The complete guide to newborn baby skincare

You have a new bundle to welcome home and a new baby skincare routine to learn, experiment with, and master. If you're a new or soon-to-be parent researching baby skin care tips, we’ve collated this advice with you in mind. Bringing a new baby into your family and schedule is a big deal and can be more complicated than initially anticipated, especially in the first few months. It’s no secret that babies are born with highly sensitive skin that requires continual care and attention. Newborn babies have minimal defenses against outside elements, which means it’s important to create a newborn baby skincare routine that will keep them clean, moisturized, and comfortable. The most important way to take care of your baby’s skin is by using safe, high-quality products. We’ve put together a complete newborn baby skincare guide that comprehensively covers how to take care of your newborn’s skin by including tips, recommended skincare products, and additional resources to help you survive month one and beyond.

 

Common newborn skin conditions

Let’s start with some of the most common newborn baby skin conditions to expect. Newborns are born with their very own built-in moisturizer, called the vernix, which coats their skin and protects them during the first few hours after birth. But as the vernix absorbs and newborns adjust to life outside of the womb, their skin no longer has the same natural sources of moisture it did during fetal development. Building a new moisture barrier will take time and peeling skin is simply part of the process, according to Mona A. Gohara, MD, Dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor at Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology. Being acquainted with each of these skin conditions will help you build your own new baby skin care routine.

Dry skin & cradle cap 

As your new baby becomes adjusted to life outside of the womb, it’s common for their delicate skin to become dry and flaky. Dry, peeling skin is to be expected for at least the first two weeks postpartum. If you notice your baby still has dry skin after those two weeks, it could be caused by cold or dry weather, skin products with harsh chemicals, frequent bathing and more. It’s recommended to test newborn baby skincare products in small amounts and monitor for any reactions to determine if they're helping or actually making the condition worse. 

If it looks like your baby has a case of dandruff, don’t worry. Cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, isn’t contagious or painful but simply a common newborn baby skincare concern. One technique to try for minimizing cradle cap is to soften dry patches with a small amount of fragrance-free baby oil during bathtime; massage it in and let it absorb for a minute to soften patches, then gently brush it out and shampoo to remove excess oil.

Heat rash, diaper rash, and other rashes

One of the most common newborn skin irritations is simply known as “heat rash.” To avoid heat rashes, make sure your baby’s clothes don’t fit too tightly and that they’re dressed in layers you can peel off if they get too warm.

Diaper rash can be caused by a number of factors, including changes to a baby’s diet, infrequent diaper changes, poor newborn skincare or more serious infections. Being consistent with diaper changes in your new baby’s skincare routine and regularly applying a diaper rash cream at each diaper change makes the biggest difference in preventing diaper rashes.

And with so many adorable, squishy rolls, it’s easy and completely normal for babies to get other skin rashes. When too much moisture is locked into their skin folds and creases, bacteria can create rashes. Common areas for babies to get rashes are on their armpits, neck, wrists, and feet. A cream to powder formula is a safe, talc-free alternative to baby powder, and can help absorb excess moisture and minimize chafing.

Baby acne 

Unlike the throes of angsty teenage years, acne is not a big deal for babies. Baby acne, also known as neonatal acne, is usually painless, and disappears a month or so after birth. Starting a few weeks after birth, you may notice acne on your baby’s cheeks, forehead, and back. Neonatal acne can be effectively reduced in many cases with a consistent newborn baby skincare routine that involves gentle cleansing with warm water and a tear-free baby wash.

Eczema

Patches of red, dry, and irritated-looking skin are how eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, commonly appears. This is a common skin condition that often shows up within the first few months of infancy, and is often quite itchy and uncomfortable for babies. Using a gentle, fragrance-free eczema lotion and taking proper care of your baby’s skin will help keep them as comfortable as possible. If your baby does have eczema, it’s recommended that you avoid all fragrances or harsh detergents—also, frequently wash your hands, keep your nails trimmed, and try not to wear hand jewelry that could trigger a flare up. Read more on our blog about how one mom created a successful eczema skincare routine for her child.

 

Skin-to-skin contact

Creating consistent opportunities for direct skin contact between you and your baby has scientifically proven benefits such as helping regulate their body temperature and heart rate, stabilizing breathing, promoting brain development, decreasing the amount of crying, and even supporting successful breastfeeding. For the first six weeks after giving birth, it’s important for new mothers to have as much physical closeness with their baby as possible. Some ways to incorporate skin-to-skin contact are through breastfeeding, holding your baby, infant massage, and starting tummy time with your baby on your chest.

