Dry skin in babies is a common phenomenon. You need to understand a newborn's skin if you want to deal with skin dryness. At the time of birth, the body of the infant is coated with a cream like substance called vernix caseosa. This creamy white substance is wiped off the skin by the doctor/midwife. This exposes baby's skin to the natural elements. Gradually, the top layer of the skin dries up and eventually sheds. Though the experts opine that during the first month, the babies do not need any lotion or moisturizer, new moms can apply ayurvedic or natural baby oil for baby massage, after consultation with a reputed pediatrician.
Factors That Cause Dry Skin in Babies
When the skin loses its moisture, it results in dry skin. This leads to peeling and cracking of the skin. If proper care is not given at this stage it can lead to serious skin issues for the babies in the long run. Let's have a look at the external factors that causes dry skin in babies -
- Weather conditions -If a baby is winter born, the cold and dry weather will play havoc with your munchkin's skin. The use of room heaters will rob the skin of its moisture. Similarly, in summer the dry heat, over exposure to sun will dry the baby's skin. The air conditioner also robs the skin of its natural moisture.
- Long bath time -Remember the skin of the baby is very tender. Giving her/him along wash will rob the infant of the moisture because the natural oils secreted by the sebaceous glands will be washed away.
- Using soaps -It is wise to avoid using medicated or non-baby soaps as it can lead to dry skin. Consider making body packs at home using natural ingredients such as gram flour, sandal paste, saffron, kumkumadi tailam, and cream of milk.
Symptoms of Dry Skin in Babies
There are many reasons behind dry skin in a newborn and toddlers. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most common symptoms in of dry skin in babies.
- Skin will appear overstretched and tight
- White scales and dry red patches on the hands and legs
- The skin flakes off when rubbed
- The texture of the skin is rough and scaly
- You will also notice fine to deep cracks on the soles, skin near the toes. If it's severe, it may even bleed once in a while
Tips and Techniques for Baby Massage
One of the best remedies to get rid of the dry skin on the baby is to give a nice baby massage using ayurvedic baby oil, or baby lotion. You can also use natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil. It goes without saying that a good baby massage will not only get rid of the dry skin but will also help the baby sleep better. A good baby massage will also reduce irritability in babies. Remember, as a parent you will discover that your loved one has a favorite area where they like to be massaged. Let's go through the following simple tips to find your little one's sweet spot.
- Don't be intimidated by baby massage. No new mom is an expert.
- There is no specific or ideal time for a baby massage. However, if you are using baby oil or any of the natural oils, massage half an hour before the bath and allow the oil to seep into the skin. If you're using baby lotion, then the perfect time would be after a bath. Pat dry the body and gently massage the baby.
- A most important point to keep in mind for a baby massage is to use rhythmic strokes when massaging the baby.
- Take baby oil or lotion in your palm and rub your hands together to warm up the liquid and gently start massaging. Start with forehead and move downwards.
- Begin by gently massaging the forehead, temples, and the bottom of the skull. Now stroke the eyebrows and eyelids, the bridge of the nose, around the mouth, behind the ears and cheeks. Remember that baby massage has to be gentle and soft.
- While massaging baby, use both your hands, lightly dipped in baby oil and give light pressure on her legs, thighs, and toes. Massage the heel using circular motions while caressing each toe.
- Remember to gently flex the baby's knees and legs. This action will push the thighs against the upper body.
- Gently, get the baby on her stomach. For this you need to sit down on the bed or floor and stretch your legs and put your baby on your legs with the stomach down.
- Then massage around the back of the head, neck, back, and legs should have large movements in one direction. However, do not press the spine of the infant.
- Caress the armpit and work your way down the arm. The elbows are very sensitive so be very careful.
Choosing the Right Baby Oil for Massaging the Baby
Choosing the right baby oil is as important as the baby massage. You need to find out whether the baby is sensitive to particular oil by simply applying it on her/his arms. Let’s take a quick walk through the list of oils that are used for baby massage, to treat baby's dry skin.
- Coconut oil -This oil is easily absorbed by the skin and has a cooling effect. Coconut oil is one of the best baby oil and is suitable for all skin types. It’s also used to treat dry skin, rashes, eczema, and patchy skin.
- Mustard Oil -Dilute this oil with carrier oils such as coconut oil. You need to warm this oil, add few garlic cloves, carom and fenugreek seeds. Garlic boosts the immune system while fenugreek helps relax the body. Carom seeds help soothe stomach pains when applied on the tummy and near the navel.
- Almond oil -Use the pure, cold pressed oil instead of the fragrant ones. This oil is loaded with Vitamin E and thus works wonderfully well as a baby oil.
- Olive Oil -Use this oil only if the baby's skin is not sensitive. If it has rashes or other allergies, it’s wise to avoid this oil.
It’s always wise to reach out to ayurveda when looking for baby oil. These ayurvedic baby oils are natural and free of any artificial or synthetic fragrances. If it’s available in the pharmacies in your area, go and grab this oil for your baby's massage. Else, you can always choose one from any of the e-commerce shopping sites like www.amazon.in where it’s easily available.