Babies are born with an alkaline skin surface, an average pH of 6.34. However, within days, the pH falls to about 4.95 (acidic) forming the ‘acid mantle’, a fine film that rests on the surface of the skin and acts as a protective layer. Its delicate balance must be maintained if the skin is to achieve an optimum level of protection. Washing a newborn in soap may disrupt this balance and reduce the natural enzymes and skin barriers needed.
UK rates of childhood eczema are among the highest in the world. The steady rise in infant skin conditions appears to be co-incident with the introduction of manufactured baby products over 50 years ago (Cork 2002).
Avoid bathing until the separation of the umbilical cord is complete so as not to disrupt the flora at the base of the cord and potentially hinder the natural process of cord separation. (Trotter 2013).
Vernix caseosa (VC)
That weird white sticky stuff on your baby is actually a highly sophisticated bio-film. It consists of antimicrobials, proteins and fatty acids. These combine to form a protective barrier that have two jobs, to act as an antibacterial and antifungal. It’s such clever stuff that you should leave it to be absorbed into your baby’s skin.
Overdue babies may have dry and cracked skin. This is because that weird white stuff (VC) has been absorbed already. It will peel off and leave perfect skin underneath with out any help. In fact, creams and lotions may make it worse and interfere with the natural process of this peeling. If you are concerned about your baby’s skin, always speak to your midwife or Health Visitor.