Baby Skincare

Sharon Trotter – RM BSc Mother & Baby Consultant

In the course of my career and when attending baby shows or parenting events the following questions come up again and again which is why I have decided to share these ones with you.

Can you give me some advice on the safest way to look after my baby’s skin during the early weeks of life?

Since 1996 I have been advising parents to use water only for the first month of life. The overwhelming result of this approach has been positive, with newborn skin being in excellent condition. Rashes, spots and cradle cap are rare. Once introduced carefully mild products are well tolerated.
Recent research suggests that it is safer to bath your baby in plain water for at least the first month of life.
At birth, the top layer of your baby’s skin is very thin and absorbent. This means it is more sensitive to damage from germs, chemicals and water loss. Over the first month (longer in premature infants) your baby’s skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier. Skin conditions may develop if this natural barrier is damaged.
Remember that anything placed on, in or around your baby has the potential to harm.
The following advice is taken from the Babycare – back to basics™ leaflet. To give your baby the best start in life my key recommendations include:

  • Wash your hands before and after carrying out any baby care
  • Open cordcare is now recommended: no need to use antiseptic wipes or powders – top’n’tail your baby until the cord has separated
  • Use water only for baby skincare for at least the first month of life * Once introduced, read the labels and avoid products containing sulphates (SLS and SLES), parabens, phthalates, artificial colours and perfumes
  • Breastfeeding your baby will strengthen their immune system
  • Don’t overload your washing machine – this will help prevent washing powder chemical residues on clothing Cloth nappies are as efficient as disposables and do not present a higher risk of napkin rash
  • Use a thin layer of barrier cream on the napkin area to help protect against the development of napkin rash – this cream should ideally be free from preservatives, colours, perfumes, antiseptics, and clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of nappy rash 
  • Massage oils should be vegetable based and free from mineral oils, perfume and colours – if there is a history of nut allergies in your family you should also avoid nut-based oils.

My 7-week old has got terrible cradle cap. It looks awful and I’m worried it might hurt her. I’ve used specialist shampoo, almond oil and olive oil, but nothing seems to work.
Cradle cap (sometimes called infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis) is a greasy scaly rash usually confined to the scalp. It is thought to be caused by an over activity of the sebaceous glands due to increased circulating hormones from the mother or overuse of harsh skincare products in the early weeks of life. This condition can be treated with an application of vegetable oil (which should be left overnight) followed by gentle combing of the loosened skin flakes. Strong shampoos aimed at the treatment of cradle cap should be avoided. These products may contain harsh detergents that could aggravate the condition further.
It is not necessary to wash baby’s hair with shampoo until they are a year old. Once you have introduced baby bath products, simply rinse your baby’s hair in the bath water. Make sure any shampoo you use is free from sulphates (SLS and SLES) parabens, phthalates, artificial colours and perfumes.

Have you got any advice on the best way to care for my baby’s skin during the winter months and can you suggest any skincare products?

During the winter months it is easy for your baby’s skin to become dry and dehydrated. There are a few simple ways to avoid the onset of dry skin conditions and some wonderful products that will help to protect your little one’s delicate skin. By following the simple advice in Q1 you will be able to avoid most problems but why not try the amazing Weleda Baby Calendula Weather Protection Cream made with 100% natural ingredients or the triple TIPS Award winning baby wipes from Jackson Reece. Only products that comply with our strict criteria can be submitted for a TIPS trial and we have detailed reviews for each product tested to help guide you through the maze of baby skincare products. The brand new Baby wipes 2009 results are now online.
Sharon Trotter is a registered Midwife with over 24 years professional experience and special interests in breastfeeding and baby skincare. She works independently, advising and promoting best practice in these areas. Her work on baby skincare has helped to change NHS policy within maternity units nationwide and her book ‘Breastfeeding: the essential guide’ is a top-10 best seller. Sharon’s award winning leaflet ‘Babycare – back to basics’ has also helped thousands of parents to care for their babies. She also founded TIPS Ltd, a website featuring a new testing programme and awards scheme set up to provide parents with the latest product information. The TIPS Award Scheme is the most impartial testing programme in the baby market sector today. A mother of five herself, Sharon’s combination of personal experience, as both a professional and a parent, means her advice is both evidence based and trustworthy. Please feel free to contact Sharon direct at: