Get the whole family vaccinated. “I always urge new parents to protect their babies by having every child and adult in the family immunized against influenza, whooping cough, and other vaccine-preventable illnesses, because it’s those who are closest to Baby who can get him sick,” says Dr. Swanson. This is especially important if your baby is too young for some immunizations. For instance, he won’t be protected against whooping cough—a serious illness for this age-group that’s more common in fall and winter—until he receives all three doses of the DTaP vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 months.

Check diapers frequently. Change diapers immediately when wet or soiled. Wash the diaper area with mild fragrance-free cleanser or plain water. If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle to cleanse without rubbing.

Use a soft clean cloth, not baby wipes. The perfume or alcohol in some wipes can further irritate and dry baby’s skin. Pat baby dry. Don’t rub. Let the diaper area air-dry fully before putting on a fresh diaper.

Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) or a protective ointment like Desitin or A&D. If using baby powder, take care to keep it away from baby’s face. The talc or cornstarch in the powder can cause breathing problems.

Slather on the right moisturizer. To best shield delicate skin from winter woes, apply a moisturizer. However, “some babies don’t need moisturizer at all,” says Dr. Cohen, “so simply monitor his skin for dryness.” When you do need a moisturizer, make sure it’s fragrance free. Dr. Pí¼ttgen also recommends choosing ointments that contain petrolatum or mineral oil. “They have the greatest lipid content so are best at hydrating and preventing damage to the skin barrier,” she says. “Apply one within three minutes of taking your baby out of the tub; putting ointment on damp skin maintains the hydration provided by the bath because it locks in water.” If skin is extra dry, moisturize three times a day, in addition to post-bath.

Most often, diaper rash is caused by the irritating wetness of a soiled diaper. The rash can also develop when baby’s skin is not properly dried after a bath. Sometimes, a bacteria or yeast infection will cause diaper rash. Babies taking antibiotics are especially susceptible to a yeast infection diaper rash because the drugs allow fungal growth.

Crank up the humidity. “Using a humidifier can increase the water content in the air and combats some of the drying effects of heating,” says Dr. Pí¼ttgen. Adding moisture to the air also helps reduce the dryness in Baby’s mucous membranes. Change the water frequently to avoid mold and keep the unit out of reach. 

Marvin Wang, MD, director of Newborn Nurseries, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Try once-a-week bathing. Limit your use of baby scented skin products. If her skin is dry, use only ointment or lotion on dry skin areas. Make sure baby wears only soft clothing, preferably cotton.

With newborn skin care, the adage is “less is more.” Here are tips to help protect your baby from developing allergies and rashes:

Christine Hurley, MD, pediatrician, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Ditch the coat in the car. “Puffy coats, snowsuits, and buntings should never be worn in a car safety seat,” explains Rallie McAllister, M.D., of Lexington, Kentucky, coauthor of The Mommy M.D. Guide to Your Baby’s First Year. “They’re unsafe because you need to loosen the harness to order to accommodate them, but in a crash they can compress, leaving a big gap between the harness and child, upping her chance of injury. Dress your infant for the temperature that the car will be, not the temperature outside.” Warm your vehicle, strap Baby in while she’s wearing her regular clothes, and then tuck her coat or a blanket around her and over the buckled harness straps.

Don’t worry if his feet look pigeon-toed. They’ve rotated inward because he was curled up snugly in the womb for nine months. After about 6 months, they’ll relax into a straighter position. He may also appear to have flat feet, but his arch is there — it’s just hidden by a pad of fat.

Wash baby’s clothing before it’s worn. Use only baby laundry detergents that are fragrance- and dye-free. Wash baby clothes, bedding, and blankets separately from the family’s laundry.

If there’s any fussing, baby may not be ready for a massage. Or the massage may be too forceful, so use a gentler touch. It’s the time spent together that’s most important.

Check with your pediatrician about using over-the-counter lotions or creams to treat eczema. You may need a prescription treatment.

There’s no special technique to massaging a baby. Find a carpeted floor in a warm room. Simply lay baby on a soft blanket or fabric. Get a little baby oil or a gentle lotion. Warm it in your hand. Then gently massage baby’s chest and tummy — using a gentle yet firm touch. Try to make eye contact and talk to your baby. Sing softly.

Dress him in layers. “No one wants her child to be cold, so there’s a tendency to overdress babies in the winter,” says Dr. Landau. “The rule is to outfit your munchkin as you do yourself, plus one more layer.” Choose breathable fabrics such as cotton and muslin so you can take clothes on and off as needed.

Sticky material will collect at the base of your baby’s cord stump. At every diaper change, use a cotton swab to clean it. Fold the top of your baby’s diaper so that it falls below the cord—or use newborn diapers—to keep the area exposed to air. Call your doctor if you see pus or redness.

The upside to baby’s skin sensitivity? Your touch on your newborn’s skin has a soothing, nurturing effect — and is critical to your baby’s development.

