Caring for Newborn Skin

Is your newborn's skin dry and flaky? Does baby have unusual red marks? Find out what's going on with baby's sensitive skin and how to care for it.
ByVicki Papadeas, MD
January 30, 2017
Hero Image
Image: Bonnin Studio

Newborns’ skin (especially the face) is prone to peeling and irritation, and isn’t always quite as beautiful as you might expect in the beginning. You may have to hold out until baby’s around 4 months to see that soft, airbrushed, magazine-baby skin.

At birth, baby’s skin will appear to be dry. Since baby has spent the last nine months surrounded by amniotic fluid, his or her old skin wasn’t able to flake off like an adult’s does. So now baby’s basically in the process of peeling off all that skin (like a sunburn). Baby’s skin also starts out very translucent, so you’ll be able to see lots of birthmarks. As baby grows and the skin gets thicker, many of those marks will seem to disappear. In fair-skinned babies, you may often see a red mark between the eyes (an “angel kiss”) or on the back of the head or neck, on the eyelids, forehead, nose or upper lip (known as “stork bites”), which also becomes less noticeable over time. Next time your boss or partner gets mad, look closely though—you can still sometimes see these marks in flushed or angry adults!

In general, baby’s skin doesn’t need much specialized care…just a lot of TLC. A mild cleanser is safe, though many people recommend just plain water. These days, baby wipes—especially ones for sensitive skin—are so gentle that they’re generally safe to use once baby hits the one-month mark. Babies’ faces and genitals can use daily cleaning, especially in urban areas (like Manhattan, where I practice), for obvious reasons. Baby’s face takes a lot of abuse (just think of all that spitting up and drooling!), so do your best to keep it clean and dry. If baby’s skin seems excessively dry, irritated or itchy, or if you notice a rash or breakout, consult your pediatrician.

Related Video
Newborn infant

What Causes Baby Eczema—and How to Treat It

profile picture of Celia Shatzman
Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer
Newborn baby close-up of its face with baby acne.

The 411 on Baby Acne (and How to Treat It)

profile picture of Anna Davies
Anna Davies
Contributing Writer
Baby laying down while mom starts to change his diaper.

Your Ultimate Guide to Baby Rashes

profile picture of Celia Shatzman
Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer

Why Babies Get Hiccups (and How to Get Rid of Them)

profile picture of Meredith Franco Meyers
Meredith Franco Meyers
Contributing Writer
mom feeding her baby a bottle and reading him a book

6 Ways to Keep Baby Healthy

profile picture of Elena Donovan Mauer
Elena Donovan Mauer
Article removed.