Vernix -- the guardian of your baby's skin
At birth many babies are covered in a white, waxy substance called vernix, which protects her skin from dehydration while in the womb. Although vernix is often quickly washed off or wiped away, experts have suggested that allowing it to be absorbed naturally into the skin may be more beneficial. Studies have shown that not only does vernix act as a moisturiser, it also has anti-oxidant properties and can provide protection from bacterial infections such a E. coli.
Caring for dry skin
If your baby was overdue, it is likely that her skin may appear dry and flaky as much of the vernix will have already been absorbed. While it may look as though it requires treatment with a moisturising cream or lotion, the best thing to do is wait for the dry layer to peel away on its own. Within a few days your baby's skin will look perfect again.
Caring for the nappy area
If your newborn is suffering from nappy rash, apply a thin layer of clinical proven barrier cream. Wherever possible choose a cream that is free from perfumes, preservatives, colours and antiseptics.
Bathing your baby
Current NICE guidelines for postnatal care recommend that "cleansing agents should not be added to baby's bath water nor should lotions or medicated wipes be used. The only cleansing agent suggested, where it be need, is a mild non-perfumed soap."
For the first two to four weeks your baby should be washed with plain water only. After this time, a mild pH neutral cleanser can be used, although it is preferable to alternate plain water baths with those that contain a cleanser. It is also recommended that you limit bathing to two or three times per week.
Next: Bath time safety >>