Last month, I was honoured to be invited to the Johnson’s Baby Wet Wipe masterclass in Johannesburg. Being based in Cape Town, they decided to fly me over to be at the event. This was a huge deal for me, and it meant that they had some important information to get across.
The masterclass was hosted by the beautiful and quirky Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, and we were well informed about all of the do’s and don’ts of caring for babies nappy area by the highly educated Professor Carol Hlela and JOHNSON’S® Baby Portfolio Manager, Jacquelyn Paterson.
It’s amazing how few of us moms are actually well educated on how we should be looking after our babies nappy area correctly, and I certainly did learn a lot from the class. I think so many of us think that it is a straight forward process, if baby is happy and clean, but we actually don’t think deeper into what we are doing.
They mentioned that the most vulnerable skin area for babies is undoubtedly the nappy area. The reasons for this are self-evident – for most of the day and night, their delicate skin is enclosed in a nappy which creates a moist, humid environment.
Have you ever taken note of how many different brands of wet wipes are available on the shelf at your local grocer store? What determines your decision on which pack you purchase? Is it on special? Is it cheaper than the rest? Do you look at the ingredients? Are you a creature of habit? Is it organic/natural? Do you like the scent? Is it the quality of the wipe?
No wonder we feel so overwhelmed as parents or grandparents or carers of young children? How are we ever supposed to know which is correct when we are suffocated with options? Did you know that some brands of wipes are too dry? They don’t have enough water in them, which means that you use more each nappy change anyway? Did you know that some brands of wet wipes that you love because they smell so nice are actually packed with ingredients that aren’t good for babies skin and sensitive nappy area?
We were taught about the different layers of the skin in the nappy area and I actually found myself wondering how I ever thought that it was all so straight forward. Being educated on this area can really save a new mom from so many stressful and heartbreaking encounters. Understanding how this area works can save your precious babe from nappy rashes and the pain that comes with them.
Did you ever think about the fact that a wet wipe is the one thing that touches your babies skin the most for the first year of their life? How crazy is that? You think about when you have visitors over and you make them sterilize their hands every time they’ve touched anything other than your baby, but we don’t even think twice about this important statistic!
Did you ever have the thought cross your mind when making that typical new parent comment about how soft your babies skin is. You feel theirs and compare it to your skin that may be dry and tough, and probably even slightly aged. Babies skin is not only 3x thinner than an adults, but is more permeable and also loses moisture up to 5x faster.
Doctor Hlela, paediatric dermatologist, explains: “Healthy skin plays an important role in the overall health of a baby as it provides a protective barrier that prevents infections, water loss and the penetration of irritants and allergens. The first months of a baby’s life are crucial, as damaged or dry skin can allow germs to pass through more easily. Skin penetration can result in skin inflammation, allergies and bacterial colonization. If the skin barrier gets compromised, this can increase susceptibility to microbial and chemical attacks.”
I hope that this helps you for future nappy changes, maybe this can be an important tool to pass on to other parents-to-be:
How to keep baby’s nappy area healthy:
The Nursing for Women’s Health (AWHONN) recommends 5 steps to protecting the delicate skin barrier which is as simple as following A, B, C, D, E:
Air – Include Nappy-free time: expose the nappy area to air, frequently, and for as long as possible. Your baby will love that feeling of fresh air against those chubby bum cheeks, and there’s nothing cuter, right? But, on a serious note – exposing that diaper area to air will reduce the chance of your baby ending up with a rash or any infections.
Barrier – Use a great barrier protection with an emollient: The vulnerability of baby’s skin barrier requires protection with specially formulated moisturizing emollients. Using a barrier cream that provides a lipid film will protect your baby against exposure to irritants such as urine and stool. Emollients can strengthen and enhance the health of babies skin, reducing the risk of pathogens penetrating the skin.
Cleansing – Gently cleanse the area with a baby wipe at every nappy change. When cleaning a baby’s nappy area, make sure that the urine and stool are dealt with separately. Never link the two. Clean the stool first, take a new wet wipe, and then clean the urine area.
Diaper – Choose super absorbent diapers and change them frequently. Unfortunately, not all brands of nappies fit this brief. Failing to do so could mean that the urine and stool is resting on the part of the diaper that is constantly touching babies skin. This can really provoke discomfort for them and can also cause major issues for this area. Ensuring to do frequent diaper changes and understanding your babies general routine will assist you in figuring out how frequently you should be changing their diapers in order to avoid any irritation.
Educate – Educate other moms and care givers to follow the proper nappy hygiene skin care practices.
