Even though Australian winters are never as harsh as European or American ones can be, the drop to a cooler temperature can still affect your baby’s skin. A baby’s skin is up to 30% thinner than an adult’s and so is more likely to be damaged from whipping winds and cold temperatures. It also loses water quicker than adult skin, which can lead to uncomfortable dry patches. So how should you look after your baby’s delicate skin?
If you are taking a trip in the car, try not to overuse car heating as this can be extremely drying for baby skin. But, at the same time, don’t be tempted to leave your baby’s bulky coat layer on as this means that the seatbelts cannot fit snugly (and safely) against their body. Keeping a warm blanket to tuck over your baby (only once they are already buckled in) is a better option.
Overbundling your baby in a stifling thick coat can also lead to overheating – even in winter! Instead, try keeping warm clothing layers in your baby bag which you can add or take off as needed. Many wools (including cashmere) can be irritating if they are directly next to bare skin – go for breathable soft cottons as the inner layers instead. These will allow sweat to be wicked away from the skin and help alleviate the eczema symptoms that many babies seem to get, especially in cold weather.
Oh and don’t forget to take sun protection for your baby with you. The winter UV levels in parts of Australia are often high enough for everyone to need sun protection, but year-round sun protection for babies under 6 months old is particularly important even when the UV level is low. Try out baby sunglasses to protect their delicate eyes as the winter sun hangs lower in the sky causing an uncomfortable glare. A sun shade for your stroller will also help ward against cold breezes as well as UV during sun protection times.
Once you’re back at home, it might be time for your baby’s evening bath. Or is it?
You can try skipping the bath time every so often. Babies simply don’t need a daily bath as even plain water can strip their skin of oils and frequent baths meant that their skin doesn’t have time to replenish its natural protective barrier.
When you do bathe them, keep it short (a few minutes only) and comfortably lukewarm. You can also use a very gentle fragrance-free wash designed specifically for babies.
After the bath, dry properly inside all the skin folds and creases. A lovely relaxing way to finish is to warm some oil or cream between your palms and give your baby a soothing massage. Try to do this within 3 minutes of the bath ending, when their skin will still be plump with moisture. A smear of barrier cream is great for the nappy area (and around the chin if they’re prone to drooling).
When choosing pyjamas, dressing your baby in breathable natural fibres (such as cotton or superfine merino wool) is preferable to synthetic nightwear, which can trap in heat and moisture next to their skin.
Again, the temptation is to crank up the heating at night, when the temperature dips, but overly-warm bedrooms can create a drying atmosphere and be a SIDS risk. So keep a room thermometer in the room and aim for a temperature that doesn’t go beyond around 20 degrees. Additionally, a humidifier can help keep the bedroom air comfortable.
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