Your toddler has become more resilient since his fragile newborn days, but his skin will still be more delicate than an adult’s for well beyond the first year. This means proper skin care methods need to be practiced year-round to avoid irritation and to keep him protected against the elements.
Here are some tips for keeping Baby’s skin healthy, both inside the home, and out.
- Bathing: Toddlers are constantly learning and exploring, which can lead to some majorly messy moments. As a result, you may find that Baby needs a bit more time in the tub than he did as a baby, which can cause skin to dry out and itch. To keeps his skin soft and moisturized, the best bet is to spot clean with a washcloth between baths, if you can. When Baby does need a full wash, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using mild, fragrance-free cleansers and soaps.
- Laundry: Toddlers make a lot of laundry, and using detergent that irritates Baby’s skin can have a big impact on both of your moods. Different children have different levels of comfort with ingredients in detergent like perfumes or dyes, but to avoid the chance of causing irritation or rash, many parents choose to avoid them entirely. Products that have a “free and clear” label don’t contain perfumes or dyes. And with these products, there’s no need to worry about washing extra loads of laundry, since “free and clear” products can be used for the whole family.
- Suncare: Warm weather means more time outside, but strong ultraviolet rays from the sun are a danger to anyone’s skin, and especially to Baby’s. You can keep him protected by shielding his exposed skin with a high SPF sunscreen that filters out both UVA and UVB rays. Letting him pick out his favorite hat and sunglasses at the store can keep him sunburn-free and stylish, and maybe convince him that it’s all his idea, if he likes his hat enough. Look for a hat with a wide-brim, and sunglasses with ultraviolet protection.
- Cold climates: Winter winds can be just as damaging to Baby’s skin as the summer heat. Between the cold air and indoor heating, your little one’s skin is likely to become at least a little dry during the cooler months, so now is the time to be vigilant about moisturizing. Like with other skin care products, unscented, natural products are the least likely to irritate his already-dry skin. Winter can seem like an unlikely time for a sunburn, but snow can reflect the sun back enough that, on a bright day of playing in the snow, a little sunscreen won’t hurt, either. When venturing out, dressing Baby in layers, and covering exposed skin with extras like hats and gloves, will keep him cozy and secure through the winter cold.
- Rashes: Even when you’ve done it all, rashes can be inevitable, and can pop up at any time of the year. For heat rash, it’s safe to use a low-dose (1%) hydrocortisone cream for a couple of days until it clears. If moisturizing cream isn’t cutting it in the winter, you can try switching to a hydrating ointment until the dryness improves. Another common complaint is diaper rash, which can be helped by diaper creams and “airing out” whenever possible. If the rash is especially stubborn, an ointment like petroleum jelly can help create a barrier between the wet diaper and your little one’s skin to prevent further irritation – although it’s a good idea to only use this method every once in a while, because while it does create a barrier between the skin and the wet diaper it can also block pores, and should only be used on newly-cleaned skin so it doesn’t seal in anything you might prefer to wash off.
Toddlers are prone to skin irritation, but taking a few precautions can make a big difference in keeping your child’s skin healthy. And as a bonus, toddlers’ skin repairs and heals much faster than adults’ skin does, so most skin issues can be resolved quickly with proper treatment.
- “Sunscreen FAQs.” American Academy of Dermatology. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs.
- “How to treat diaper rash.” American Academy of Dermatology. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/parents-kids/childhood-conditions/treat-diaper-rash.