sure to get in any skin folds where milk collects.

Keep hydrated, baby!

Make sure baby gets plenty of fluids from formula or breast milk, especially when it’s hot.

But remember, no matter how hot it is, water is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age.

Keep baby covered.

Windy conditions will dry out baby’s delicate skin, so make sure to cover them up well when out and about.

Think about that time you got wind-chapped lips!

It may surprise you to know that there are baby-safe lip balms out there, which would be a helpful addition if you’re going to be exposed to dry, windy conditions.

Keep the air moist.

Cold dry air indoors also dries out sensitive skin.

A humidifier is a great way to keep the air moist.

Keep products simple.

Some dryness could be the result of a little reaction to something in the environment that is too strong for baby’s skin.

It’s important to make sure any products you use are made especially for babies.

Ideally, they should be fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

This includes the laundry detergents you use to wash baby’s clothes and bedding.

It’s also a good idea to have a look at your own perfume or make-up products you use.

Some of those products may also irritate baby’s brand new skin as you touch and cuddle them throughout the day.

For example, if you notice dry skin on baby’s face, maybe make sure your lip balm isn’t irritating baby’s cheeks through all those kisses.

Keep an eye out for allergens.

If your baby’s dry skin turns red or seems itchy, it’s worth checking out some obvious allergens, like soaps, moisturizers, laundry detergents, or even baby formula.

Newborn dry skin can be caused by something like eczema, which many babies grow out of and for which there are many baby-safe treatments.

Less likely is a condition like Ichthyosis, which is a group of chronic conditions causing skin to be dry, itchy, and scaly.

It’s usually inherited or develops later in life.

If baby has a fever, or seems drowsy or sluggish together with an unusual skin condition, see your doctor right away.

Keep the skin moisturized.

Using a cream moisturizer while the skin is still damp after a bath is a great way to help seal in the natural oils of the skin.

Creams contain more oils than lotions, so help lock in that moisture more effectively.

And there’s another benefit too.

Moisturizing baby’s skin allows you to do a little baby massage, which can be good for gas and is just generally a great bonding activity.

What can I put on my newborn’s dry skin?

Less is more. Look for baby skin products that are fragrance- and dye-free.

You may also want to choose phthalate- and paraben-free products.

Similarly, when using natural products, remember that some of the plant or natural extracts could be allergens for your child too.

If the dryness is not resolving or becomes worse or inflamed, it’s time to check in with your doctor or a dermatologist.

What’s important to know is that a little dryness is no biggie.

It’s probably just part of your baby acclimating to life outside the womb.

Adjusting bath time and adding in some extra moisture should clear it right up.

And if you’re looking for some insider tips on what products experienced mamas use, you could also join our Peanut community.

We’re on this journey with you.

👶 More on newborn care from The 411:
10 Life-Changing Mom Hacks From Peanut Mamas
How Many Burp Cloths Do I Need?
Is Baby Powder Safe?
Newborn Temperature Guide
What to Know About Baby Bed Bugs
What to Know About Hives on Your Baby
What is a Stork Bite Birthmark on a Baby?
Baby Acne: Treatments & Causes
What to Do About Baby Heat Rash
What Causes Ringworm in Babies?
Newborn Skin Peeling: What to Know
Should You Be Worried About Baby Rash?
Smallpox vs. Chickenpox: What’s the Difference?
Baby Red Cheeks: What to Know
What to Know About an Infected Umbilical Cord
Should You Worry About a Newborn Rash?

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