-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Bathing a baby and caring
for the newborn's skin can intimidate new parents, an expert
Newborns are small, vulnerable and slippery when wet, and
finding products marketed for their delicate skin can be a
challenge, too, said Dr. Dawn Davis, a pediatric dermatologist at
the Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minn.
Writing in the January issue of the
International Journal of Dermatology, Davis offered some
advice for making bath time an enjoyable experience and for keeping
a newborn's skin clean and healthy.
Newborns are ready for their first bath about six hours after
birth. A daily bath for a newborn is not recommended; a bath every
other day is sufficient to keep their skin clean. When it is not a
bath day, it's safe to gently wipe the newborn's face and skin with
a damp washcloth. It's also recommended to wipe the exterior of
each eyelid from the inside to the outside corner, Davis said in a
Mayo news release.
When giving a bath, it's best to immerse a newborn's entire body
into a tub of water, excluding the head and neck. This helps them
retain their heat during the bath. Be sure to support the baby
while immersed and only a few inches of warm water is necessary for
the bath, Davis advised. To prevent scalding, set the water heater
thermostat to below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Newborn skin is susceptible to irritation and infection, so
washing newborns with plain water is a good idea. If you do use
products, select mild, neutral-pH cleansers without dyes or
fragrances. Use products sparingly and rinse them off
Change diapers every two to four hours or after a baby has
soiled them. It's best to use only tap water and soft cloths to
clean this area, Davis said. If baby wipes are the only option, use
hypoallergenic wipes without lanolin or alcohol. Periodically
air-drying the area is advisable.
If a newborn develops diaper rash, use zinc oxide, a paste with
neutral pH that provides a barrier between the baby's skin and the
acidic products of urine and stool. If the zinc oxide doesn't clear
up the rash, the newborn should be seen by a health care provider,
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about
baby bathing and skin care.
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