Baby Grooming Guide: Caring for Delicate Hair and Skin
In this issue, we look into the very basic of skin and hair care. While we know that there are a myriad of baby care products available in the market today, knowing how to use them and how much to use is also important.
A newborn baby has the most vulnerable skin and delicate hair imaginable. Chemicals in detergents, fragrances, clothing, and even certain baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes. Great care must be taken to protect your baby’s skin and scalp, which are still in their developing stages.
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Less is best for a baby’s skin
Resist the urge to bathe your baby frequently. It removes the natural oils that protect baby’s skin and leaves it more vulnerable, so it reacts to any potential allergen – triggering a reaction like eczema.
Except for needing their diaper changed and their drool gently wiped away, newborns don’t get all that dirty! So, you will be doing your baby’s skin a big favour if, for the first month or so, you just give your little one a sponge bath two or three times a week. In between, simply clean baby’s face and diaper area with a little water and a washcloth.
Giving your baby a bath
Babies should not be given a bath until the umbilical cord has fallen off. Here’s how to bathe a baby:
- Lay out a diaper and clothes where you can easily reach them after the bath.
- Fill the tub with two to three inches of warm water and test the temperature with your elbow.
- Put the washcloth and baby toiletries close by so you will not have to reach out too far while baby is in the tub.
- Using a wet washcloth, gently clean your baby’s face.
- Wipe from the inside of each eye to the outside. Make sure you get any dried secretions out of the nose as well.
- Use a lightly soaped-up washcloth to clean your baby’s body from top to bottom and front to back. Make sure you clean inside all of the little folds.
- Wash the diaper area last.
- Rinse your baby thoroughly with cupfuls of water.
- Next, wipe baby with a clean washcloth before carefully lifting the little one out of the tub with one hand supporting the neck and head and the other hand supporting the bottom.
- Remember, your baby is wet and squirming, so if it’s possible, have another adult help by receiving your baby in a dry towel.
- Pat baby dry.
- Apply a mild baby lotion to keep that delicate skin moisturised.
- Dress your baby.
Moisturize & massage!
More often than not, an infant’s skin is dry and can even have patches of eczema in some areas. Moisturizing your baby’s skin with a moisturizer made for baby is important.
After bath time, gently dry baby off with a soft towel. Apply a gentle baby moisturizer all over baby’s body. Why not give your little one some soothing baby massages? You can even do this with baby oil. Massaging is a great way for you to bond with your little bundle of joy!
Baby hair-care tips
Don’t wash your baby’s hair every day. Particularly with newborns, there’s just no need. Aim for a quick shampoo when you bathe your baby, which doesn’t need to be more often than a couple of times a week.
- Be gentle when you massage a tearless baby shampoo into your baby’s scalp. A too-brisk scalp massage can stress hair follicles and cause breakage.
- Comb your baby’s hair with a soft-bristle brush or a wide-toothed comb that won’t snag on tangles or pull out delicate hair.
- Avoid headbands or ponytails that pull your baby’s hair back too tightly.
- If a trim is needed, do so when baby is in a cheerful mood. Use baby’s favourite toy as a distraction!
Washing baby’s hair:
- Fill a cup with water to wet baby’s hair.
- Apply a small amount of baby shampoo and rub in a gentle circular motion. Keep your baby’s head tilted back so the shampoo doesn’t run into those tiny eyes.
- Fill the cup again with clean water to rinse your baby’s hair and body.
- When lifting your baby out of the bath, support the bottom with one hand and the head and neck with the other. Make sure you have a firm hold so your baby doesn’t slide away.
If your baby has developed some flaky, red patches of skin on the scalp, it’s probably cradle cap. It’s not a big concern and is easy to treat. Here’s how:
- Before a bath, massage a little bit of olive oil, or baby oil into your baby’s scalp to loosen the dry skin.
- Use a soft brush or washcloth to release the flakes.
- Do this before washing baby’s hair.
Cutting baby’s nails
Baby’s fingernails grow very quickly and they can be sharp enough to cause scratches on that little face and body! File or cut the nails about twice a week. You may use a baby scissors or a baby nail clipper. Here are some tips to make cutting nails easier:
- Cut nails after a bath, when they’re softer.
- Sometimes it helps to trim a baby’s nails when the baby is asleep and relaxed.
- If you use scissors or a nail clipper, press the skin under the nail down so you can get to the nail more easily. It may help to have your partner hold the baby’s hand steady the first few times so you can concentrate on cutting.
- Trim fingernails following the natural curve of the nail.
- Cut toenails straight across.
Launder with love
For the first few months, it’s recommended that you wash your infant’s clothes separately from yours. Use a laundry wash that is gentle and specially formulated to be free of harsh chemicals and dyes. There a many brands of baby laundry products out there that get the job done without the use of harsh detergents or chemicals that may cause rashes and allergic reactions.