Right from the birth of your baby you will be assailed by many doubts concerning his proper care and looking after. These doubts always arise because of not knowing whether something is normal or not knowing what is best for the newborn baby.
Until the first few weeks have elapsed, everything will be a new experience for you. Every day you will notice some detail you had not seen before. This progressive familiarisation with your baby will lead you to ask many questions: is it normal for him to have these patches? How should I bathe him? Which is the best lotion to use? Should I …
Baby’s skin and caring for it properly are things that are constantly on a mother’s mind because the skin is the most visible part of the body and also the most exposed as it protects the body from external aggressions.
As soon as you hold baby in your arms you will start finding a lot of small “defects”, which are no such thing and which are quite normal in all newborn babies.
At birth the baby is covered by a gelatinous protective substance which is yellow-white in colour. This will probably already have been cleaned off when you see your baby for the first time. In any case, it is quite normal for you to find remains of this substance in the folds of skin under the arms and in the groin, and in the case of a baby girl, inside her genital organs. This substance disappears within a few days but if you wish you may clean it off using a piece of cotton wool soaked in baby lotion or oil.
A great many newborn babies have small, red patchy areas on their skin. These usually appear on the eyelids, forehead and nape of the neck. When baby cries the red becomes more intense. These red patches are due to a slight dilation of the blood vessels. They require no treatment and disappear of their own accord in a few months.
Sometimes, there may be a more or less extensive blueish band on the lower part of the back, called the “mongolic patch”, which has nothing to do with mongolism or Down’s syndrome. This band also disappears after a few months.
On newborn babies one frequently sees a sort of rash in the form of small red patches, similar to an allergic reaction. These patches often change place and disappear in a few days. This rash is called “Toxic erythema of the newborn child” and requires no treatment.
On some children, especially when they are exposed to the cold, the skin acquires the aspect of a bluish network all over the body or at the extremities, resembling marble which is why it is called “Cutis marmorata”. This disorder is of no importance and disappears progressively.
Either at birth or a few days afterwards, baby may suffer from a more or less extensive flaking of the skin at the extremities or on the trunk. Although this is completely normal, the drier areas may be treated with baby oil.
Almost all of baby’s skin care routines should be carried out after bathing and especially after nappy changes.
Baby can have his first bath when the umbilical cord has finally come away and the wound is completely dry. In the meantime you may wash baby’s body with a soft sponge and warm water, without rubbing too much. The temperature of the water should be between 98’6 and 100’4° F. Use a quality neutral or acid product, making sure it does not get into baby’s eyes.
After bathing, dry baby well with a soft towel and without rubbing, in order to avoid scuffing his skin. A little talcum powder will also help, but it must not contain hexachlorophene. Do not sprinle the talc over baby’s body as he may inhale it. Tip it into your hand first and then rub it over his skin.
There is nothing nicer than a clean, sweet-smelling baby. Just as with adults, a drop of cologne will add the final touch – the scent that will form part of his little person.. However, use only a drop, enough for combing his hair and of do not rub it on his body.
The nappy area is usually the most problematic part of baby’s body, owing to its continuous contact with the faeces and the ammonia in the urine. Rashes and irritations easily occur, sometimes so bad that they actually bleed. Moreover,the constant dampness in this area provides the perfect medium for fungal infections. Change baby’s nappy as often as necessary to keep him nice and dry and if he is dirty wash him with a soft sponge and water, drying him thoroughly. Following this, gently rub in some cream or lotion to protect baby’s skin from the dampness, avoid rashes or correct any he may already have. If, for any reason, baby does get nappy rash, then it is best to keep this area uncovered for as long as possible.