KEEPING YOUR BABY’S SKIN PROTECTED DURING WINTER
Winters come with dry, cold air which contains less moisture and makes our skin feel drier than usual. As seasons change, it’s normal that questions arise about your baby’s skin care. Babies have more delicate and sensitive skin than adults. Therefore, just as we notice that our own skin care changes in the winter, your baby’s skin care needs will change too.
Here are some skin related changes you may notice on your baby during winter.
- DRY, ITCHY SKIN: Dry winter air can cause your baby’s skin to lose moisture and dry out. Dry skin can lead to itchy patches all over your baby’s body. These patches may appear red, irritated and flaky. If your baby already has dry skin or a skin condition like eczema, you’ll need to take extra care to protect it in cold weather. Don’t hesitate to consult a doctor for further advice.
- CHAPPED LIPS: Dry lips are a common problem for babies, especially if they drool a lot. When their lips and the skin surrounding them are constantly wet from drool, the top skin layer can start to become irritated. This makes this area more likely to crack. In this situation, make sure you use a gentle lip balm with safe ingredients for your baby’s lips. If you’re breastfeeding a new-born with cracked lips, you can apply some breast milk. Lanolin is also safe for a new-born baby.
- ROSY RED CHEEKS: Those lovely baby cheeks can easily get irritated when exposed to cold air, especially on a cold and windy day. Moisturising before and after going outside can help. If you’re outside a lot with your baby, consider getting a plastic stroller cover. This will shelter your baby on really windy days.
What products to use or avoid
There are hundreds if not thousands of different baby skin care products available, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed when trying to choose the right one. Here are some tips for when you’re picking products for your baby:
- MOISTURISERS: When looking for a moisturiser for your little one, avoid products made with perfumes or alcohol. These ingredients can be irritating or drying.
Lotions are good for everyday moisturising if needed, but babies may not need moisturiser applied that frequently. Creams or ointments are thicker than lotions and can be helpful for very dry patches of skin.
- BATH PRODUCTS: To minimize the drying effect of bath time during winter, avoid soaps and other bath products that contain fragrances/detergents/deodorants.
It may also help to use a soap-free cleanser. These tend to be less drying than soap-based products.
- SUNSCREEN: Many people think sunscreen is only necessary in the summer. Although the winter sun isn’t as strong, snow on the ground can reflect UV rays and cause sunburns on delicate skin.
Babies under 6 months old shouldn’t have sunscreen applied to their skin. For this age group, limit time spent in the sun when UV levels are highest or use a UV cover on their stroller or car seat.
For babies older than 6 months, a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is best, but time spent in the sun should still be limited.
The takeaway regarding the protection of your baby’s skin during winter include:
- MOISTURISE - use a small amount of creams or ointments if your baby is prone to dry skin. You can apply it to exposed areas before and after going outside.
- SWITCH UP BATH TIME - although a bath can be a nice part of the bedtime routine, babies don’t need to be bathed every day. Short baths in lukewarm water are best to reduce moisture loss. Exposure to water, especially hot water, can cause their skin to lose moisture.
- LOCK IN MOISTURE AFTER BATHS - after bath time is another good time to moisturise. Drying within a few minutes of finishing the bath is best, when their skin is still damp. Be sure to pat their skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing.
- USE A HUMIDIFIER - if you find that the air in your home is quite dry, consider using a humidifier. More moisture in the air may help reduce dry skin.
- CHOOSE SOFT FABRICS - dress your little one in soft, breathable fabrics that won’t irritate their skin. Avoid clothing with rough seams or scratchy tags.
- USE ONLY SCENT-FREE PRODUCTS - it’s best to avoid anything that can irritate a baby's skin or make dry skin feel worse. Choose fragrance-free lotions, soaps, and laundry detergents.
- DRESS SMART FOR THE OUTDOORS - if your baby gets too warm and starts to sweat, it can irritate their skin. Layers can be helpful if you’re feeling unsure of the weather conditions.
Information medically reviewed by Dr. Karen Gill, M.D. – Healthline 2020