This post was last updated on February 15, 2023 by Preethi Sukumaran
Anxious new parents ask us how they can improve baby’s skin naturally and how they can take care of baby skin using the principles of Ayurveda. For parents looking for holistic skincare for baby, or products to help dry skin, Ayurveda provides many answers. In this post, we will discuss 5 simple ayurvedic baby skin care tips . These 5 skin care practices also help boost baby’s immunity and overall health.
Why is a baby’s skin and hair so fragile yet important?
Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. It is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms which work along with us to ensure a constant pH of 5.5, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.
The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.
This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults – so it makes NO sense to keep on massaging them and washing them with toxin filled synthetic oils, lotions, creams and soaps. Even if the label says that it is “gentle” and will not make your baby cry, it could damage a baby’s delicate skin cells. And also lead to skin problems and other health problems later on.
How should we be protecting and caring for baby’s skin instead? Read on below for 5 simple ayurvedic baby skin care tips .
5 simple ayurvedic skin care tips for baby
1. Baby massage everyday before bath with a nourishing ayurvedic baby oil
As your little one’s skin is still under-developed, the sebaceous glands are not fully formed. Therefore there is a decreased production of natural oils to coat the skin. In adult skin, the natural sebum also forms the skin’s barrier function. So in the absence of this, the baby’s skin requires daily massage using an ayurvedic oil.
Oil application on babies’ skin has a twofold effect: ayurvedic baby oil penetrates skin quickly to keep skin hydrated and well nourished.
An ayurvedic baby oil also has the ability to work with the skin to boost its barrier function. This increases the baby’s immune response and improves the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful micro organisms.
We recommend daily oil massage of the baby 15 minutes before the bath using ayurvedic baby oil. This helps improve skin health by boosting natural oils and improving skin’s barrier function. Everyday oil massage is a critical part of a good ayurvedic skincare routine for tender skin.
We recommend using an ayurvedic baby oil over using plain vegetable oils like sesame oil, almond oil or any other plain vegetable oil. This is because an ayurvedic baby oil penetrates skin better and delivers botanical nutrients from the herbs added to the oil to impart extra benefits to the baby.
2. Cleanse baby’s skin ONLY with an an ayurvedic cleanser
According to ayurveda, the baby’s snana or bath is an extremely important part of the baby’s overall skincare routine. That is why an ayurvedic bath forms a part of this list of ayurvedic baby skin care tips. As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sweating mechanism is not present. Therefore it is important to assist the skin in its thermoregulatory function.
For thermoregulation, the srotas (minor channels of the skin) need to be massaged, detoxified and cleaned well every day. The massage of the skin every day helps deep cleanse the srotas.
Snana (bath) that follows should be done using a mixture of grains, lentils and Ayurvedic herbs. This mixture has the capacity to gently massage the srotas, and remove toxins along with excess oil. When the srotas are active and clean, they can do the job of thermo regulation properly.
Synthetic baby wash products and chemical baby soaps do a poor job of keeping skin healthy, especially the important srotas of skin. Such skincare products also strip delicate skin of its natural oils, often leaving it dry and sensitised. No matter the baby’s skin type, we suggest choosing an appropriate ayurvedic body wash powder for daily bath. An ayurvedic baby ubtan or body wash powder that has been carefully formulated and made is much gentler on tender skin, caring for it better.
As per Ayurveda (unless you live in a very cold climate), the srotas should not be masked or covered after a bath with any moisturising substance. This brings down their activity. This is why Taila abhyanga (body massage with oil) is done in Ayurveda before the Snana.
Even in cold climate, using an ayurvedic baby oil to massage the baby before bath, and then using the correct baby ayurvedic cleanser itself does a good job of keeping skin healthy. Sometimes additional light oiling can be done again a few hours later if the weather is cold and dry.
When we use the correct baby care products and look after skin according to ayurvedic principles, there is NO NEED to apply any baby lotion to protect your baby’s skin after bath. This helps keep the skin free to perform optimally and also reduces the toxic load on the baby.
Please note, that is your baby has sensitive skin that is prone to extreme dryness or rashes, you should choose from a specially formulated sensitive range of ayurvedic baby products only. Regular ubtans or oils may not suit your baby’s skin.
3. To keep baby’s skin healthy , prepare bath water with herbs
To boost baby’s immunity, support skin and keep micro organisms and diseases causing germs at bay, Ayurveda recommends adding natural ingredients in the form of ayurvedic herbs to the bath water. We must take precautions to add immune boosting and rakshoghna (protective) herbs to the bath water like Tulsi, Vacha, Daruharidra, Mulethi, Manjishta, etc.
