Your baby is born with fresh, silky-soft skin. Some of the first things they’re exposed to, like those skin-to-skin snuggles with you, are wonderfully soothing. But other new experiences like wet diapers? Those can be awfully irritating for sensitive skin.
As a new parent, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to care for your baby’s precious skin, including what products are safe and how to deal with dreaded skin issues like diaper rash. The struggle is real. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best tips for infant skincare, especially to prevent diaper rash—priority number one being your baby’s diaper, and the most recommended products and practices for those sweet little tushies.
1. Use absorbent and breathable diapers
“Your baby’s diaper plays a huge role in their overall skin health,” says Dr. Carrie Lynde, a dermatologist based in Markham, Ont. “Urine and feces are examples of near constant irritants that touch baby’s skin right from the very beginning; that’s why it’s important to use a super absorbent diaper,” she explains.
Because babies’ skin is immature and not fully developed, it doesn’t have the full protective features of adult skin, especially when it comes to barrier protection and immune function, which makes it highly prone to diaper rash.
“Diaper rash is the most common skin problem among infants and young children. Nearly all babies will experience diaper rash before they are potty trained. All four of my babies have had diaper rashes, so you are not alone!” she says.
To prevent diaper rash from happening in the first place, Lynde recommends using super-absorbent diapers. Today’s Parent’s favourite diapers are Pampers, which absorb moisture and lock away mess and wetness from baby’s skin. Materials that keep baby’s delicate skin dry and protected are key.
2. Choose hypoallergenic wipes
“Look for wipes made with the simplest ingredients,” says Lynde. “Parents ultimately want to find a safe and gentle option for protecting baby’s delicate skin. The softness of the diapers and wipes are very important.”
Irritants such as urine and feces change the natural pH of the skin surface and damage it, Lynde explains, so choosing a wipe that will help to maintain the natural skin surface pH is important. Wipes like Pampers Sensitive Wipes are a great option for parents as they provide the protection baby needs.
3. Change baby as often as possible
“During the day, you’ll want to change baby’s diaper when you notice it’s wet or soiled,” says Lynde. (About eight to 10 changes a day should help keep them as dry as possible and help prevent diaper rash.) Those indicator strips on newborn diapers are also especially helpful with very young babies as it helps to give a visual cue for when the diaper is wet. “This was a life saver for me in the first few weeks of motherhood,” says Lynde.
What about overnight? The advice these days is not to wake a sleeping baby for a diaper change. Unless your baby has a severe diaper rash, let them sleep. That’s why absorbent diapers are so important. When choosing a diaper, look at the absorbency level, pH balance and breathability. A hypoallergenic brand such as Pampers is designed for baby’s delicate skin and provides better dryness vs. the leading value brand. In fact, it’s the only brand that pulls wetness away from baby’s skin and distributes it evenly into three Extra Absorb Channels to lock wetness away overnight.
4. Apply barrier cream
Even with an absorbent and breathable diaper, another way to protect your baby’s sensitive skin is to use a barrier cream, such as petroleum jelly or a paste using zinc oxide, to further protect the skin from further irritating contact.
“Barrier creams are very helpful for preventing diaper rash, especially when combined with an absorbent diaper that fits your baby perfectly,” says Lynde. “They help to provide a good protectant barrier to prevent urine and feces from reaching the baby’s skin. I personally use a thick layer of barrier cream with every diaper change to help prevent irritation.”
Just make sure to regularly wipe off the old cream with unscented and hypoallergenic wipes such as Pampers Sensitive Wipes—or gentle soap and water—after each change and reapply. Also be sure not to share creams with other children or contaminate the container by double-dipping with the same finger you’ve already used.
Also, beware that baby powder or talc isn’t the same as a barrier cream, and is not recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society.
5. Give your baby diaper-free time
In addition to barrier creams, letting your baby’s bottom breathe and exposing it to open air au naturel can be a good idea, especially if they have a diaper rash. Going bare can provide relief and speed the healing process along. You can leave your baby’s diaper off for a few minutes after a change and let them wiggle around or roam free. Just be prepared for potential accidents!
6. Contact your doctor if the breakout is severe
“If the rash is not improving after several days, consider seeking further advice from your primary care provider,” says Lynde. It might need a mild anti-flammatory cream, an antifungal prescription (if it develops into a yeast infection) or even topical or oral antibiotics (if your baby has a bacterial infection). You may also need to rule out other rare potential issues such as zinc deficiency or psoriasis, which can sometimes be mistaken for diaper rash.