“There’s a reason we call winter the sick season,” says pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., of Seattle, author of Mama Doc Medicine. “Children get an average of 6 to 10 colds every year.” Your sweetie’s immune system is still maturing, and she’s exposed to lots of viruses by other kids. She’ll get plenty of immunity-building vitamins and minerals from breast milk and formula, but you can do more.

Most newborn skin problems, such as eczema or diaper rash, don’t develop for the first month or two. Eczema appears as a red, itchy rash mostly on face and scalp, at the elbows, and behind the knees.

When you first lay eyes on your baby, chances are you’ll think he’s absolutely perfect, but you can’t help noticing that his body has a few blemishes. So what’s normal? Here, a head-to-toe guide to your newborn’s birthday suit.

“Infants lose heat faster than adults, and the younger their age, the less able they are to cope with cold. Small babies lack the ability to increase heat by shivering and don’t have the body fat needed to warm back up once they get cold,” says Kate Pí¼ttgen, M.D., director of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, in Baltimore.

Grace Huang MY FIRST child arrived in January. It was freezing. There were snow and ice and atrocious windchills. The idea of venturing into the slippery, germ-infested cold with a newborn was not appealing. In fact, it terrified me. But I had nothing to be afraid of, according to New York pediatrician Erika Landau, M.D., coauthor of The Essential Guide to Baby’s First Year. “Babies and new parents need fresh air,” she says. “Unless it’s dangerously cold, being outdoors helps infants acclimate to the seasons and the day-and-night cycle, and it often calms fussiness.” Even though fresh air is good, there are precautions you should take. Learn the season’s best strategies and put your winter worries to rest.

Get Baby a flu shot. “If she’s 6 months or older, the flu vaccine is one of the smartest things you can do for her,” says Dr. Swanson. “Influenza can be very dangerous in babies, leading to severe lung infections and even death.” Since this is your child’s first flu vaccine, she’ll need two shots four weeks apart. Baby’s too young for the vaccine? If you followed doctor’s orders and got a flu shot while you were pregnant, you passed on your flu-fighting antibodies in utero, protecting her up to six months after birth. If you’re nursing, antibodies may also be passed on in breast milk.

Giving your newborn a massage is important one-on-one time. Like cuddling, a massage is a way to convey your love and affection for your baby. In fact, research shows that a baby’s very survival depends on being touched by others — as touch triggers hormones, boosts immunity, and helps fight disease. Also, massaged babies are calmer, sleep better, and cry less — every parent’s dream!

Keep the temperature right. “Indoor heating has low humidity, and it’s that lack of moisture in the air that can dry your baby’s delicate skin,” says Dr. Pí¼ttgen. “To avoid that, keep your indoor temperature as cool as you can tolerate during the day—anywhere between 68°F and 72°F.” When your little one is sleeping, however, you should set the thermostat lower, to between 65°F and 68°F, which will not only benefit her skin, but can reduce her risk of SIDS, research shows. Dress your baby in a sleeper and sleep sack—a wearable blanket—to keep her warm enough.

Newborn skin is delicate — and so is the baby’s immune system. Chemicals, fragrances, and dyes in clothing, detergents, and baby products can cause newborn skin irritation, dryness, chafing, and rashes. However, there’s much you can do to protect your baby from these skin problems.

Top Picks A Day in the Life of Your Newborn Is My New Baby Eating Enough? What Happens When Your Son Is Circumcised? The Best Diet for New Moms Your Preemie’s First Year: What to Expect When to Call Your Newborn’s Doctor further reading Slideshow: Newborn Skin Care Slideshow: Images of Childhood Skin Problems Dermatitis Symptoms Vitamins and Minerals for Your Skin The Mind-Skin-Health Connection Atopic Dermatitis: Taking Care of Your Skin Baby Skin Basics Atopic Dermatitis Topics

Underlying blood vessels show through the new delicate skin, giving it a pinkish or reddish tone. Your newborn is wrinkly because she’s just spent nine months in fluid and now she’s exposed to dry air, plus she’s a little dehydrated right after birth. Her circulatory system isn’t quite up to speed yet, so when she sleeps, her hands and feet may look bluish. If you’re worried, pick her up and watch her skin return to a normal color. Also expect a few breakouts on your baby’s skin during the first few months. Mom’s hormones — still circulating in baby’s system — are the culprit. In the early weeks, you may see tiny whiteheads on your baby’s face. Toward the end of the first month, red pimples may erupt. Just wash with a mild cleanser and water, and pat dry. The pimples should go away on their own within a few months; whiteheads should disappear sooner.

Bathe better. “I recommend giving Baby a bath only about every three days to avoid overdrying and irritation,” says Dr. Cohen. Keep the water to about 100°F (stick your elbow in to gauge; it should feel comfortably warm, not hot) and limit time in the tub to 10 minutes, less for a newborn. “If the water is too warm, or she stays in too long, it speeds up the process of dehydrating the skin barrier and it saps skin’s protective oils,” says Dr. Pí¼ttgen.

Your newborn is home now, and you’re settling into a daily routine. Keeping your baby warm and nourished is tops on your list. Baby skin care is just as important.

We tackle your worries about the cold season so you can keep your sweetie snuggly and healthy. 

