Using water alone may not be enough to keep your baby clean. There are several reasons for this:
• Baby poo is unique in containing up to 4 per cent fats, which means that a mild cleanser is needed to remove the fatty deposits properly.
• Babies excrete sebum at the same rate as adults in the first few weeks of life, so their skin has a protective layer of sweat and oils from the sebaceous glands. This may go some way to explain why a study of 140 newborns found that hair washing with water alone can be particularly difficult. (After the first few weeks sebum excretion stops almost completely until puberty, leaving your baby's skin less protected and more vulnerable.)
• Also, depending on where you live, water alone may not be as gentle as you think. Domestic tap water in hard water areas has been linked to greater incidence of atopic eczema than in soft water areas. If you live in an area with very hard water, it may be kinder to your baby's skin to use baby wipes with a moisturising cleansing lotion using purified water.
In general, to help keep your newborn clean and to protect your baby's skin as he grows, follow these tips:
• Choose a mild soap or pH neutral cleanser, preferably with a proven safety profile for use with babies.• Alternate baths using cleansers with water-only baths.• Give your baby a bath when you think he needs one, but try to avoid daily bathing, particularly when your baby is newborn.• At the first sign of dryness, use a moisturiser every 12 hours or as needed; preferably a product without perfumes, dyes or preservatives.
Reviewed by Dr Winston Yong Sin Chuen, a former associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and now a consultant paediatrician in private practice in the Klang Valley
lots of love,