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Understanding Baby Skin: Unique Needs and How to Care for It Naturally

July 02 2024 – Henrieta Haniskova

Royal Heir Botanicals Understanding Baby Skin: Unique Needs and How to Care for It Naturally

Royal Heir Botanicals Understanding Baby Skin: Unique Needs and How to Care for It Naturally

One thing that really surprised me when I had my sweet baby was the appearance of her skin. The popular opinion is that baby skin is perfect, we all want to have skin like a baby, smooth as a baby's bottom. The idea is that baby skin is absolutely flawless. But the reality of baby skin is a whole other story. Let's add that to the long list of things nobody tells you when you are expecting a baby!

Skin issues can complicate your life at any stage, but the fundamental differences in the structure of baby skin and how you care for it can lead to a lifetime of challenges or freedom from issues. I researched and learned to support my baby and I am here to share what I learned. 

I am a former nurse, clinical aromatherapist and natural skincare formulator and of course a mom that created a skincare line that uses organic ingredients, skincare so clean you could eat it to support your and your baby's health to the max. 

Let's learn a little about baby skin. 

 

Functions of human skin

The functions of the skin remain essentially the same at all phases of life, including: barrier, photoprotection, thermoregulation, immune surveillance, hormonal synthesis, insensible fluid loss prevention, and sensory perception.

However, there are several important structural differences between the skin of babies and adults, stemming from one simple fact, a newborn baby skin is transitioning from the environment in the womb and into skin that thrives in the dry air.

 

Higher water content

Barrier function of the skin is essential for the survival of humans. The transepi-dermal (through skin) water loss (TEWL) is accentuated in premature babies and it's permeability or increased absorption can lead to increased mortality due to microbial infection. A study from India found that applying emollients such as Sunflower oil three times daily reduced the mortality of prematurely born babies by 32% and reduced sepsis by 41% (1.)

Although the TEWL in full-term infants is generally close to that of healthy adults, there is recent evidence that the barrier development continues during the first year of life. Infant skin is found to have higher water content and is able to absorb more water and lose excess water faster than adult skin. 

Royal Heir Botanicals Blog post on the unique structure and needs of baby's skin. Structure of the skin diagram

 

Delicate structure

Infant stratum corneum was found to be 30% and infant epidermis 20% thinner than in adults. Infant corneocytes were found to be 20% and granular cells 10% smaller than adult corneocytes indicating a more rapid cell turnover in infants.

There are additional factors to consider. Babies have immature drug metabolism systems and less fat under their skin, which means their bodies absorb drugs or toxins more easily but can't distribute them as well. Their body's system for processing and detoxifying these substances isn't fully developed yet. For prematurely born babies, the situation is even more delicate. Skin damage from band-aids (the adhesive contains forever chemicals) and monitors sticking to the body can further expose their skin to toxins. Their skin is fragile and easily disrupted.

 

Thermoregulation

Babies develop in a fairly warm environment. Inside your body, which has body temperature, at it's core close to 37-38 degrees Celsius. Only some babies are born into a climate that has a similar temperature. Most of us were born into a much colder environment. Which means that our bodies as babies had to expand quite a bit of energy on staying warm. This could be easily supported by supporting the skin with a massage with plant based oils or butters. Natural emollients are ideal, because they nourish the skin with important skin building blocks. 

Another study confirms that topically applied oils not only protect the skin, but depending on the type of oil they also deliver nourishment and some of this nourishing fat may be nutritionally available to the baby's body. (2.)

The scientists showed a comparison between mineral oil and coconut oil applied to baby's skin. When coconut oil was used for a baby massage, preterm babies grew faster and more due to the thermoregulation support from coconut oil, while mineral oil had no significant effect. And full term babies also benefited from coconut oil massage more than no massage. (3.) 

 

Royal Heir Botanicals blog post on baby skin and it's unique needs. Organic baby skincare.

