The proper way to care for newborn skin

When it comes to newborns and babies, there are so many dos and don’ts that it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Many products claim to be designed for delicate baby skin, but I’m here to tell you that less is definitely more when it comes to the wee ones and their skin.

Keep these special considerations in mind to ensure your baby’s bottom (and everything else) stays soft to the touch.

Babies don’t have a well-developed skin barrier, which leads to three issues:

1. Ingredients can penetrate their skin easily, so topical medication overdose is possible. Definitely avoid chemical sunscreens and parabens.

2. Just like skincare ingredients, it’s easy for allergens to penetrate babies’ skin. Though their immune systems are not developed enough to demonstrate an allergy, some doctors believe that exposure to some substances in infancy can lead to increased allergies later in life. This is why essential oils are a no-no for babies and steer clear of fragranced products. Save the baby lotion for yourself!

3. An underdeveloped skin barrier also means that babies’ skin has a hard time retaining water, making it more prone to dehydration. Paraben-free barrier-repair moisturizers like Atopalm are the way to go.

• Cleansing: Many baby products, such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo, are designed to be gentle on the eyes, but I recommend avoiding any sort of foaming cleanser because it can lead to skin dryness. Even more, babies don’t need to be washed with soap at every bath unless they’re dirty from a soiled diaper or other mishap. When you do cleanse, don’t use anything stronger than Cetaphil or CeraVe. And it goes without saying that baby skin never needs to be exfoliated.

• Sunscreen: Though I advise against sun exposure until the age of 2 and prefer little ones wear sun-protective clothing and hats, it’s important to have sunscreen on hand. Shy away from those with chemical UV-blocking ingredients and look for physical sun protection products that list zinc oxide as the active ingredient. I’ve compiled this list below of baby-safe favorites to make shopping a bit easier.

• Blue Lizard Baby Sunscreen SPF 30

• California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunscreen SPF 30+

• California Baby Everyday/Year-Round Sunblock Stick

• Burt’s Bees Chemical Free Sunscreen (with or without Hemp Seed Oil)

Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.