What is the ideal baby skin care routine? This is a question we are often asked by new parents from the Krya community. There is a lot of anxiety around newborn care and baby care. As parents we all want to do the best for our children. We also understand how fragile and vulnerable babies are and dont want to make any mistakes in their routine and care. To address this, here is our piece describing the principles of ayurvedic baby skin care and how you should craft an ideal baby skin care routine.
Baby Skincare Basics All First-Time Parents Should Know
Baby’s skin is unformed – so it is important to aid its correct development
Ayurveda tells us (and this is corroborated by modern science), that a baby’s skin and hair structure are among the last major systems to be formed. The skin’s sweat glands and acid mantle take upto 3 years to form in babies. Both of these are key to the proper functioning of the body. The sweat glands when well developed help in thermoregulation and pass out wastes and toxins from the body. The acid mantle is a complex structure formed by a combination of the microbiome colony of the skin along with small exudates from sweat and the body’s natural oils. Together this acid mantle represents the body’s first line of defense against any invasive microorganisms.
We need to choose the correct skin care products that can support this growing skin system.
Baby’s skin has not yet learned to secrete natural oils correctly
As the sweat glands are not yet fully developed, the oil-secreting ability of a baby’s skin is also poor. This is because the production of Sweat and sebum go hand in hand.
As the natural oils are available in lesser quantities than needed on skin, a baby’s skin can quickly go dry with changes in temperature, humidity. Synthetic bathing products, using overheated water, or even using synthetic fabrics can quickly wick away natural oils from baby’s skin leaving baby’s skin drier faster than adults.
Bathing and skin care products we use must gently supplement the natural oils on skin, giving a boost to the microbiome colony and hydrating skin. Yet it must not be extremely thick or heavy and clog the skin delaying thermoregulation. the cleansing products we use must not wash away the microbiome colony or strip the oils from skin. It must cleanse without stripping skin and continue to support the skin’s microbiome colony.
Baby’s skin can’t thermoregulate efficiently
The sweat gland structure helps thermoregulate efficiently in adults by constricting and conserving moisture in the cold and in arid climates. conversely, in warm, humid climates, the sweat glands efficiently secrete out salts and wastes from the body leaving the body cooler and able to handle the rise in temperature.
This self regulating mechanism is weak and underdeveloped in baby skin. Therefore it can lose moisture too quickly in dry climates leaving the baby dehydrated and dry. In warm weather, it can leave the baby overheated as the skin is unable to adjust the sweat mechanism to cool down the baby naturally.
Baby’s skin can be easily triggered into allergies
The Kashyapa Samhita tells us that baby’s skin is “sukumara” delicate and responds to “sookshma” or subtle changes in texture and other triggers.
Ayurveda tells us that what is applied at the external level of skin can also influence the body at the level of the blood and get circulated to different parts of the body. In fact, an important aspect of treating blood based disorders is the external application of herbs on the skin. This not only reaches the blood but is also said to influence the lymph secretions and the rasa dhatu. This is why the biggest trigger to skin dryness and sensitivity are the very products we use on baby’s skin. Synthetic toxin laden soaps and moisturizers are not at all good for baby’s health the in the long run.
Apart from the products we directly use on baby’s skin, anything which comes into contact with baby also has the potential to irritate skin. The delicacy and sensitivity of baby’s skin itself leads to a greater ability to get triggered. This is why we find that even triggers like tags / labels on clothing, coarse fabrics, micro residues from detergents on fabric can all trigger sensitivity.
So apart from choosing the right skin care products, we must also look at other factors around the home to see if any other product we are using around the baby has the potential to trigger skin sensitivity.
What is the ideal baby skin care routine according to Ayurveda?
1. Oil Massage (Taila Abhyanga) – everyday from the 10th day after birth upto 12-18 months for baby
Oil Massage (Taila abhyanga) is a “Dina charya” or daily wellness practice suggested in ayurveda for all. It is especially valuable and important in the first year of baby’s life as it provides a good foundation for good skin health, development of immunity and overall health. If there are no birth-related complications, Abhyanga snana can be started from the 10th day of baby’s birth.
Abhyanga Snana benefits for newborn baby – 3 month baby
During birth, the ayurvedic texts tell us that the baby and mother both develop extreme shrama / fatigue. The compression of the bone and joint undergone by baby during birth leads to high exhaustion. So the taila abhyanga in this time helps slowly remove fatigue and assists the growing body.
From birth to the first 3 months is an important stage in the baby’s immune development.
