Newborn Dry Skin – Becoming a parent is one of the most defining experiences in life. Ask any mom and dad out there, especially first-time parents who are still on a baby high, about bringing that sweet bundle of joy home from the hospital. It’s a moment they will treasure forever. Having a baby will change a person’s life enormously and permanently. But, life is infinitely better and sweeter with their baby now in the world.

What will follow after taking the baby home are many sleepless nights and anxious fussing mixed with lots of cuddles and a love that will last a lifetime. A parent will never stop loving and caring for their child, no matter how old they get. Nevertheless, a tiny, fragile, and helpless newborn baby will require a special kind of care and attention – Notably, a newborn baby’s delicate skin.

Newborn Dry Skin

Very common baby condition.

Self-diagnosable; dry skin, skin rash or even scaly skin is known as atopic dermatitis. In some cases, the newborn dry skin is due to skin lesions.  Cradle cap is another common culprit of infant dry skin.  In infants and babies when a hair follicle clogs a pore the natural oil and dead skin cells can cause baby acne.

Common treatment; ensure your baby stays properly moisturized is a natural and organic body lotion.  Avoid any lotions that include harsh synthetic ingredients.

Always consult a doctor for medical advice


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Newborn Dry SkinCauses Of Newborn Dry Skin

Like all humans, the skin is the newborn baby’s largest organ. When a baby is born, they are covered in a waxy substance known as vernix, which protects the skin in utero from the amniotic fluid. The sebum in the vernix also provides protection during the first few moments after delivery and suddenly exposed to harsh, cold air [1].

Do not be surprised if your baby’s skin flakes and peels not long after birth. The most commonly affected areas for chapped skin are the feet, hands, face, and scalp. In adults, it’s called dandruff, but an infant’s flaky scalp is more accurately referred to as cradle cap. To treat, moisturize your baby’s head with a gentle lotion that is safe to use on infants or coconut oil, then wash with organic baby shampoo. Afterward, gently brush with a soft bristle hairbrush made for babies.

Your infant’s dry skin should be quite harmless and should resolve on its own. If it doesn’t, it’s best to take the baby to the pediatrician or the dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Dry, flaky skin is normal in newborn babies, and as long as it’s not bleeding, red, or inflamed. If it is not hurting your baby, it should not be too much cause for concern. Picture this: your baby, if they were born full term, spent 40 weeks in the womb floating in amniotic fluid. Is it any wonder a newborn baby’s skin is dry?

Causes Of Toddler Dry SkinCauses Of Toddler Dry Skin

That isn’t to say that once your baby is past the infancy stage that they will no longer suffer from dry skin. Although toddlers are past the vernix phase, they are also susceptible to dry skin. Your toddler’s skin may no longer be as sensitive and delicate as it was when they were younger, but it still needs specialized care. That is why toddler-aged babies have their own category when it comes to bath and body essentials.

In essence, toddlers are more exposed to the world through their increased activity, so they get dirty in ways that a newborn baby won’t. Their skin needs more protection from germs, bacteria, and odor. For toddlers with extra sensitive skin, this added protection on their skin from their soap, body wash, lotion, moisturizer, and even laundry detergent could lead to dry skin. The culprit: alcohol-based ingredients. While extremely useful for sterilizing, alcohol is also incredibly drying on the skin. Yet, it’s often used in soap and shampoo formulas.


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Other Dry Skin Causes - Newborns and ToddlersOther Dry Skin Causes – Newborns and Toddlers

Cold Weather Effects on Baby Skin

Whether your baby is one day, one week, one month, or one year old, dry skin is inevitable, especially during winter and cold weather. Low temperatures tend to dry out the skin and cause flaking and peeling. To combat this, keep your newborn’s or toddlers skin hydrated by choosing moisturizing body wash and lotion. For the areas exposed to the cold wind, like the face, use heavier creams and organic baby bath and body soaps and ointments that are formulated to help the skin retain moisture in frigid winter weather [2].

Hot Weather Effects on Baby’s Skin

On the other end of the spectrum, hot and humid weather can likewise result in dry and dehydrated skin. These dry patches can flare up and develop into a heat rash. These rashes appear red, inflamed, and prickly. The chapped skin is warm to the touch and itchy. The most commonly affected areas are the neck and the inside of the elbows. This should not be confused with diaper rash, which is caused by trapped moisture and bacteria in the diaper area.

