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

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

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

These five tips from dermatologists can make caring for your baby’s delicate skin, hair, and nails easier and less intimidating.

Bringing home a new baby is a time of joy and excitement. However, caring for them can be overwhelming — even for experienced parents. Fortunately, five simple tips can help make caring for your baby’s delicate skin, hair, and nails easier and less intimidating.

To help care for your baby, dermatologists recommend 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. 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.

To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit Find a Dermatologist.

Related AAD resources


Last updated: 10/25/21


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

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