Bundle up for a jaunt outside. If the temperature or windchill dips below freezing, or if nonfreezing temperatures are mixed with wind or rain, keep your little one inside except for brief excursions, like to and from the car. If it’s not arctic outdoors, dress him in a winter jacket, a hat that covers his ears, mittens, and a stroller blanket or bunting. “Check your baby often for signs of discomfort. If his face gets red, his skin is warm, and he’s fussy, he’s probably overheated. If he’s fussy and teary-eyed, and his skin is cold to the touch, he’s probably not bundled up enough,” says Dr. McAllister.

The American Academy of Pediatrics: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Bantam Books, June 1998.

WebMD Health News: “Babies May Be Soothed by Massage” and “Diaper Dyes May Cause Diaper Rash.”

Learn About RSV. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is very much like the common cold, complete with sniffly symptoms, and is no big deal in healthy older children and adults. However, RSV can result in bronchiolitis or pneumonia in infants, especially preemies and those with compromised immune systems. If your little one was born before 29 weeks or if he has a chronic illness, like congenital heart or lung disease, he should be given a special immunoglobulin called Synagis to stave off RSV. If your baby’s cough gets worse after about two days, he starts wheezing, or his breathing becomes more difficult, or if he’s under 3 months and has a fever of 100.4°F or higher, get him to a pediatrician immediately.

See your pediatrician if the rash doesn’t clear up in two to three days. If the rash is caused by eczema, a bacterial or yeast infection, or other condition, you may need a prescription treatment.

Most forms of diaper rash don’t require medical care. To treat diaper rash — and prevent further newborn skin problems:

Once-a-week sponge baths (or even less) are best for newborns with darker skin tones (like African-American). These infants tend to have dryer skin and have a higher risk of skin problems such as eczema.

Don’t use Scented baby products in the early months. This can irritate your baby’s delicate skin.

American Academy of Pediatrics online: Parenting Corner Q&A: “What can I do if my baby gets diaper rash?”

Except for drool and diaper changes, newborns don’t get very dirty. Babies aren’t working 9 to 5 and hitting the gym afterward! For the first month or so, a sponge bath two or three times a week will keep your baby safely clean. In between, simply clean baby’s mouth and diaper area with a little water or cleanser.

Some babies are born bald; others arrive with a full head of hair. Most newborn hair will fall out, and the hair that replaces it may be totally different in texture and color. If your baby doesn’t have much hair, you may see a pulse beating under the soft spot at the back of his head.

A newborn baby is born with wrinkly skin and a protective covering called vernix that naturally peels off during the first week. There’s no need to rush it, rub it, or treat it with lotions or creams. (If baby is born past the due date, this process is likely finished while she is still inside the womb.)

Most Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes that may go through several color changes in the first few months. They usually darken to their final color between 6 and 12 months. Darker-skinned babies are usually born with brown eyes, which tend to stay brown or turn another dark color, such as a deep green.

Resist the urge to bathe your baby frequently. Too-frequent bathing — more than three times per week during the first year of life — removes the natural oils that protect baby’s skin. That may leave baby’s skin vulnerable and dry. It may also aggravate eczema.

Baby Skin Care: Tips for Your Newborn In this Article In this Article In this Article Natural Baby Skin Care Newborn Dry Skin: Eczema Baby Skin Care: Diaper Rash Newborn Skin Soaks Up Calming Touch

WebMD Medical Reference from “The Mother of All Baby Books:” “Your Newborn’s Skin and Rashes;” “Understanding Diaper Rash – The Basics;” and “Newborn Rashes and Skin Conditions.”

Keep Baby’s Skin Moisturized With Products from Shop Parents! 

Judy Moreau, MD, pediatrician, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans.

If you gave birth vaginally, your baby’s head may be elongated or misshapen as a result of his journey through the birth canal. Forceps sometimes leave depressions or bruises. If he has a lump at the crown of his head from pushing against the cervix, it should disappear within days. The two soft spots on your baby’s head, called fontanels, are areas where the bones of the skull have not yet fused together, which made it possible for baby’s head to squeeze through the birth canal. Your baby’s eyes may be swollen and puffy, his nose squashed, and he may even have bruises on his face.

“Cold temperatures, the lack of humidity, and recirculated air can all contribute to dry, itchy, scaly skin,” says Dr. Swanson.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on October 16, 2017

Keep all hands clean. Babies put their hands in their nose and mouth, so it’s important to keep those little digits clean—and yours, too, notes Dr. Landau. For Baby, lather a washcloth with soap (antibacterial varieties aren’t necessary) and warm water. Then scrub—the friction lifts dirt and germs from skin—about 20 seconds each time you feed her, change a diaper, or return from being out and about. Do the same yourself (you can skip the washcloth) after each of these tasks as well as your own bathroom visits. Dry thoroughly after, since germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands. If you’re on the go, use a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent on your own hands. “The alcohol evaporates fairly fast, so you don’t have to worry about exposing your infant to your sanitized hands,” says Bernard Cohen, M.D., professor of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “But the alcohol can cause irritation if used directly on a baby.”

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