Eczema

Atopic dermatitis or eczema appears in about 25% of babies and contributes to the risk of TEWL and chances of infection due to enhanced absorption of the skin.

Because of these factors it is very important that only essential, nourishing and safe agents are applied to the skin, especially in the first few months of life.This is why we focus on using ingredients that are organic and food-grade quality only in all of our formulas.

 

Fatty content under the skin

Below the skin layer, there is another substantial difference between baby and adult skin. Baby skin appears plump and delicate in good part due to the high levels of saturated fatty acids deposits, this type of fat dissipates with time and for adults pretty much disappears entirely. And that's how we lose those adorable dimples and baby rolls.

Saturated fat is responsible for those perfect baby rolls and dimples we all love so much. But don't get excited, there are flaws to this beauty. The melting point of saturated fatty acids is higher than other fats, which means that they also freeze faster.

This explains "Popsicle face" or the appearance of red cheeks in babies after eating popsicles or when exposed to freezing temperatures. This is the reason to bundle up and not stay out in freezing weather for long. By the time you feel the cold, your baby's face is already freezing and this is quite painful.

 

Sensitivity

What is rarely spoken of is the fact that our nervous system at birth lacks myelin coating. This is a fatty layer wrapped around our nerves and nerve endings reducing the hypersensitivity inside our bodies and to our environment.  This layer slowly builds over time. And since the information our nerve endings receive through our skin heads straight to our brain, using this hypersensitivity to our and our babies advantage is a necessity.

This is the reason why skin to skin contact is so crucial for babies. Calm, warm and gentle touch sends a message to the brain that everything is well. Being wrapped in mom's or dad's arms supports baby's thermoregulation as well and this is how babies can rest better and learn better. 

 

Hug Your Baby for Health and Happiness

Understanding the unique characteristics of baby skin helps us make better choices to protect and nurture it. From their higher water content and delicate structure to their sensitive nervous system, babies need special care to thrive.

Using organic, food-grade skincare products ensures that only the safest and most nourishing ingredients touch your baby's skin. Remember, hugging and holding your baby isn't just an act of love—it's essential for their health and well-being. Your gentle touch supports their thermoregulation, reduces stress, and helps them grow stronger and healthier.

As a mom, former nurse, clinical aromatherapist, and natural skincare formulator, I've dedicated my work to creating products that care for your baby's skin as naturally and effectively as possible. Hug your baby, use gentle, organic skincare, and enjoy these precious moments of bonding and care.

 

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I'm Henrieta, natural skincare formulator and aromatherapist. Thank you for reading and trusting me with your baby's skincare needs.

 

Sources:

1.LeFevre A, Shillcutt SD, Saha SK, Ahmed AS, Ahmed S, Chowdhury MA, Law PA, Black R, Santosham M, Darmstadt GL. Cost-effectiveness of skin-barrier-enhancing emollients among preterm infants in Bangladesh. Bull World Health Organ. 2010 Feb;88(2):104-12. doi: 10.2471/BLT.08.058230. Epub 2010 Jan 8. PMID: 20428367;PMCID: PMC2814477.

2.Solanki K, Matnani M, Kale M, Joshi K, Bavdekar A, Bhave S, Pandit A. Transcutaneous absorption of topically massaged oil in neonates. Indian Pediatr. 2005 Oct;42(10):998-1005. PMID: 16269830.

3.Sankaranarayanan K, Mondkar JA, Chauhan MM, Mascarenhas BM, Mainkar AR, Salvi RY. Oil massage in neonates: an open randomized controlled study of coconut versus mineral oil. Indian Pediatr. 2005 Sep;42(9):877-84. PMID: 16208048.

 

 

Tagged: baby, baby skin, caring for baby skin, eczema, emollient, fatty acids, healing skin, holistic baby, holistic baby care, how to care for baby skin, infant, natural, Natural remedies, new baby, nourishing, organic, skin food, understanding baby skin

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