There are additional benefits to giving your baby regular massages beyond the developmental aspects mentioned above. Adding a massage to your daily newborn baby skincare routine can help improve their digestion and can also relax them before bedtime or after a warm bath. Using a baby oil during the massage can help keep your baby’s delicate skin nurtured and moisturized.

 

Giving your newborn a bath

Baths are a great time to bond with your new baby and also take care of their skin. It’s recommended to give your baby around two to three baths a week using lukewarm water and gentle, sulfate-free cleansers like Pipette’s Baby Shampoo + Wash that won’t dry out delicate skin. Avoid using any soaps with perfumes, deodorant, or antibacterial formulas that can be harsh on sensitive infant skin.

Here are a couple of newborn baby skincare best practices to keep in mind when giving your baby a bath:

  1. When preparing a bath, fill the tub up with only two to three inches of water. 
  2. Use a soft cloth to thoroughly and gently wash all skin folds, behind both ears and in between fingers and toes, which often end up in your baby’s mouth. Washing these areas with a soft cloth helps prevent dryness and rashes.
  3. An important newborn baby skincare practice is to moisturize immediately after every bath using an all-over daily baby lotion or baby oil, as well as baby balm or balm stick for extra-dry patches or sensitive spots. Newborns’ faces and bodies should be moisturized at least once a day, so doing this after bath time works well. When applying moisturizers, gently massage the product into your baby’s entire body until it has fully absorbed into their skin. It’s best to use products made specifically for babies and always watch for any skin reactions when introducing newborn baby skincare products.

 

Changing your newborn's diapers

There will be many diaper changes during the early newborn stage (about 10-12 per day!) and you may earn a couple of your own diaper nightmare stories along the way.  Here’s what you need to know about diapering basics to help keep your baby clean and their skin happy. 

  1. It’s important to change your baby’s diapers as soon as they become wet to avoid diaper rashes. The amount of diapers you go through may seem staggering, but staying on top of these diaper swaps will make a big difference for your baby’s sensitive, developing skin.
  2. Always gently but thoroughly use wipes when changing a dirty diaper. Wipes that are fragrance-free, water-based, and free of suspect chemicals are the least likely to cause adverse skin reactions.
  3. If you notice any chafing on your baby’s leg creases or backside, make sure the diapers that you’re using aren’t too snug. Babies may grow quickly and it can be helpful to make sure their diapers have enough space.
  4. Once your baby’s bottom is cleaned, you’ll need to dab on a cream like Pipette’s Baby Cream to Powder,  Baby Balm, or Diaper Rash Cream. We recommend using Cream to Powder on areas that have little folds, creases, and baby rolls because they help safely absorb any excess moisture to minimize chafing. Baby Balm is perfect for delicate areas in the diaper area, deeply nourishing skin and helping to support the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Diaper Rash Cream is key for both treating and preventing the red, irritated skin of diaper rash.
  5. After cleaning and moisturizing, it’s okay to wait a minute before putting on a new diaper to give the area some air to dry out (too much of any moisture in a diaper can lead to irritation or a diaper rash).

 

Diaper rash 101 for newborns

Are you wondering what diaper rash looks like? Check your baby’s skin for red, irritated skin (which can progress to open, oozing sores). If you’re noticing frequent diaper rashes, here are several time-tested baby skin care tips that might help:

  1. Frequently check your baby’s diapers to see if they are wet and then quickly change them.
  2. Generously apply diaper rash cream after every diaper change to help protect your baby’s sensitive skin. Pipette’s Diaper Rash Cream is made with calming, plant-derived bisabolol and soothing 14% non-nano zinc oxide to create an effective barrier to protect against diaper rash—and as an added bonus, it actually wipes off when you need it to.
  3. At bedtime, apply an extra-generous dose of diaper rash cream to help during the night when baby’s diaper may be on a bit longer.
  4. It’s important to use diaper rash cream even when you’re on the go, so remember to stash a travel size in your bag for when you’re changing diapers outside of the house.

 

Newborn skincare tips for traveling

Sunny days

For the first six months, pediatricians recommend that you keep your baby out of the sun as much as possible, so hats, UV-protective clothing, and stroller sun shades are key. After that, whenever you take your baby outside it’s critical that you apply a mineral sunscreen for UV protection. It’s important to use a mineral sunscreen instead of a chemical sunscreen so that the product doesn’t lead to any skin irritation; Pipette’s Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 uses non-nano, reef-friendly zinc oxide to protect from the sun’s harmful rays, as well as plant-derived moisturizing ingredients to calm babies’ delicate skin. Babies that are six months old or younger should be kept out of any direct sunlight to protect their skin. Making sure they’re dressed in loose-fitting layers will help you have more control over their body temperature. If your baby becomes too warm, they run the risk of getting uncomfortable skin rashes due to their underdeveloped sweat glands. 