The establishment of the natural microbiome colony takes place soon after birth. The microbiome colony is transferred from the mother’s birth canal to baby skin. Further , with skin contact and breastfeeding, more beneficial bacteria are transferred from Mother to baby.
So the taila abhyanga helps support this natural microbiome colony and helps in building the baby’s immune resistance and immune response.
Abhyanga Snana benefits for 3 month – 6 month baby
Between 3 – 6 months, the ayurvedic texts tell us that the baby’s body develops sthira / stability. The baby learns to hold their neck well without support. One of the 16 (shodasha) samskaras suggested in Ayurveda for baby is the baby’s first visit to the temple. This is suggested at 4 months, when the baby has learned to control their neck and can hold their neck without support.
The abhyanga during this period helps the body develop this stability. This impacts motor control, healthy weight gain ,healthy organ development and helps prevents skin dryness.
Abhyanga Snana benefits for 6 month baby and upwards
When the baby starts to crawl around 6 months, Ayurveda explains the further benefits of a continuing baby abhyanga snana. Now the oil massage helps in the healthy development of muscles, connective tissue, bones, motor control, strength and healthy weight gain.
It also imparts strength (balya), eliminates fatigue, improves digestion and nutrient absorption and nourishes skin to keep skin soft and supple .
What products to use for Baby Abhyanga Snana?
Abhyanga is ideally done with well prepared Ayurvedic oil. The combination of specific herbs added and processed with base oils helps improve the nutritive properties of the oil and its ability to penetrate and nourish the body from within. Plain coconut oil, olive oil, etc cannot deliver the benefits of an ayurvedic baby massage oil.
At Krya, we have 3 baby oils for Baby massage. They are made using a careful combination of herbs and are processed in a combination of oils including sesame oil, Karanja Oil, Kokum butter, etc. The oils are processed over 5 days to help the oil slowly absorb the nutrients of the herbs.
Krya Pushti baby massage oil ayurvedic is made with Ayurvedic herbs like bala, ashwagandha, vaacha, tulasi and manjishta. It is recommended if your baby has normal skin. When used regularly, it keeps your baby’s skin hydrated, healthy and nourished. It also supports the baby’s growing immunity and health.
We also have 2 Krya baby oils for babies with different kinds of skin sensitivity: dry eczematic skin & skin that is sensitive and easily prone to rashes & redness. For babies with dry, taut skin or dry eczema, we have formulated the Krya Sensitive Baby Oil for Vata imbalanced skin. In this oil, we use vata balancing, skin healing herbs like kushta, dwipantara vacha, ashwagandha, etc. With regular use, baby’s sensitive skin becomes healthier, well nourished, and comfortable.
For babies who have red, rashy and irritable skin which flares, or has an uncomfortable burning sensation, we formulated the Krya Sensitive Baby oil for Pitta imbalanced skin. To formulate this oil we use Pitta balancing, skin healing herbs like Sariva, Lodhra, Durva, Kushta & Nimba. With regular use, baby’s skin is soft, flares less, is less irritable & is better nourished.
Skin Massage Oils
2. Bathing Baby with the Right Snana Choornam (ayurvedic bathing powder)
A Snana (bath) gives many important benefits to your baby , apart from simply keeping baby’s skin clean. A good bath helps gently cleanse skin without disturbing the newly established Microbiome colony in skin.
The Microbiome colony on skin is our body’s first line of defense. It helps keep away invasive microorganisms like many gram negative disease causing bacteria. The skin does this by selectively hosting friendly microorganisms which along with our skin cells, sweat, oil and other exudates forms a complex layer above the epidermis. This structure is called the holobiont. It is highly specific and complex as different parts of our body carry different friendly microorganisms.
However this holobiont is extremely sensitive to changes in pH. When we use products that are different from skin’s natural pH or used bathing products with harsh detergents, chemicals, parabens, phthalates or preservatives, these chemicals rip through the microbiome denuding our body of friendly micro organisms.
This is why Ayurveda suggests using naturally occurring clays, grains and ayurvedic herbs, that do not irritate your baby’s skin. Specifically baby skin is soft and delicate and much more vulnerable to products that degrade the microbiome complex. This is because the skin is as yet unformed and the colony is only now beginning to be well established. Therefore using a microbiome friendly cleansing product that takes care of your baby’s skin is even more important.
Secondly, baby’s skin also needs dosha balance. When the doshas are out of balance, then this disturbs our immune response, and our body’s ablity to adjust with changes in temperature, humidity and weather.
Third, the baby’s body, because of its impaired ability to thermoregulate, needs special care while cleansing skin. The body should continue to be warm and the child’s skin should not be stripped of natural oils and feel dry.
