Caring for a baby with sensitive skin can feel like a lot to manage, especially for first-time moms. But don’t worry! There are a few things you can do to make sure your baby’s skin stays healthy.
Nompumezo Zwelibanzi from Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape says her child was born before term, which caused the infant’s skin to be highly sensitive and prone to irritation.
She consulted with medical professionals and learned that products formulated for sensitive skin and free of chemicals and fragrances are most suitable.
“By taking these steps, the child’s skin condition improved with time,” she says.
Zwelibanzi was up against some serious feeding curveballs when her baby was in the ICU. Breastfeeding was out of the question, so formula had to be the way forward. But that led to some serious digestive drama that needed extra attention. Talk about added stress!
From mother to mother
As a mother, Nokubonga Joko from Whittlesea in the Eastern Cape knows from experience that babies can be sensitive to a variety of things, including temperature, soaps, lotions, and heat.
“Too many layers of clothing can make a baby uncomfortable and prone to overheating, while poor hygiene can lead to skin problems. It’s important to find a balance that keeps your baby comfortable and healthy.”
Through her own experience, Joko says she noticed that using unhygienically blankets, pillows, and towels can cause skin reactions, so she recommends regularly changing these items to keep them fresh and clean.
The importance of clothing quality and frequent diaper changes can’t be overstated when it comes to preventing skin issues in infants, says Vuyolwethu Bota from Crossroads, Cape Town.
She says using clothes made from breathable, natural materials can help prevent moisture buildup on a baby’s skin.
Bota recommends products specifically formulated for babies’ delicate skin to avoid skin allergies and rashes.
Caring for a newborn
According to Dr Saira Carim, who operates #Keready mobile clinics at King Cetshwayo district, KwaZulu-Natal, bathing babies can be done a few times a week without any negative effects. She says that using soap isn’t necessary in the first month of a baby’s life.
Carim says that moisturising is only needed if a baby’s skin becomes dry or cracked. If that happens, you can apply baby lotion or cream right after a bath, while the skin is still damp. This will lock in moisture and keep the skin healthy.
“You can apply it twice a day. Also, again – ensure no dye, perfume or alcohol [is] in the lotion.”
Look out for allergies
Carim advises seeking medical assistance if your baby shows any of the following symptoms: swelling of the lips, wheezing, difficulty breathing, fainting, diarrhoea, and vomiting; alternative symptoms (rare with topical creams/soaps but more severe).
What to do?
- Rinse off the offending cream/soap immediately with water.
- If you have any antihistamine that you are comfortable with giving your infant and has been prescribed previously (and you know the dose) – give the baby the medication. See a doctor afterwards.
- If the reaction is limited to the skin – see your local GP or clinic.
- If the baby is having a severe reaction as mentioned above, then go to the emergency room immediately. If you are comfortable using an EpiPen and have been trained in using an EpiPen on your child for anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), then you may do so.
According to Carim, you should be cautious since the baby’s skin is still growing and is extremely thin, making it easy for any items you apply to be absorbed.
“This could lead to something called contact dermatitis which is an allergic skin reaction to a product.”
She advises the following:
- Baby wipes and creams should be free of alcohol, fragrances and colour.
- Avoid cosmetics and soap if the baby is premature. If the skin is cracked avoid lotions until after 2-4 weeks once the skin is developed. You can use a mild emollient cream that is free of alcohol, perfume and colour (NHS).
- Products to use: Baby soaps and lotions. Get paraben-, phthalate- free and nickel free (WebMD)
- Remember to change nappies after every pee and poop – they can cause diaper rash.
- Perfume and dye-free laundry detergent.
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