A toddler might play in a sandbox, make mud pies or smear pudding in his hair at lunch time. An older child might be involved in sports or spend time riding his bike after school. For these children, a daily bath or shower is probably a necessity. But babies are a different story. Daily baths are not necessary for infants and might even be harmful.
A baby's skin makes oils to protect its outer layer. If parents wash that protection away, problems like eczema might crop up. A sponge bath two or three times a week for an infant's first month -- possibly even less for newborns with darker skin -- is sufficient. You might rinse your child's mouth and diaper area in between sponge baths if needed, but you don't need baby soap at this young age. Water alone should do the trick [source: WebMD: Tips].
Less is also more in regards to baby products. Fragrances are frequently to blame for skin irritation. Chemicals and dyes can be a problem, too. Look for detergents and baby products that are mild and formulated for babies. Use a baby detergent to wash your child's clothing and bedding before you use it, and skip the dryer sheets [source: WebMD: Tips]. Read labels carefully: "Hypoallergenic" means a product may be less likely to cause a skin irritation, but it doesn't have anything to do with how mild that product is.
When it comes to baby's skin, less is usually best. By eliminating harsh soaps or detergents and keeping baths to a minimum, you can increase your baby's chances of having healthy skin. To learn more skin care strategies, check out the links on the following page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- How to Determine Your Skin Tone
- Does taking an aspirin daily affect your skin?
- How to Maintain a Skin Barrier
- Is a daily shower too much for your skin?
- 5 Things Your Skin Needs Every Day
- Should the weather affect your daily skin care?
- 10 Daily Skincare Essentials
- Is olive oil good for my skin?
- How could an "anti-aging molecule" work?
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Mom and Baby Skin Care." (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_mommy_skin.html
- Baby Center. "Baby Acne." (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-acne_72.bc
- CBS. "Keeping Baby's Skin Soft." 1/28/08. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/25/uttm/americanbaby/main3750923.shtml
- Clarke, April. "The Sun's Effect on Baby's Skin." (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/general-health/dont-burn-baby-burn-4008/#
- Family Physicians. "Diaper Rash." (Accessed 9/24/09)http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/children/parents/infants/051.html
- Haas, Elizabeth. "How to Care for Baby Skin." Parents. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.parents.com/baby/care/bath/how-to-care-for-baby-skin/
- Mayo Clinic. "Diaper Rash." 3/14/08. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diaper-rash/DS00069
- Mayo Clinic. "Sunscreen: Answers to Your Burning Questions." 3/27/09. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sunscreen/SN00044
- WebMD. "Baby Skin Care Slideshow: Simple Tips to Keep Baby's Skin Healthy." (Accessed 9/24/09)http://children.webmd.com/slideshow-baby-skin-care
- WebMD. "Baby Skin Care: Tips for Your Newborn." 8/08/08. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-skin-care-tips-your-newborn
- WebMD. "What Baby Skin Care Products Do You Need for Your Newborn?" 8/08/08. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/what-baby-skin-care-products-do-you-need-your-newborn
- WebMD. "Your Newborn's Skin and Rashes." 3/15/06. (Accessed 9/24/09)http://children.webmd.com/guide/baby-skin-rashes