To fulfill all these criteria, we should choose the right baby bathing products that help protect your baby’s skin.
A baby bathing powder should usually be formulated with certain categories of herbs. It is not enough to simply choose products made from herbs. The product should be specially and carefully made.
The herbs should be carefully cleaned and processed one at a time. Single processing of each herb is ideal so cross contamination allergy can be avoided. Care must be taken to make the consistency of the project extremely even and fine. This is to avoid triggering any skin sensitivity. Lastly, the formula MUST be well researched. Many ayurvedic herbs and general ubtans do not suit babies. So the formula must be truly be able to care for your baby’s skin.
At Krya, we have 5 baby bathing powders to choose from.
The Krya baby ubtan for baby boy or the Krya baby ubtan for baby girl should be used if your baby has normal skin and is being massaged with a product like Krya Pushti baby massage oil ayurvedic. These 2 ubtans are excellent to use after Taila abhyanga and add back a slight amount of warmth and control excess Kapha secretions in the body.
The Krya Gentle Baby Bodywash powder is a unisex bathing powder for babies (boys & girls) with healthy skin. It is extremely mild, gentle, non toxic and safe to use. While it is not mandatory to pre-oil the skin before using this product, baby massage is both essential and highly beneficial for all babies. So we recommend using this after baby massage (although it is not mandatory). This product pairs with any of our baby oils.
Dry skin and sensitivity is on the rise in babies. Ayurveda tells us that there are a variety of factors at play here. These could include a genetic propensity to such skin sensitivities, food based reactions, stress, etc. Sometimes the residue from other products used like synthetic soaps, detergents etc could also trigger these skin issues.
Ayurveda tells us that in dry and sensitive skin , we could see the involvement of aggravated pitta dosha or aggravated vata dosha as the primary imbalance.
With this in mind, we have 2 Krya Baby bodywash products for sensitive skin in babies. If your baby’s skin is extremely dry, flaky and feels rough without much moisture, there is probably a vata based skin imbalance at play.
For this skin type, we suggest the Krya Sensitive Baby Bodywash for Vata type skin. This is a 26 herb formulation which uses Vata balancing, skin healing herbs like Kushta, Karanja, etc. This is an extremely gentle and delicate cleanser that cleanses without stripping skin of moisture. We suggest pairing this product with Krya Baby Oil for Sensitive Vata type skin. This combination helps in common skin conditions like dryness and sensitivity and helps nourish and heal vata imbalanced dry skin
If your baby’s skin is highly reactive and gets sensitized easily leaving it looking red, puffy and irritable, there could be a pitta imbalance at play here. Pitta type skin is extremely reactive and skin can become red, warm and rashy.
For this skin, we suggest using the Krya Sensitive Baby bodywash for Pitta type skin. This is a soothing, delicate , pitta balancing baby cleanser. It is made from 24 ayurvedic herbs, organic lentils and gains which are chosen to soothe excess Pitta, calm down skin and gently cleanse skin. When paired along with Krya Baby Oil for Sensitive Pitta type skin, it helps calm, soothe and heal pitta imbalanced baby skin.
Body Wash & Ubtans
There are only 2 steps in the ideal baby skin care routine
Ok, that’s it. The ideal baby skin care routine from ayurveda has ONLY TWO MANDATORY steps: Taila abhaynga (oil massage) followed by a bath using a Snana choornam (ayurvedic bathing powder).
At this point you are probably rolling your eyes at us and saying “are you kidding me”? No, we are not. Great skin and health is actually that simple. If you learn how to take care of your baby’s skin by avoiding triggering products and do just a few things regularly and well, you have built a good skin care routine for your child. But here are some optional things you can do to keep the skin healthy.
Bathe the baby in warm (not hot) water that has been steeped in the correct ayurvedic herbs
A common mistake made in many homes is to bathe baby with extremely hot water. This is contraindicated in Ayurveda as it may trigger heat based sensitivity in baby’s delicate skin. Instead, we should use lukewarm water and not HOT water from the neck downwards to bathe the baby.
To make the water even more vata calming and good for newborn baby’s skin (or even babies under 1 year), we are asked to prepare this water in 2 ways:
1. Boil this water using “Agni” or fire and not using electricity (geyser). When we boil water on a traditional wood burning flame or even on the gas stove, the water comes into contact with air and there is a further “samskara” (processing) that takes place with the heating up of the water molecules through fire and air. This renders the water light, better to interact with by the skin and more vata calming . after boiling the water this way, we are asked to let it cool naturally in air until it reaches the required temperature. This is considered better than electrically heated water which is then cooled by adding cold water.