For newborns or babies under 3 months, we can bathe the baby directly in this bath steep without adding any further water. For slightly older babies, we can add this prepared bath steep to warm bathing water.
How to make a bath steep for baby’s bath:
Mild decoction: Boil the collected herbs in 4-5 litres of water until the decoction reduces to 50% or 75% of its original volume. Strain and add to baby’s bath water. Ensure the temperature of the water is suitable for baby’s skin before bathing her.
Commonly suggested ayurvedic herbs for herbal bath:
- Tulsi – leaf
- Vacha – stem
- Daruharidra – bark
- Ashwathha (peppul) tender stem or leaf
- Vata (banyan – tender aerial roots)
- Bala root
- Manjishta – tender stem
4. Skincare starts with monitoring fabric contact – Follow the 3 step ayurveda fabric washing routine
Baby skin is underdeveloped and fragile. It lacks the ability to resist attacks by micro-organisms, fungal organisms and small insects and bugs. Hence, according to Ayurveda, parents should take special care of baby skin . This care extends not just to ayurvedic products for skin. But it also focuses on fabric and baby clothes that come into regular contact with baby skin. Synthetic detergent residue is a leading trigger for eczema and dermatitis in babies. Therefore , to keep baby’s skin healthy, we must use products that clean clothing and linen without leaving behind any harmful residue.
Step 1: Wash with a natural detergent
Ayurveda also recommends that all fabric coming into contact with baby’s skin is cleansed thoroughly in natural, non irritating, anti bacterial, “Rakshoghna” herbs like Shikakai, soapberry, Triphala, Vacha, Neem, etc.
To prevent rashes, contact dermatitis, we recommend double rinsing baby’s linen, cloth diapers and clothing using only a gentle natural detergent.
When we use the words “gentle, natural detergent” we mean a completely plant based herbal detergent that uses ingredients like soapberries and other ayurvedic cleansing herbs like Shikakai. Any other detergent which uses either castille soap or SLS is too harsh for baby’s skin. If using a synthetic detergent, consider switching to a completely natural detergent. A completely natural detergent can also be used to safely and thoroughly wash cloth diapers and nappies .
Step 2: Line dry in hot sun
After washing baby’s clothing in a completely natural detergent, line dry it in the hot sun (forenoon sun is recommended). Using natural sunlight helps deodorize, gently bleach and thoroughly clean fabric.
Step 3: Fumigate with natural herbs
Additional fumigation or dhupa of dried clothing is recommended in very young or delicate infants or in humid and wet weather. Fumigation can be done in pure sambrani (benzoin resin) or Guggulu resin.
Why is a 3 step washing routine a part of a post that is titled “5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin”? In our experience at Krya, synthetic detergents are the culprit for a huge host of skin related issues for baby.
Parents whose babies have very dry sensitive skin or conditions like contact dermatitis find that it vanishes when the detergent is changed. Switching to a good ayurvedic fabric washing routine can do wonders for baby’s skin health and help maintain good skin health.
5. Monitor baby’s body temperature – keep her warm
Because of the unformed nature of baby’s skin, infants are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity. Because of their growing nature and diet which is high in liquids, they are prone to kapha dosha imbalances. Hence Ayurveda suggests the following:
Keep infants well covered and slightly warmer than you would keep yourself. Protect all vata based organs like skin, feet and ears, especially when taking baby out in the open.
Babies must be bathed in warm, and not hot water. Check the temperature before bathing baby. Finish a bath with an application of Baby Rasnadi choornam to keep Kapha down.
Baby’s nursery should be kept slightly warm, and draughts of wind must not be allowed inside. Herbal fumigation with rakshoghna herbs atleast once a day, especially in late evenings is advised to keep infection at bay. Do read more about ayurvedic baby care practices in this post.
To sum up:
Baby’s skin is fragile and vulnerable. As the skin system is under developed, the products we apply on baby’s skin must protect and support its healthy growth.
Ayurveda offers worried parents many wonderful solutions to holistically nurture and care for baby’s skin. These solutions are specific and range from how baby’s linen must be washed to how baby must be bathed.
We hope you found these 5 simple Ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin useful and easy to follow. Please do try them out yourself or forward the same to a friend in need. We have a free detailed ebook on ayurvedic baby skin care and hair care which we recommend you download and read for more information on this subject.
If you have any questions or queries on the same, please write to us.