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Do you know what's best for your child?

Dr Parul S Kolhe | March 29, 2005

All moms instinctively know what is best for their children. Or do they?

These days, with so many childcare products lined up in the stores, it is natural to be confused as to which one is best for your baby.

The key is, be aware. Do your homework. Proper knowledge can avoid several problems which could make your baby uncomfortable.

These handy tips will keep help keep your baby happy!

Baby skin must-knows

The structure of a baby's skin differs from an adult in several ways.

The lower layers of the skin, known as the dermis, are not fully developed nor are the oil-secreting glands active till the age of 10 years or so.

As a result, their skin is thinner, more delicate, tends to lose water and dry quickly.

On the flip side, their skin also absorbs more of any cream/lotion ointment. So you must be very careful not to apply strong medications or harmful substances.

Giving your baby a massage?

1. A pre-bath oil massage, contrary to popular beliefs, is not necessary.

2. If social customs necessitate it, do it with plain coconut or olive oil.

3. Special massage oils with additives have no extra benefits and may, in fact, irritate your child's delicate skin.

4. Rub gently in the direction of hair growth, not up and down, as this pushes bacteria into hair follicles causing infections.

The baby bath

1. Bathing must be done in lukewarm water.

2. Use gentle glycerine-based or pH balanced soaps like Pears or Dove (Rs 18.50 and Rs 35 respectively, available at all grocery stores and chemists).

Normal soaps are alkaline and tend to damage baby skin, though they work okay for some adults.

3. If your baby has sensitive skin (skin will tend to get dry and starts looking scaly after using soap), use Cetaphil soap free cleanser (Rs 90, available at all chemists).

4. Post bath, apply moisturiser. Again, in the direction of hair growth, ie from the shoulder to the wrist if you applying moisturiser to your child's arm.

5. Absolutely avoid coloured or perfumed moisturisers, even so-called baby products which are tinted to make them more attractive.

Use Efaderm cream or Cetaphil moisturiser (Rs 80 and Rs 117 respectively, available at all chemists).

6. You may use talcs meant for adults as most baby powders have essentially the same compositions. Just check the texture on your inner arm and select a brand you feel is the softest.

7. Do not overdust your baby as talc accumulates. When it mixes with sweat and urine, it forms a pasty collection in the body folds. 

Baby skin trouble?

Here some common mishaps and how to deal with them:

~ For birthmarks

Red swollen birthmarks may look ugly, but forget about them.

They disappear on their own in a few. Interfering too much may leave permanent scars.

~ For cradle caps

Seen soon after birth, it is a sticky dandruff-like scaling, which covers the entire scalp, even extends to the face sometimes.

Simply apply a lot of oil to soak and loosen the crusts. Wash off after a few hours.

Apply Lacticare-HC lotion (Rs 235, available at all chemists) on the face.

~ For nappy rashes

Stop using plastic or synthetic diapers. No oil massages in the area either.

Use diapers made of cotton polymers (check the wrapper), which are more expensive but safer to use .

Clean with lukewarm water only.

Dry well and consult your dermatologist to rule out fungal infection.

If all is well, you can apply Lacticare-HC or Desowen Lotion (Rs 64, available at all chemists) once or twice a day.

~ For insect bite reactions

All children sensitive to insect bites must be made to sleep under a mosquito net as repellents are never 100 per cent effective.

They should be clothed in full-sleeved and full-legged garments.

Mix Flucort lotion (Rs 15, available at all chemists) and calamine lotion in a ratio of 1:4 and apply twice daily on the bites.

For prickly heat

Babies and small children are very prone to this.

Bathe your baby two to three times in a day with cool water.

Dress your baby in loose, minimal cotton clothes.

See that the room is well ventilated and apply Ayur or Markal calamine lotion (Rs 33, available at all chemists).

~ For atopic dermatitis

Many children suffer from this familiar sensitive skin problem where they get rashes on the folds of their arms, legs and face.

The skin becomes dry and feels itchy.

Bathe your baby with only soap-free cleansers like Cetaphil.

Use a moisturiser frequently and visit your dermatologist regularly for proper guidance and treatment.

If any of these conditions persist, worsen or get infected, and pus-filled boils start to appear, rush your child to a dermatologist.

No jewellery please!

~ Ornaments are best avoided on babies, though religious sentiment in our country mandate these things.

~ It is cruel to load a tiny baby with heavy copper or silver anklets, medallions or bangles and charms to ward off the evil eye.

~ Please wait till your child is at least three years old before you put jewellery.

Your baby's skin is precious and delicate and needs the best of care!

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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Number of User Comments: 7

Sub: diet for 9 months old baby

really, this article helped me a lot! do you have something to share on baby food and diets?

Posted by indu

Sub: Baby care tips

VERY EXCELLENT ! It was very excellent to read the article on "Baby care tips on skincare". I am very thankful to you to give ...

Posted by Vrushali Shelar

Sub: Skin care and your baby

Article is very useful. All these days I was bothered that I do not give pre-bath oil massage to my son but this article cleared ...

Posted by Mrs.Gowri Arul

Sub: You have to look beyond tradition

I read your article and do not agree to all that you have quoted here. There are special oils in Ayurveda that are used for ...

Posted by Mahesh Krishnamurthy

Sub: child care

Read the article carefully. It was well versed and knowlegable . Thanks a lot for such articles

Posted by seema


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