As a parent , you love your baby from the start, imperfections and all. During that precious first year of life, your baby is still developing — both inside and out. The skin’s natural protective layer, for example, does not fully form until around age five. As a result, baby skin is delicate and easily susceptible to external irritants and common conditions like eczema and dryness.
Many of the conditions newborns experience will go away on their own, but like snowflakes and fingerprints, every baby is different. Fortunately, there are natural, gentle remedies that can help heal skin ailments, ease digestive issues and leave your baby smiling. Read on for some of the most common conditions affecting newborns in their first year and tips for treating them.
Moms learn to recognize the reason their baby is crying, whether it’s hunger or a dirty diaper. But if the crying is inconsolable, begins suddenly and for no reason, or is accompanied by changes in posture, your baby may be exhibiting signs of colic. According to Mayo Clinic research, colic affects as many as 25 percent of babies, but knowing you’re in good company does not make the situation any less stressful. Causes of colic may include gas, food sensitivity, acid reflux and irritability.
Different remedies work for different babies, so a trial-and-error approach is most effective. Many moms find that motion works well to help calm a baby. Swinging, bouncing the baby in your arms, rocking in a chair or putting your baby in a carrier where they can feel the warmth and comfort of your closeness can help. Soothing sounds or a lullaby can often help as well.
Giving your baby a tummy massage can help aid digestion, says Patricia Pol, a doula and certified infant-massage therapist at the Weleda Spa in Palisades, NY. She suggests massaging the baby’s belly with Weleda Baby Tummy Oil, which provides natural colic relief thanks to a blend of calming essential oils like marjoram, chamomile and cardamom.
“If you’re nursing and believe your baby’s colic could be food related, you may want to try eliminating dairy products, onions, garlic, cabbage, spices and any other potentially irritating foods from your diet,” says pediatrician Dr. Michael Allen, board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine. “Then reintroduce these foods one at a time to see what might be causing the problem.” Weleda Nursing Tea, made with digestion-soothing ingredients like fennel, fenugreek and lemon verbena, helps nursing moms with healthy lactation and also aids baby’s digestion.
This skin condition results in itchy, dry patches often found in the folds of a baby’s skin. Even though eczema is thought to be genetic, it can be triggered by dryness or harsh substances in diaper wipes, detergent, soaps or lotions. While cortisone cream is often prescribed for eczema, it suppresses symptoms as opposed to treating them, says Carolyn Dean, MD and author of Homeopathic Remedies for Children’s Common Ailments. “Instead of simply treating the symptoms,” says Dr. Dean, “the key is finding the cause.” Dust and dust mites, for example, are a common culprit. Dr. Dean suggests using dust mite mattresses and pillow cases. Using soothing, natural products like Weleda’s Calendula Baby Care can help as well. The products nourish and protect a baby’s delicate skin with calming plant extracts, natural protective waxes and oils from sun-ripened seeds and nuts.
Baby acne is a common condition that can show up in the weeks following a baby’s birth, or just in time for baby’s first photo shoot. “Baby acne is thought to be due to maternal hormones that are passed across the placenta during pregnancy,” says Dr. Allen. “It can be made worse by things that can irritate your baby’s skin, like harsh detergents, rough blankets or sheets and frequent spit-ups.” His advice is to wash baby’s face with a soft cloth and use cotton blankets and sheets. “In time, it will completely go away,” he says.
Pol stresses that less is more when it comes to baby acne. “The oil glands are trying to figure themselves out in terms of how much oil they should produce,” she says. “If you try to treat it by bathing the baby too much, it often makes the situation worse.”
Just like we do, some babies have a natural tendency toward dry skin. Bath time, which can be fun and soothing, can also cause a baby’s skin to become dry. Pol says to make sure your baby’s bathwater is not too hot, and she recommends adding Weleda Calendula Cream Bath to the water to gently cleanse while retaining moisture. “Weleda products are a good choice because they do not contain irritating synthetic ingredients or artificial fragrances,” she says. “After a bath, apply Weleda Calendula Lotion, or if your baby’s skin is especially dry, you may want to use the richer Calendula Baby Cream. Both contain sweet almond oil, which provides the skin with a nourishing, protective barrier.”
You will know your baby is teething if they exhibit these tell-tale signs: drooling, irritability and constantly putting things in their mouth. Dr. Allen notes that the average baby will break teeth through the gums at about four months. The most effective treatment is to find what best soothes the gums through trial and error. “Have your baby chew on your finger, a teething ring, or something cool, soft and flexible,” says Dr. Allen.
After baby’s teeth come in, Pol says you can use Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel by putting it on your finger and rubbing it against their teeth and gums. “The fennel, mint and calendula in the formula have healing properties that will soothe irritated gums,” says Pol, adding that she hasn’t met a baby yet who didn’t love the taste.
Often cradle cap develops in the first few weeks of a newborn’s life, but the signs can appear anytime during the first year. “Cradle cap — distinguished by a scaly appearance that looks like dandruff — will often go away on its own as the baby’s oil glands begin to regulate,” says Pol. “In the meantime, you could try this treatment option: Massage Weleda Calendula Oil lightly on the area, wait 15 minutes, and then wash it off with Weleda Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash using a soft cotton washcloth.”
Remember, whatever skin condition may pop up in your baby’s first year pales in comparison to the amount of love and affection you’ll be showering him or her with. In many cases, a gentle, loving touch — and time — are all you need to keep baby’s skin baby soft and healthy. -Judy Koutsky
These four natural ingredients found in Weleda Calendula Baby Care will protect, nourish and hydrate your baby’s skin.
Sweet Almond Oil: Contains a high content of essential fatty acids that help protect skin from drying and improve its barrier function.
Calendula: Gentle and nourishing, calendula flower extract possesses powerful healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sesame Oil: A warming and protective oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, sesame oil assists in the buildup of the skin’s natural lipid layer.
Chamomile: The small white flowers of this plant possess soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that help calm sensitive skin.