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NEWBORN BABY GUIDE

When your baby is born, you may be overwhelmed by the many decisions that you need to make to give your baby the best possible start in life. One of these decisions will be the choice of skincare products to use.  We have put together this guide to help you understand your baby’s skin and make good choices when it comes to choosing skincare products.

UNDERSTANDING BABY'S SKIN & BIRTH

Human skin has evolved to perform the following functions:

  • Provide a barrier against harmful pathogens and chemicals
  • Absorb and shed water
  • Protect against UV damage
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Ensure the proper synthesis of hormones
  • Synthesise vitamin D
  • Provide sensory perception

To make good skin care choices for your baby, it is important to understand that there are differences between adult and baby skin. Baby skin is underdeveloped and delicate and cannot yet perform all the functions mentioned above. Young skin is more vulnerable to damage, which means that it needs to be treated with extra special care.

Here are the key differences between baby and adult skin:

BABY SKIN IS LESS ABLE TO RETAIN MOISTURE

Newborn babies have relatively dry and rough skin that hydrates within the first 30 days of life. Although older infants quickly develop better-hydrated skin in comparison to adults, their moisture levels tend to fluctuate more as well. Infant skin has significantly less natural moisturising factors (NMF’s) than adult skin. NMF’s are a group of naturally occurring elements, such as essential fatty acids, saccharides, urea and glycerin, that keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated. The lower concentration of NMF’s in infants is likely to reduce the skins’ water handling properties.

Pure Beginnings Recommends: 

Use a moisturiser with a natural vegetable oil base rather than a petroleum derived moisturiser base, as these have no nutritional value for the skin. Pure Beginnings uses natural oils like almond, avocado, Marula and olive, as they contain many NMF’s that supplement and nourish the skin and improve moisturisation. 

BABY SKIN IS MORE VULNERABLE TO SUN DAMAGE

The skin-darkening pigment known as melanin helps protect the skin from damaging ultraviolet light. Infant skin contains less melanin than that of adults and as a result, can be damaged more quickly from exposure to the sun. The thin outer layer of baby skin also heightens the risk of absorbing excessive ultraviolet rays.  

Pure Beginnings Recommends:

Be sun smart! Avoid exposure to the sun in the middle of the day and wear clothing and hats that protect the skin. Studies conducted on the use of sunscreens on infants show that their skin is not developed enough to properly absorb and distribute the chemicals used in most sunscreens. Based on this, we recommend avoiding the use of sunscreen in the first 6 months of life, and to rely instead on protective clothing. After this, choose a sun cream like the Pure Beginnings Sensitive Sun Cream which uses non-nano mineral filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UV rays.

BABY SKIN IS MORE PERMEABLE

Baby skin has fewer elastic fibres than adult skin. In addition, the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) is not as firmly attached to the deeper dermis layer, so it allows more substances to pass through it than adult skin does. The epidermis is in fact three to five times thinner than an adult’s and is made up of smaller cells. This means that the absorption of water and other substances into the body is increased. Since the skin can absorb irritants, allergens, and bacteria from the environment, a substance that manages to penetrate the skin is considerably more concentrated in a baby’s body.

Pure Beginnings Recommends:  

Read the ingredient list on the products you buy for your baby, and avoid anything that contains any of the following ingredients: parabens, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, mineral oils, harsh foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate, silicone, phthalates, triclosan, methylisothiazolinone (MI), EDTA, DEA, TEA or PEGs. If this baffles your mind too much, simply choose certified organic products like Pure Beginnings, as they are guaranteed not to contain any of the nasty ingredients listed above.

BABY SKIN IS MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO IRRITATIONS

The pH of the skin plays a crucial role in protecting against irritation and maintaining skin health. Conditions such atopic dermatitis and eczema are synonymous with pH imbalanced skin. The pH of adult skin is slightly acidic – between 4.75 and 5.75. Water has a pH of 7, which is considered neutral. Any pH above 7 is alkaline. This acidic environment is a key part of the skin’s protective barrier – it neutralises alkaline-based aggressors, inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria, and allows the skin’s microbiome to flourish. When babies are born, their skin pH is slightly higher than an adult’s – between 5.5 and 6.5 – but by the age of six their skin has matured to resemble more closely that of an adult.