Cold weather

If you’re taking your baby out and about during a colder season, make sure to fully cover all sensitive skin like their head, ears, and hands. Not only will the extra layers keep your baby warm, but they will also help prevent the cold air from drying out their skin. Keeping an extra-moisturizing balm stick handy can help with chapped cheeks or lips.

Don’t skip out on skincare

Pack your diaper bag ahead of time with travel-ready products so that you’re able to have a clean diaper change even while on the go. There are some items new parents often forget to bring that are important for maintaining a sanitary newborn baby skincare routine. The first item we recommend bringing is a portable changing pad. Having a changing pad will help you be ready for a wet diaper change on any surface. A changing pad protects both the baby and surface on which they’re being changed since newborns can urinate anywhere, anytime. Second, it’s important to keep an extra-nourishing balm on hand to help lock in moisture. When you’re on the go, a baby balm stick can be much more convenient to swipe on than a lotion (especially when you need to keep your hands as clean as possible), and fits easily into a diaper bag or back pocket. Lastly, a travel-sized hand sanitizer is crucial after diaper changes if you’re not in an area where you can wash your hands.

 

Recommended newborn baby skincare products

The amount of work required to take care of your new baby’s delicate skin is no joke, but fine-tuning a new baby skincare routine is essential to keeping your baby healthy and reducing irritation, which can reduce fussiness. When selecting skin care products, be sure to check that they’re formulated especially for newborns through hypoallergenic, dermatologist, and even clinical testing. We’ve created a list of must-have products that will be staples in your day-to-day life.

Daily lotions, balms, and oils

Applying lotion to your baby’s skin every day will help act as a protective shield from outside elements. Our lightweight, everyday lotions help replenish natural moisture and are always made with clean ingredients like bio-fermented ceramides and glycerin you can trust.

Bathtime

Giving your baby a bath they’ll love requires using extra-gentle, tear-free cleansers that hydrate your baby’s skin. Our new and improved Baby Shampoo + Wash formula uses plant-derived emollients and cleansers that naturally add moisture to your baby’s skin and hair without stripping skin of moisture—and without using any synthetic fragrances or sulfates.

Diapering

Create a simple system for swapping out diapers by making sure you have everything your baby needs on hand. From gentle wipes to nourishing vegan creams and balms, each of our products are created with clean ingredients you can trust.

 

How to choose the best newborn baby skincare products

With an entire industry of newborn baby skincare products to choose from, it can be confusing and tricky trying to figure out which products will work best for your baby. Finding great skincare products that work well for you and your baby is completely possible. While browsing newborn skincare products, here are some important considerations.

Safe & nourishing ingredients

Stick to products with clean ingredients that your baby’s body will recognize, including sugarcane-derived, extra-moisturizing squalane, plant-derived glycerin, antioxidant-rich superfruit sterols, ceramide NP, colloidal oatmeal, bisabolol, non-nano zinc oxide, and more. We define clean products as being rigorously tested by third parties, free from skin-irritating or potentially harmful ingredients, and ethically sourced.

Ingredients to avoid

Pipette has a list of 2,000 potentially harmful ingredients that we will never use in our products (for context, the US only bans 12 of these ingredients). Top ingredients to avoid for babies include sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil/petrolatum, polyethylene glycol (PEG), oxybenzone, synthetic fragrance, formaldehyde releasers, talc, and retinyl palmitate. Even if a product claims to be “natural,” it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe to use on your baby, or that it was ethically sourced and manufactured. 

Quality tested

When a product has been dermatologist-tested it means that it has been clinically tested by third parties for safety and efficacy. Other important stamps of quality assurance to look for are EWG Verified, National Eczema Association Accepted, Leaping Bunny Certified, PETA Cruelty Free and Vegan, pediatrician-approved, environmentally-friendly, sustainable, and hypoallergenic.

Taking care of a newborn baby takes a lot of work and it’s natural to want what is best for them. Following these newborn baby skincare and using clean skin care products will help you take care of your baby’s sensitive skin with confidence during the “fourth trimester.” Adding intentional skin care practices to your baby’s daily routine will help their skin stay nourished and also give you plenty of opportunities to bond with them every day. 

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