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How to care for your baby's delicate skin, hair, and nails

Tips from board-certified dermatologists

ROSEMONT, Ill. (Oct. 26, 2021) — Bringing home a new baby is a time of joy and excitement. However, caring for them can be overwhelming — even for experienced parents. Fortunately, dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology say five simple tips can help make caring for babies’ delicate skin, hair, and nails easier and less intimidating.

“With their tiny hands and feet, babies can seem so fragile and vulnerable,” says board-certified dermatologist Kachiu Lee, MD, MPH, FAAD. “However, babies are more resilient than you might think, and parents can maintain good hygiene for their baby by following a few general guidelines.”

To help care for your baby, Dr. Lee recommends the following tips:

  1. Keep your baby clean. Gently bathe your baby two to three times a week. Start with sponge baths before switching to traditional baths once your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off and heals. When bathing your baby, use lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free baby soap and shampoo. Only apply soap to dirty areas, such as the creases in the neck and diaper area, and rinse off after cleaning.

  2. Change dirty diapers as soon as possible — even if they are just wet — to prevent diaper rash. If a diaper rash develops, be gentle when cleaning the diaper area and apply a zinc oxide diaper cream.

  3. Trim your baby’s nails. Trim your baby’s nails whenever they get sharp to prevent scratches. Use a nail file or emery board to create a rounded — not jagged — shape. Make sure you have plenty of light when trimming.

  4. Wash baby blankets, sheets, and clothing before and after use using fragrance-free detergents.

  5. Protect your baby from the sun. Shade is the best way to shield your baby from the sun. If you can’t find shade, make your own using an umbrella, canopy, or the hood of a stroller. Dress your baby in sun-protective clothing, including a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection. For more effective protection, choose clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number on the label. Minimize sunscreen use on children younger than six months old. However, if shade and adequate clothing aren’t available, parents and caretakers may apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to all skin not covered by clothing. Choose sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection, water-resistance, and an SPF of 30 or higher. Sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are less likely to irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. Remember to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming, as there is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.

“Maintaining healthy skin care habits during infancy, such as protecting your baby from the sun, can have a long-lasting impact on your child’s health,” says Dr. Lee. “If you have questions about how to care for your baby’s skin, hair or nails, talk to your pediatrician or a board-certified dermatologist.”

These tips are demonstrated in “How to Care for Your Baby’s Skin, Hair and Nails,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s “Video of the Month” series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails.

To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/findaderm.

More Information

Infant sun protection
How to bathe your newborn
How often do children need a bath?
Could my child have eczema?



Nicole Dobkin, (847) 240-1748, ndobkin@aad.org

(847) 330-0230, mediarelations@aad.org

About the AAD

Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential and most representative of all dermatologic associations. A sister organization to the Academy, the American Academy of Dermatology Association is the resource for government affairs, health policy and practice information for dermatologists, and plays a major role in formulating policies that can enhance the quality of dermatologic care. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to excellence in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of skin disease; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education and research in medical dermatology, surgical dermatology and dermatopathology; and supporting and enhancing patient care to reduce the burden of disease. For more information, contact the Academy at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), Instagram (@AADskin1) and YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).

Editor’s note: The AAD does not promote or endorse any products or services. This content is intended as editorial content and should not be embedded with any paid, sponsored or advertorial content as it could be perceived as an AAD endorsement.