I also wanted to take a moment to give you a little bit of advice that may help you narrow down your options when it comes to doing your wet wipe shop. This should help you feel less overwhelmed by all of the options, and will provide you with that peace of mind knowing you are using the best on your baby’s skin:
WHICH IS THE GENTLER CLEANSER – WATER & COTTON WOOL OR BABY WIPES?
Bathing your baby with a gentle cleanser in a tub of water not only helps keep her skin healthy but is also a wonderful bonding ritual that helps promote her sensory development. But in between baths, babies need to be gently cleansed at every nappy change. Water does not easily remove oily substances from the skin and tends to have a pH level that is higher than that of baby skin.
Depending on the water quality in your area, it may also be “hard” which can cause skin dryness. Good quality wipes like JOHNSON’S® are pH buffered to suit baby skin and contain gentle emollients for skin protection.
JOHNSON’S® Baby suggests parents look out for the following when choosing wipes:
- Gentle emollients to protect the skin from damage caused by frequent cleansing.
- The pH level in wipes should be as close as possible to baby’s natural pH which is around 5.5.
- The type of fabric used for the wipes is extremely important. JOHNSON’S® always uses 100% cotton because it is soft for the skin and reduces friction.
- Read the ingredients on the packs and avoid products with strong chemicals such as ALCOHOL, SOAP, TRICLOSAN or even ESSENTIAL OILS which can have an irritating or drying effect on the skin.
- Not all fragrance is baby skin appropriate – use a wipe that is mildly fragranced or fragrance-free, proven safe to use on sensitive skin.
JOHNSON’S® is also sharing their TWO-STEP ROUTINE to keep the skin barrier in the nappy area healthy:
STEP 1: CLEANSING AT NAPPY CHANGE
JOHNSON’S® Baby Wipes
- Optimally designed for cleansing babies’ sensitive area
- Made with soft cloth to reduce friction on delicate skin
- Contain 97% pure water
- pH buffered to suit baby’s natural pH level of 5.5
- Free from alcohol, soap and essential oils
- Enriched with mild emollients to protect the skin
JOHNSON’S® Baby Wipes are available in 2 variants:
1.EXTRA SENSITIVE WIPES are ideal for newborns and very young babies. These ultra-gentle, fragrance-free Wipes are clinically tested and proven as safe as pure water on newborn skin
2. GENTLE ALL OVER BABY WIPES are perfect for older babies. They effectively cleanse everything from wet bottoms to dirty hands and delicate faces.
*Both variants have the special NO MORE TEARS® formula which is mild enough to use even around baby’s eyes.
STEP 2: PROTECTING BABIES SKIN IN THE NAPPY AREA
After cleansing, apply emollient products that help strengthen and enhance the skin barrier like JOHNSON’S® Baby Jelly which has a soft texture that spreads easily and contains nourishing oils to help soften the skin. It forms a barrier against wetness, helping to protect against the causes of nappy rash.
AVEENO® Baby Daily Care Barrier Cream is another excellent option from the JOHNSON’S® stable. Unscented and suitable for newborns, it is formulated with colloidal oatmeal to actively soothe and reduce the redness of dry, delicate baby skin. Developed to minimize the risk of allergies, it creates a breathable skin barrier to protect against external irritants.
THE BENEFIT OF PETROLEUM JELLY:
– Emollients moisturize by supporting lipids, which are part of the natural make-up of the stratum corneum to provide optimal barrier protection.
– Petroleum Jelly provides greater lipid concentration and absorption versus other emollients, providing optimal barrier protection.
Who knew there could possibly be so much to learn about your babies nappy area? But, it just shows how educating yourself as a parent-to-be or carer can really save both you and your baby from a huge amount of pain and anxiety.
I found this masterclass incredibly insightful, and I honestly walked away learning so much that I didn’t know! You may already know this, or may be beyond this stage of your childs life, however, you can help somebody else by passing this information onto them. Perhaps this could even help you figure out which products to gift a friend who may be expecting.
In my home, wet wipes are a permanent resident – we use them for anything and everything – we might as well make the right choice in what to look out for when it comes to purchasing them for our family.
A huge thank you to JOHNSON’S® for providing me with all of these facts and tips.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS YOU’D LIKE ME TO GET AN ANSWER TO FROM EITHER PROFESSOR HLELA OR JOHNSON’S® BABY PORTFOLIO MANAGER, JACQUELYN PATERSON, PLEASE SEND ME A PRIVATE MESSAGE, AN EMAIL OR LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND I WILL GET BACK TO YOU WITH AN ANSWER.