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Infants and Skincare: How to Keep Your Baby From Getting Burned

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By: Brandi Goodman


Summer is a time for joy and adventure for all ages, but the sun's rays can sometimes turn fun into discomfort. This is especially true for our littlest loved ones—babies whose delicate skin requires extra care and protection. As parents, it's crucial to safeguard your infant from sunburn and irritation, ensuring their summer is filled with smiles and giggles. Discover the best ways to keep your baby safe under the sun and find a skincare and health routine that nurtures their sensitive skin.

Is sunburn a concern for babies?

Sunburn is a concern for everyone—including babies and toddlers. Newborn babies are especially at risk because they can’t wear sunscreen. (Sunscreen isn’t recommended until at least six months of age). If you have any hope of preventing sunburn, it’s necessary to keep little ones in the shade and out of direct sunlight whenever possible.

The sun’s UV rays, though vital for a sunny day, can become harmful with prolonged exposure, potentially leading to premature skin aging and even skin cancer. As soon as your child is ready, make sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. This ensures protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays, keeping their skin safe and healthy.

Unique skin care needs of infants and toddlers

Children have different skin care needs than adults. You should only be bathing your baby a few times per week. While cleansing their skin is important, overdoing it can lead to skin dryness and irritation. Use lukewarm water, fragrance-free baby soap, and a soft cloth. Then, simply pat them with a towel and let them air dry rather than rubbing at the water droplets with a towel like you might do for yourself. Most babies’ skin dries out easily. A gentle, fragrance-free moisturizing lotion applied after a bath can help combat this.

Common skin conditions that affect babies

Babies can experience a variety of common skin conditions, including contact dermatitis and atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. These conditions often manifest as skin rashes, causing discomfort for your little one.

Eczema results from long-lasting inflammation, making the skin itchy, red, swollen, and cracked. On the other hand, contact dermatitis occurs when your baby’s skin comes into contact with an irritant, such as certain chemicals or products. Common culprits include specific laundry soaps or bath soaps. This condition can cause the skin to become red, bumpy, itchy, and even blistered.

Understanding these conditions can help you take the right steps to protect and soothe your baby's delicate skin.

Another common issue is cradle cap. The true term for this is infantile seborrheic dermatitis. White or yellow scales develop on the scalp, often resulting in a crusted appearance. It generally looks worse than it feels and doesn’t cause itchiness or irritation. It often clears up on its own, though you may need to use a mild shampoo and gently scrub through the hair daily to loosen some of the scales. If it continues, speak with your child’s pediatrician about a medicated shampoo.

Natural remedies for common skincare issues in young children

To heal your child’s eczema or skin rash naturally, start by eliminating the triggers. For example, if your child’s skin breaks out every time you’ve put them in an outfit washed with a certain laundry detergent, stop using that detergent. If your child has a reaction after eating certain foods, avoid that food. You can also apply natural topical treatments, such as coconut oil, breast milk, or aloe vera gel, rather than a chemical solution.

Best skincare products for babies and young children

When searching for a sunscreen or other skincare products for young children, find one that indicates it is organic, natural, or mineral. These have a low concern for cancer-causing effects or allergies. Plenty of brands have products that meet the mark, including Hawaiian Sol, Baby Bum, Think, TruBaby, TruKid, Banana Boat, Olita, and Raw Elements.

Consider products that display the EWG Verified® mark—this is a seal of approval from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. This mark signifies that a product has been thoroughly evaluated and meets EWG's strict standards for safety and transparency.

Parents should care about the EWG Verified mark because it provides assurance that the product is free from harmful chemicals of concern and aligns with EWG's mission to promote healthier choices for families. With so many products on the market, the EWG Verified mark helps parents make informed decisions about the products they bring into their homes, ensuring they are safer and healthier for their families.

Harmful skincare ingredients

Some skincare ingredients are harmful to children. A primary ingredient to avoid is phthalates. These chemicals are used in plastic containers and other products and have been linked to cancer and reduced fertility. You’ll also want to skip using products listing sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or propylene glycol. These can all have adverse effects on health.

Establishing a skincare routine from a young age

Starting your kids with a skincare routine is as simple as buying the right products and helping your children apply them. If you regularly help your child clean their skin with a soft cloth and apply a moisturizing lotion afterward, then they’ll be more likely to continue these habits as they get older. Make sure they wear sunscreen every time they go outdoors, and have them reapply every couple of hours. When they reach puberty, they may need to switch to an oil control cleanser, but they should otherwise be able to continue using gentle, chemical-free products on their face and skin.

Best practices for diaper care

Diaper rash is a terrible experience for a baby, yet it can happen frequently if you aren’t careful. Preventing diaper rash is possible if you follow a few tips.

Use cloth diapers - Disposable diapers may work fine for some infants, but can lead to allergic reactions in others. The best solution is to use cloth diapers. Not only does this save you money in the long-run, but they absorb much better than disposable options and help to reduce skin irritation.

Keep the area clean - Keeping the diaper area clean is necessary if you want to prevent irritation and possible rashes. Bacteria can spread easily in this area, and a few baby wipes are not enough to clean it. Plain water and a soft cloth is a much better solution.

Apply a zinc oxide diaper cream - Zinc oxide is safe for babies, and its use is encouraged because of its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It’s found in many skin care products for infants. Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is a terrific choice that works well for many children.

The role nutrition plays in supporting healthy skin development

Nutrition is vital for healthy skin development. Poor eating habits can lead to inflammation, fine lines, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles. Eating vitamin-rich foods keeps the skin supple, well-hydrated, and looking normal. Make sure your children drink plenty of water daily and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Just remember, infants cannot begin trying solid foods until between four and six months old and cannot have water until six months; they should not consume a lot of water until they hit one year.

Adds skincare and chiropractic to your child’s routine

Skincare is a crucial aspect of caring for an infant. Beginning a routine at a young age can help prevent long-lasting damage to the skin. Paired with healthy eating habits and regular trips to the chiropractor, you can ensure your child has the best start possible at a healthy life. The Joint Chiropractic encourages all parents to begin their children on a healthy path from early on.

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