Protect Against: Dry Skin
Babies have fewer oil glands than adults do, so their skin can quickly lose moisture and elasticity in dry winter air -- particularly if they have eczema (extremely dry, red, scaly skin).
Cool tips: To help maintain indoor moisture levels, place a bowl of water in your baby's room each day (you can also use a cool-mist humidifier), suggests Susan J. Hubbard, M.D., a pediatrician in Dallas. Daily baths are fine for most infants -- just keep them short and use tepid water and fragrance- and alcohol-free bath products. "Then apply an unscented lotion like Eucerin to wet skin immediately after bathing and several times each day," Dr. Levine advises. If your baby has eczema, soap only the areas that need to be cleaned well, such as the underarms, backside, groin, feet, and neck folds. Follow with a moisturizer like CeraVe or Aveeno Advanced Care, both of which contain ceramides, lipids in the skin that kids with eczema have a tough time producing, Dr. Hubbard explains.
Protect Against: Heat Rash
Overdressing can cause a baby to sweat excessively, which can clog her underdeveloped sweat glands. This traps perspiration under the skin, resulting in a red, bumpy rash.
Cool tips: Heat rash most commonly appears on a baby's neck and chest area. To keep it at bay, dress infants in light, breathable layers and follow our tips for a just-right sleep environment. "Heat rash usually resolves in a day or two on its own," says Dr. Hubbard, so if your infant gets one, focus on making sure she doesn't overheat again. If it doesn't clear up, ask your doc about using an OTC hydrocortisone cream, which is safe for infants over 6 months.
Protect Against: Chapped Face
An infant's constant drooling and runny nose can break down the top layer of skin around the mouth and chin, making these areas vulnerable to chapping -- and sore as well, especially when exposed to dry winter air.
Cool tips: If your baby's face is starting to look irritated, create a barrier between his skin and saliva and nasal secretions by rubbing on an ointment like Aquaphor, says Dr. Levine. "A thin layer is all that's needed." The greasy stuff will both prevent and soothe chapping.
Protect Against: Sunburn
Even when it's not especially sunny or hot outdoors, UV rays can still do damage to your baby's skin, particularly when reflected off snow.
Cool tips: If you'll be outside for more than a few minutes, in addition to using a weather shield on your stroller or carrier, rub an SPF 30 stick containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide onto your baby's exposed skin.