A newborn’s skin is naturally sensitive and can develop a rash even when using mild shampoos and detergents. For parents of a newborn with super sensitive skin, finding ways to prevent rashes can be an enormous challenge. I should know. My youngest child had about the most sensitive skin I’d ever seen in a newborn, which required changes in our lifestyle.
What to Do When a Newborn Baby Has Sensitive Skin
1. Be mindful of how you do baby’s laundry. For babies with super sensitive skin, use extra effort in laundering baby’s clothes and bed linens to avoid skin rash. Detergents that are free of dyes, perfumes, fabric softeners, brighteners and other additives can help reduce irritation to baby’s tender skin. A double rinse will also remove any lingering traces of detergent.
What about stained clothing? Skip the bleach and use natural products to remove stains instead. I’m a big fan of borax, but a half cup of baking soda in the wash also works well to brighten those stained baby clothes without harming baby’s sensitive skin.
2. Use soaps and shampoos formulated for sensitive skin. Babies with super sensitive skin do not tolerate many soaps, even those specially designed for baby skin. We used liquid Castile soap for our newborn daughter as both a shampoo and an overall body soap. Castile soap is a vegetable-oil-based soap which works up to a great lather and is gentle enough to use every day.
3. Dress your newborn baby in natural fibers. Natural fiber clothes and bedding allow a baby’s skin to “breathe,” which can prevent chapping, heat rashes and other skin problems. Be sure to wash new baby clothes and linens twice in hot water before putting to use, since new garments are often treated with sizing and other chemicals so they’ll display nicely in the store.
4. Use cloth diapers as much as possible. Cloth diapers protected with vinyl pants are the best diapering solution for all babies, especially those babies with super sensitive skin. But, if cloth isn’t an option, sensitive skin disposable diapers such as Pampers Baby Dry can be a great alternative. Whatever diapering solution you use, be sure to change the diaper frequently, since sensitively skinned babies are much more prone to diaper rash and fungal infections.
5. Keep baby out of harsh sunlight. A baby’s sensitive skin makes him or her extra susceptible to sunburns. Babies with super sensitive skin have to be protected at all times. While most pediatricians recommend keeping a baby indoors during the summer months, sometimes this isn’t practical for a family with other children.
* Babies with super sensitive skin can burn as early as 9:30 am and as late as 4:30 pm, especially in the northern latitudes. Since it isn’t recommended to use sunscreen on a baby younger than six months, it’s best to limit baby’s outdoor time to the early mornings or late evenings. Our family used to plan visits to amusement parks, zoos and public swimming pools for the evenings when the sun wasn’t as brutal.
* Keeping your baby in the shade is also important. Shades for the car windows are essential for keeping baby out of the direct light. Strollers with adjustable awnings or canopies can also protect baby if out for a walk. And, if you must go to a park during the day, select densely shaded areas where you and the baby can watch your other kids at play.
* Finally, total skin cover during the summer is also a must. Babies with super sensitive skin can get sunburned even in the shade, due to the reflection of the sun as it bounces off concrete, the beach or a public pool. Loose cotton clothing that cover the arms and legs are essential, along with a floppy cotton hat that protects the face and the back of the neck. Don’t forget the UV block sunglasses along with tightly woven cotton booties to prevent sunburn to the feet.
Coping with a baby with super sensitive skin is not that much of a challenge as long as you remember these basic guidelines and keep in touch with your baby’s pediatrician. While most sensitive skin issues can be managed with some lifestyle adjustments, when your baby’s skin has changed in color or texture, or just doesn’t look right, it’s best to check in with your baby’s pediatrician rather than attempting a self diagnosis.