The newborn’s skin tends to be dry and scaly. Since he has just come from spending nine months in a brine solution, this condition is not to be wondered at. But even if it should receive no special care beyond sponge bathing. this rough skin under natural conditions will soon become as smooth as . . . well, as smooth as a baby’s bottom, to use a popular comparison. With one preventive exception aimed at diaper rash (of which most babies sooner or later have at least a touch), the newborn’s epidermis can get along very well without special unguents, lotions, powders, or oils.
This is not to say that infants do not enjoy being laved with oils and sprinkled with powder. only that oils and powders are not medical necessities. In fact, caking a baby with oil and powder may bring on or aggravate heat rash instead of preventing it or soothing it. Until the cord falls off and the navel heals (that is, for the first couple of weeks) washing is usually confined to sponge bathing, with soap used only on the baby’s bottom. A mild soap or cleansing lotion is satisfactory. Stronger soaps may be irritating and for normal skin they are not necessary. Cradle cap, which looks like crusted, scaly skin, is not dried skin at all but dried oil from numerous tiny glands on the scalp.
It is very common in infancy. The recommended treatment is vigorous massage, combing. and brushing. not soap and water. If the cradle cap does not clear up in a few weeks under this treatment, consult your doctor. In the absence of cradle cap your initial washings of the scalp will be done with just warm water and a soft cloth. Later, say at three weeks, you can use soap on the scalp once or twice a week. Any of cute baby
The noisy breathing of small babies frequently alarms parents. The infant’s respiration in sleep may be loud enough to awaken a person in the same room. If he is thrashing about, he may pant like a fifty-year-old office worker running for a bus. At times he may sound as if he were in the throes of asthma. f-lc may sneeze often and vigorously. The parent frightened by thew noises overlooks the fact that the nasal passages of a small baby are very narrow. A mere speck of dust can trigger a sneeze. Sucking in the necessary volume of air through the small openings sets up noise. The loudness of the baby’s breathing is usually quite normal. The asthmatic sound, which is extremely disquieting to a parent with a history of asthma, is usually heard after the infant has been feeding.
This particular noise comes from the temporary lack of firm cartilage in the yoke hos: and will be heard until the airway matures, perhaps as late as a year of age. Some doctors call it the “floppy epiglottis sy• drone.” The best analogy to explain this wheezing like sound is that longtime favorite at New Year’s Eve celebrations, the rolled-up paper pipe you blow on. The epiglottis is a thin structure. somewhat like a valve, that covers the opening to the larynx to keep out food or fluid. Fully developed, it is fans with cartilage, but in some quite normal habits it rolls up and flaps like the paper pipe, making a similar noise. Feeding, bubbling, drooling, or a cold may accentuate this syndrome, but they do not cause it. Noisy breathing does not signify asthma or ill health, nor does it represent an inherited condition. It will pass.