A baby’s dry, itchy skin can become severely irritated, and it might even start to sting if it is allowed to worsen. To treat as well as to prevent this, keep baby and your baby’s room comfortably cool and avoid sun exposure. You can also apply a dusting of good old cornstarch on the affected area.

Also during warm summer months, watch out for chlorine, especially heavily chlorinated pool water and salty ocean water. These are other possible causes for your toddler’s or infant’s dry skin. Rinse immediately once your toddler gets out of the pool or beach. Massage their skin with organic moisturizing lotion versus petroleum-based oil to restore their skin’s moisture.

Long or Frequent Bathtime Effects on Baby’s Skin

Long, hot showers and baths may sound like heaven for parents, but it is not advisable for newborn infants and toddlers. Keep bath time quick and efficient, and make sure the water is not too hot because this will most definitely dry out or harm your baby’s sensitive skin.

Do not use adult soap on your baby’s skin, especially on a newborn. Check the brand of soap or body wash you are using on your baby, or discontinue the use of it altogether. Use organic baby products on your newborn or toddler. When you notice some flaking, especially on the elbows, knees, and face, apply some moisturizer like organic baby creams, lotions instead of petroleum jelly.

There are many cleansers formulated for infants that will be better suited for your newborn baby. For toddlers, choose a cleanser that is free from synthetic fragrance as it can be drying and irritating.

If the appearance of dry patches does not improve, and if they progress to deep cracks that look red and painful, take your baby to the doctor so they can prescribe medicated creams or ointments.

A Word About Baby Skin Care Product Labels
A Word About Baby Skin Care Product Labels

Remember, even with labels that tout that a product is safe for your baby, you should check the ingredient label. Personal care products are not certified the same as food. When reading the label, be aware that it may list natural ingredients, but through the manufacturing process, their effectiveness may be lost.  What’s a parent to do? Look for accreditation labels on baby products. Some manufacturers choose to have their products undergo testing to demonstrate to the consumer that the product is genuinely organic and safe for their baby [3].


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Is It Baby Dry Skin Or Something Else
Is It Baby Dry Skin Or Something Else?

Whether a newborn or toddler, take care not to confuse your baby’s dry skin with other, more serious skin problem and skin condition, such as eczema, molluscum contagiosum, seborrheic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and allergic reactions. Leave the diagnostics to trained professionals, take your newborn or toddler to their regular check-ups with their pediatrician.

If you are a new parent, don’t let the many dos and don’ts send you into a tailspin of worry. If your baby’s skin is otherwise healthy and infection-free, baby skin care is actually quite simple and low maintenance. Make sure you do not expose their skin to unnecessary chemicals or ingredients. You only need to keep their skin clean by washing with a gentle formula. For the occasional and completely normal flare-ups of diaper rash or neck rash, you can treat it organically or with medication prescribed by your doctor.

Most importantly, keep your baby sufficiently hydrated. If you are exclusively breastfeeding your newborn, monitor the number of diaper changes. For toddlers who are no longers nursing, make sure that they are still getting enough fluids from water, fruit juices, and milk.

A Last Word – Newborn and Toddler Dry Skin

From the time your baby is a newborn and even a toddler, your baby’s skin is delicate and sensitive, which is why caregivers should take great pains to protect and care for it.

In addition to treating your newborn’s dry skin topically, keep in mind that skin-to-skin care often instantly calms a fussy baby. It is essential for your baby’s well being. A parent’s constant warm, reassuring embrace will do wonders for a baby’s development.

For toddlers, although they may start to assert their independence and are self-possessed enough to demand or refuse contact, they too will benefit from skin-to-skin contact.  A happy baby is a healthier baby, even when it comes to dealing with dry skin.

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Newborn Dry Skin Resources:

[1]   US National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health; Unraveling the Mystery of Vernix Caseosa, Indian J Dermatol, 2010.
[2]   Raising Children Network; Dry skin, April 26, 2018.
[3]   Campaign for Safe Cosmetic; Chemicals of Concerns.

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