Even if we are unable to do this on a daily basis and we have to use water from the geyser, it is better to avoid mixing cold water into the heated water and bring down its temperature. If there is time, we can fill hot water into our bathing bucket and allow it to naturally cool and reach the right temperature before babys bath, if possible.
2. If possible, boil baby’s bath water along with vata calming, immunity-improving safe ayurvedic herbs.
To control the Kapha accelerating quality of water, to improve its hygiene, and to infuse the bath water with the botanical properties of ayurvedic herbs, Ayurvedic texts recommend steeping baby’s bathwater with appropriate herbs. This helps protect their skin and improves their immune resistance.
For newborn babies or babies under 3 months, the baby can be directly bathed in this herb steeped water. For older babies too, if you are able to make a large quantity of herb steeped water, it is extremely beneficial to bathe baby in this herb steeped water two or three times a week.
At Krya, we are currently testing formulations for herbal bath steeps for baby, so we do not have a ready made product on offer. Therefore you may try this herbal bath steep using a combination of as many of these herbs you can source for baby:
- Tulsi – leaf
- Vacha – stem
- Daruharidra – bark
- Ashwathha (peppul) tender stem or leaf
- Vata (banyan – tender aerial roots)
- Bala root
- Manjishta – tender stem
To read more such simple, non product related baby skin care tips, do read this earlier blog post of ours. In the next part of our blog post, we will be answering commonly asked questions on the ideal baby skincare routine.
Ideal baby skin care routine – commonly asked questions
What is the best baby skincare routine for newborn?
Newborn skin is delicate and needs great attention and care compared to adult skin. Ayurveda recommends bathing with plain lukewarm water or water steeped in the herbs mentioned above for the first 10 days. No other product is suggested, even an abhyanga oil or body wash powder. This practice helps ensure that your baby is not subjected to any harsh product and the feeling of being in the womb is gradually continued by using only plain or herbal bath water. This way we help gently and gradually introduce the child to the external world.
After the 10th day and any traditional naming ceremony, you can massage daily and bathe your baby with a suitable ayurvedic baby oil and ayurvedic baby body wash powder. Chemical baby skin products can cause allergic reactions and may be unsuitable for delicate soft skin. Additionally, care should be taken to keep your baby warm, well wrapped up, largely in seclusion along with the mother and away from too many visitors or trips outside.
Here is a first person account of traditional post partum and infant care written by a Krya customer you can read.
You can read more about the traditional ayurvedic baby care practices suggested in our detailed free baby care ebook below.
Ayurvedic Baby Skin Care & Hair Care – Free Krya E-Book
How can I keep my baby’s skin fair?
A baby’s natural skin colour can take time to settle down . However Ayurveda does not recommend any products or practices to alter or make a baby’s skin fairer. In fact a dark skinned baby is equally prized in Ayurveda. All we do in ayurvedic baby skin care is to keep the baby’s skin healthy and ensure its natural tejas / lustre shines through.
Skin colour is ultimately determined by genetics and ancestry. What we eat or apply on skin can do very little to alter the colour or melanin content of skin. Do read our longer opinion piece on fairness here.
My baby has dry skin. What lotion should I use to moisturize my little one ?
Dry skin has 2 causes – genetic and environmental. The MORE common cause for dry skin in baby are the environmental triggers we give to baby skin. As we have explained, baby’s skin is already extremely delicate and sensitive. It can be easily triggered and made more dry and sensitive if we make poor choices by using overtly hot water, drying soaps / body washes or use surface level moisturizing lotions which dont nourish skin deeply.
Give your baby the ayurvedic skin care routine we have described above. Please choose the Krya Sensitive Baby oil for vata type skin and the Krya Sensitive Baby Body wash for Dry skin. This will greatly heal and help your baby’s skin.
Can a dark skin baby become fair?
Baby skin colour is genetic. Please read our response to this above.
What skincare products should I use for a diaper rash?
Diaper rash is common when skin is prone to sensitivity and when the baby has not been changed or aired enough. A diaper rash is typically a sign of Pitta based sensitivity. so using Pitta balancing herbs, allowing contact with air (and no diaper), and creating a layer of oil between the skin and the diaper are all good choices to make.
To help heal the area, please use the Krya Sensitive Baby Oil Pitta after cleansing the area. If the area is not too close to the diaper area, please use the Krya baby Pitta healing mask once in 2-3 days to heal the skin further. Allow the baby time in plain underwear so that the area gets exposed to healthy air.
