With cold weather pretty much here for lots of us, and on the way for the rest of us (wah!), this is the time of year we start getting more reader questions about baby and kids’ skincare. I know it’s hard to weed through all the info; I’m sure you’ve read all sorts of things about what to do, what not to do, which of those lotions and potions in your medicine cabinet to use, and how to differentiate a minor skin issue from something that might require more attention If you’re like me, by the time you figure out what you’re doing, your baby may have rough hands, chapped lips, or rashes in their creases.
Gah. Winter parenting is hard!
That’s why I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to chat directly with Dr. Bill Sears on behalf of our sponsor Huggies, which you probably know is a company that’s had baby’s skin top of mind for many years now. And who better to ask my skincare questions than one of the most respected pediatric medical sources, right? Sure beats Dr. Google.
A Searselfie! Or…Searsfie? Selfears?
So I’m happy that Dr. Sears took the time to answer my questions, so I could share 5 smart, simple skin tips for parents that I hope will help you as much as they’re already helping my own four kids. And even better, they’re working on my slightly older skin too.
Take that, winter.
1. Turn the heat down, and the moisture up
If you have central heat in your home, you probably already know how tough it can be on skin. And sinuses. And nasal passages. And. And. And. That’s where a warm air humidifier or vaporizer can really help. (Sorry, cold air, you’re out.)
Basically, you want to keep your home heat at a lower temperature than usual, and bump up the warm moisture in the air instead.
Granted, you’ll have to get used to telling your older kids to put a sweater on when they complain about it being a little chilly — which I admit makes me feel like my own mom — but they’ll get used to it faster than you might expect. Their skin (and yours) will thank you. And hey, lower heating bills!
2. Moisture isn’t always a good thing
When it comes to baby bums and drooly chins, you probably already know that moisture is actually not baby skin’s friend. If you’re noticing irritation in those areas, you’ll want to use a barrier cream, like diaper cream in the diaper area (not on the face, obviously) to help keep moisture away. It’s a really small step that helps keep rashes at bay.
3. Soak skin, then seal it
You don’t necessarily need to bathe your kids every single day (good news for those of us who don’t do that anyway, ha) but when you do pop babies out of the tub or older kids out of the shower, gently pat them dry (Dr. Sears says no rubbing!) then cover them with lotion. You’ll want to do this while they’ve still got a little moisture on their skin to seal it in. That’s really the key to keeping their skin soft all winter long, and it’s just a matter of trying to factor that into the bathing routine.
4. What goes on inside impacts what’s on the outside
While we often think of staying hydrated as a warm weather thing, drinking plenty of water is super important during the cold weather months too. I know lots of kids aren’t great about drinking water, so figure out the best way to get your kids to drink more. In fact, we recently offered plenty of tips about how to keep kids hydrated that is worth checking out.
Personally, I try to keep my kids’ water bottles full at all times (I love the Bottlerocket water bottle, above), and easily accessible, whether we’re in the car, watching TV or they’re just hanging out in their rooms. I also make sure they have a water bottle in a color or style they each love, which makes them more likely to want to use it.
Also, certain foods can help with hydration. Think about those fruits and veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, and celery which are high in water content. Yogurt can help too. Especially in a fresh fruit smoothie, yum.
And here’s one tip that Dr. Sears shared that was new to me: Omega-3 fatty acids actually increase your skin’s ability to stay moisturized. So look for ways to get them into your kids’ diets, through foods like beans, olive oil, walnuts, winter squash. You can add flaxseed to a smoothie, and kids won’t even know it. And it’s a good idea to serve more fatty fish to your older kids; but if that isn’t their favorite of all meals, consider a fish oil supplement instead.
5. Teach kids about good skincare early
If your kids are like mine, they are constantly washing and disinfecting their hands all day long at school, which means little dry crackly hands. Don’t even get me started on the chapped lips and cheeks, particularly when it starts to get super cold outside.
Instead of always fighting with kids when they resist washing up (is that just me?), get them in the habit of lotioning their hands right afterwards, by keeping a kid-friendly pump bottle of lotion on the sink, or sticking a travel size container in their backpacks for school. Same goes for lip balms, which kids love rubbing into their lips by themselves.
As with the water bottles, I find if I let my kids pick their own, they’re more apt to use it. Funny, that’s how it works with me, too! A few gentle reminders to use lip balm and lotion every day, and they just may be doing it on their own. Which doesn’t just mean healthier, less uncomfortable skin for them, but one less thing for you to do. Gotta love that.
Thanks to our sponsor Huggies for giving me the chance to interview their spokesperson Dr. Bill Sears. Also for helping make it a lot easier to clean off all the sticky hands in my car.
And if you’re struggling with babies and kids with dry skin, be sure to check out products like Huggies Little Snugglers Diapers that have a special liner to keep moisture away, and their Huggies Natural Care Wipes, which are 99% water, and still a staple in my home.