It’s normal to have questions about your baby’s skin care, especially when the seasons are changing — which means new skin concerns may arise. Just as you may notice that your own skin changes in the winter, your baby’s skin care needs may change, too. The cold, dry air and the harsh winter wind can dry out even the softest of baby cheeks.
Read on for what to expect and tips for caring for baby’s skin in the winter.
Baby skin during the winter
The dry, cold air in winter holds less moisture. This is why many people notice their skin feels drier at this time of the year.
Babies can have more delicate and sensitive skin than adults. This may make them even more prone to moisture loss, which means their skin can dry out quickly.
Here are some skin concerns you may notice on your baby in cold weather.
Dry lips are a common problem for babies, especially if they drool a lot. When their lips and the skin around their lips are constantly wet from drool, the top skin layer can start to become irritated. This makes this area more likely to crack.
Use a gentle lip balm made with safe ingredients for your baby. If you’re breastfeeding a newborn with cracked lips, you can apply some breast milk. Lanolin is also safe for a newborn baby.
Rosy red cheeks
Those lovely baby cheeks can easily get irritated when exposed to cold air, especially on a windy day. Moisturizing before and after going outside can help.
If you’re outside a lot, consider getting a plastic stroller cover. This will shelter your baby on really windy days.
Dry, itchy skin
Dry winter air can cause baby’s skin to lose moisture and dry out. Dry skin, in turn, can cause itchy patches all over their body. These patches may appear red, irritated, and flaky.
If your baby already has dry skin or a skin condition like eczema, you’ll want to take extra care to protect it in cold weather. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from your child’s doctor as needed.
What products to use or avoid
There are so many 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 picking products for baby.
When looking for a moisturizer for your little one, avoid products made with perfumes or alcohol. These ingredients can be irritating or drying.
Lotions are good for everyday moisturizing if needed, but babies may not need moisturizer applied that frequently. Creams or ointments are thicker than lotions and can be helpful for very dry skin patches.
To minimize the drying effect of bath time during winter, avoid soaps and other bath products that have:
It may also help to use a soap-free cleanser. These tend to be less drying than soap-based products.
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.
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.
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There are several things that can help protect your baby’s skin or relieve dry, itchy skin during the winter, including:
- Moisturize. 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 moisturize. Within a few minutes of drying 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 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.
Massages for skin
Baby massage is a wonderful way to connect with your baby through touch. It’s also a great way to get into a moisturizing routine that you both might enjoy.
Keep your touch gentle but firm. For a ticklish baby, a light touch won’t be relaxing at all. Finger tips or the pads of your thumbs can provide enough pressure for massage.
Pick a part of their body to start with and use a preservative- and fragrance-free moisturizer. Gently rub the ointment, oil, or cream in a circular motion while talking your baby through what you’re doing.
When to call the pediatrician
You know your baby best. If daily moisturizing or other basic steps aren’t helping or if your baby’s skin is getting worse, check in with your doctor. There could be another reason for dry, cracking skin beyond normal winter dryness. There also may be other therapies that can help.
Winter can be tough on skin, especially baby’s delicate skin.
Applying moisturizers, reducing UV and wind exposure, shortening bath time, and increasing humidity in the home are some steps to take that might help.
Talk with your baby’s doctor if you have any concerns about your little one’s skin or health.
Medically reviewed by Karen Gill, M.D. — Written by Carly Werner on *