When using a diaper, cover the rash by dabbing it with the Krya Sensitive Baby Oil Pitta to keep their skin from directly touching the diaper. Try changing diaper brands and choose a product without added fragrances or use of bleached cotton to prevent skin from getting more sensitized. Alternatively, try a cloth diaper to help the skin breathe better.
Do remember that a diaper rash is a common skin issue. It is a skin condition that affects most babies at some point and can easily be healed.
How should we handle problems like cradle cap or heat rash?
For cradle cap, please read our detailed post on baby hair oil. Oiling the baby’s hair with a gentle ayurvedic baby hair oil helps slowly moisturize the scalp and bring down cradle cap. It is also important to choose an ayurvedic baby hair wash powder instead of a synthetic shampoo for babies. Scalp skin is delicate in babies and a shampoo can dry out and further irritate the scalp.
Heat rash is a pitta based sensitivity. we suggest using Krya Pitta baby body wash and Pitta baby oil. additionally, on the heat rash, we suggest using the Krya Pitta Baby Healing Lepa (mask). Pay good attention to the skin folds, as this is the area Pitta sensitivity often occurs. Keeping this area dry and exposed to air helps control heat rash.
What skin care products should I use to make my baby’s skin clear?
The clarity of baby’s skin depends upon the health of the skin and the overall diet of the mother (if breast feeding) or how the baby is reacting to the milk / supplements being given to the baby. If the baby’s skin has any cause of concern like serious rashes, blotchiness etc or you can see allergy based triggers do contact a vaidya for help.
Using the correct baby care products, and avoiding any environmental triggers like synthetic cleaning products and personal care products and synthetic fabric can help keep the baby’s skin in good health.
What are the factors that can trigger skin sensitivity and eczema in my baby?
Several environmental factors can trigger skin sensitivity in babies. Please read our piece on dry and sensitive skin in babies here for more information on this. Household cleaners, toys, and personal care products and fragrance-based cleaners can all trigger respiratory and skin allergies in children.
If your child has developed such triggers, please do a detailed audit of your home and eliminate all possible allergens that could be triggering skin irritation. Please pay special attention to detergent residues. The enzymes in synthetic detergents can often trigger skin problems like contact dermatitis and dry eczema in sensitive skin.
Please try eliminating potential triggers like this and explore more natural cleaner options in laundry and household care to protect your baby from such issues. In skin conditions like eczema , the skin barrier of babies is compromised. Please ensure you use the right products that help nourish and slowly heal the skin.
Should I be using a baby detergent for baby’s clothes and linen?
Chemical detergents have many worrying issues. The use of enzymes for stain removal , LABSA as the base , phosphate levels in detergents and compound fragrances are all points of concern. Enzymes for stain removal are linked to several respiratory disorders and can also sensitize the skin. The production of synthetic LABSA based detergents itself is a highly polluting process using up a lot of fresh water both during manufacture and during end use.
Phosphates in detergent is a big source of environmental pollution of fresh water. Finally compounded fragrances used in detergent can contain upto 300 synthetic derivatives which can again trigger respiratory and skin disorders.
The point we make is that synthetic detergents are a cause of concern from an environmental, and health point of view for everyone, and not just babies. But given babies’ delicate and sensitive state, parents should definitely look at a special baby detergent – it is great if they could explore better products for everyone else too.
Many baby detergents are a slightly less toxic version of adult detergents. They do not address the environmental and health risks we bought up here. So we suggest using herbs for laundry. Soapberries are an excellent indigenous way used over millennia in India for cleaning.
Explore the Krya Classic All Natural Fragrance free Soapberry detergent here – it is suitable for adult and baby clothing and can be used in a machine and in handwash. The detergent is made purely from soapberries and other herbs, contains no added chemicals like fragrance, phosphates, etc and is super safe for skin and health.
Krya Natural Detergent Powder – skin safe | conserves water
To sum up: the ideal baby skin care routine (ayurvedic)
We hope you found this piece on the ideal baby skin care routine interesting and informative. Our aim when we wrote this piece was to communicate in great depth and detail the principles of ayurvedic skin care and help you understand how the classical texts and Acharyas have understood and formulated principles for baby skin care.
Everything seems much more complex today. Whether it comes to hair, skin or wellness, we are drowning in a vast amount of information which becomes confusing and conflicting to work through. Through this sea of data, and contrarian opinions, Ayurveda has continued to be our lifeline and lighthouse. It offers principles and evidence-based advice rooted in the tenets of understanding a person as a whole. It is our mission to help spread more knowledge about this wonderful Science so more people can benefit from this.
If you have a question on this piece or any of our previous pieces or you would like to get in touch for product advice, do write to us or DM us on WhatsApp.