Pure Beginnings Recommends:

To help prevent irritations, choose products that do not disrupt the natural pH of the skin. Many skin care products are alkaline in pH, and the worst culprits are conventional bubble baths and the common soap bar, which can have a pH as high as 9. Pure Beginnings skincare products are pH balanced correctly to healthy skin and allow the skin’s protective barrier to function optimally.  

BABY SKIN IS LESS ABLE TO REGULATE TEMPERATURE

Babies are not adept at body temperature maintenance as, unlike adults, the blood vessels in the dermis cannot widen or contract to regulate body temperature. Babies also have fewer sweat glands, so they are unable to cool down by sweating. 

Pure Beginnings Recommends:

It is important to manage the factors that can affect your baby’s body temperature. Use breathable layers of clothing to help regulate temperature for them. Ventilate and cool their body if it is overheated, especially if your baby suffers from a rash that may have been triggered by heat. Use moisturisers with a vegetable oil base which will allow the skin to breathe as nature intended. Petroleum based products block pores and prevent the skin from breathing adequately.

OTHER KEY FACTORS

TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT YOUR BABY'S SKIN

VERNIX CASEOSA

Babies are born with a luscious, thick, sticky substance on their skin, known as vernix caseosa. This is nature’s perfect moisturiser. Hidden amongst that velvety vernix is a world of microbes – microscopic single-celled organisms imperative for maintaining the health of the skin and body. These microbes are highly beneficial, and you should avoid removing them right after birth. The World Health Organisation recommends waiting at least 6 hours before bathing your baby, and if you can go a full 24 hours, even better. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF MICROBES ON OUR SKIN

The thought of microbes makes most people squirm! As a result, there is a tendency to over sanitise to get rid of these ‘harmful’ germs. In truth, all microbes are not created equal, and there are trillions of microbes living in and on the body that are vital for our health and wellbeing. The diverse population of microbes found on our bodies help improve the skin barrier, reduce water loss, and help to fight off infection. 

Where do we get our microbes?

Initially, exposure to the mother’s vaginal microbes during the birthing process provides your baby with its’ first dose of microbes. These microbes cover the skin and are also swallowed during childbirth. Over the course of early childhood, the microbiome diversity in, and on a baby grows the more microbes they are exposed to, and by the age of three the microbiome is almost adult-like.

Modern society, however, is responsible for a dramatic loss of microbial diversity for the following main reasons:

  • A rise in the number of Caesarean section deliveries, thereby reducing the exposure to vital microbes during childbirth
  • A decline in the number of mothers who breastfeed and/or a reduction in time spent breastfeeding, thereby minimising the nutrients required to develop the intestinal microbiome.
  • An increased use of antibiotics before and during pregnancy, and in the child’s early life can directly affect maternal microbe transfer or the child’s microbes afterwards.
  • A highly sterile environment and increased use of anti-bacterial washes, which reduces your child’s exposure to essential microbes in the formative years.

The impact of this loss of microbial diversity on our health can be seen in the increase of auto-immune diseases such as diabetes and celiac disease, depression, obesity, asthma, and allergies. In addition, microbial skin imbalances play a major role in skin sensitivity and atopic dermatitis.

Pure Beginnings Recommends:

Choose skincare products that allow the skin microbiome to thrive. Surfactants must be gentle so that natural oils are not stripped from the skin, and products should be at the correct pH of the skin. Vegetable oils are beneficial and should be used instead of mineral oils, and anti-bacterial products that contain ingredients such as triclosan should be avoided. If you have had a Caesarean or have a genetic history of sensitive skin or atopic dermatitis in your family, we recommend the Pure Beginnings Probiotic Baby products, which are formulated to protect and nourish the skin microbiome of newborn babies, as well as anyone with an ultra-reactive skin.

There are so many unknowns in this parenting journey but making informed decisions about what skincare products to use on your child is something you can control. The skin is your baby’s first line of defence, so to help maintain that defence, make sure you give it the TLC that it deserves.

PURE PRINCIPLES

SKIN. HEALTH. EARTH. DESIGN. PERFORMANCE. COMMUNITY.

These 6 principles are key in guiding our business. They affect all of our decisions and direct the types of products we produce, the suppliers we use, the contents of each product and how we operate.

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