With cold, winter air, adults and babies alike are at risk of losing natural moisture, often leading to uncomfortable chapped lips. While adults are able to easily grab almost any lip balm off the shelf, the solution is not as easy for infants. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to help prevent and treat this problem.
Protect Baby from the Elements
Much like any other cold-weather protection, it’s important to protect your baby’s lips when going outdoors, but don’t reach for your usual lip balm. Adult balm formulas contain chemicals that may not be safe for a baby’s sensitive skin. Instead, ask your pediatrician for a recommended baby-safe, natural product. You can also easily protect a baby from the elements by purchasing a cover for the car seat or carrier, and ensure the baby is faced away from any strong, cold winds when outside.
Create a Protective Barrier
Babies’ lips are typically quite wet as they often are licking their lips and drooling. This constant exposure to moisture can break down the protective top layer of skin, making them more prone to chapping. You can help by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly with a cotton swab before bedtime or prior to going outside in the winter.
Select a Natural Soother
Lanolin is a natural skin-soother made from sheep’s wool and has long been used to treat skin discomfort, dryness, and itching. Lanolin is often applied to the skin of the nipple area to treat discomfort caused by breastfeeding, making it a great option for baby’s chapped lips. For mothers who breastfeed, applying some breastmilk to baby’s lips, or simply not wiping off during or after a feeding will also provide natural soothing. A tiny drop of coconut oil or olive oil applied with a cotton swab will also help to provide baby with much-needed relief.
Moisturize the Air
If you’re spending most of your time indoors and baby’s lips are still drying out, your home’s forced air could be to blame. Invest in a basic hygrometer (around $15 at online retailers or home improvement stores) and test your home’s humidity. A humidity level of 45-55% is a good range for health and comfort (the EPA recommends indoor humidity not go any higher than 60% due to a potential for mold). If you find your home’s humidity is lacking, you may want to purchase a humidifier, particularly one for at least the baby’s room. Be sure to keep an eye on the hygrometer and adjust your humidifier usage accordingly.
Dry skin around the mouth and tongue can be a sign of dehydration. Sticking to a regular feeding schedule for infants can help prevent chapped lips due to dehydration, but if you see other signs than just chapped lips, call a healthcare provider immediately. Signs that a baby is dehydrated include the soft spot on top of the head looking sunken and decreased urination, which the National Institutes of Health deems as fewer than four wet diapers in a 24-hour period.
If you have any questions or concerns about protecting your baby’s sensitive skin during winter, or other health issues for your children, contact us today.