Months before our daughter was even born, we did a ton of research on basic to intermediate infant care. We took classes, read books, scoured Babycenter and polled most of our friends with kids. We were so confident that we would be able to take perfect care of our perfect baby. You know, because unlike those *other* parents, we did our homework. We were prepared. Alas, one thing we didn’t spend even a moment thinking about was baby eczema.
In the first few weeks after bringing Cody home from the hospital, we did everything our infant care class told us to do. We slept her swaddled tightly on her back, fed her on demand, avoided bottles and pacifiers to make sure breastfeeding was well established, bathed her every other day and avoided lotions except after bath time. When I noticed some little red bumps on her face, I thought nothing of it. A little breast milk will clear that right up. When it started spreading to her chest and belly, I just kept it moving. No big deal! This just happens in little babies. Right?
It wasn’t until about 10 days before her 2-month checkup that our doctor called us out. I had rushed in after noticing a little bump on the back of her head, which turned out to be completely normal and fine. After reassuring me about her little lymph nodes he asked ever so sweetly, “So… What’s going on with her skin?” As a perfect mother, I thought nothing of this question. “Baby acne,” I said, confident he would applaud my wisdom and discernment from overreacting to something so mild. “It’s also been pretty hot out so I think it could be a touch of heat rash.”
“Well, baby acne typically doesn’t go past the nipple line and also, heat rash wouldn’t last this long. This is eczema,” he said. My mommy guilt was through the roof. You guys, I could have cried right there in the office. Luckily, I didn’t. I carefully wrote down everything he told me about clearing up her current breakout and avoiding it in the future.After that point, I went on a crusade to learn everything I could about baby eczema to treat it and prevent it from here on out. After nearly 12 months of caring for Cody’s eczema, I’ve accumulated a couple tricks to keep it in check and now I will share them with you!
- Do your homework. I can’t stress this enough. Thorough research includes talking with your child’s pediatrician and reviewing credible information sources. You and your child’s doctor are the best bet he has for dealing with any medical issue. I also have found lots of great resources through the National Eczema Association (NEA). Definitely worth checking out.
- Bathe your child less. For clean freak mommies like me, I know this may sound crazy. However, water can actually strip your child’s skin of the healthy oils that keep it from drying out. So, less is more. To be honest, it’s nice to have one less thing to do to take care of my kid each day.
- Moisturize. Moisturize. Moisturize. Since our daughter was diagnosed with eczema, she’s been lathered up with an eczema cream every morning and every night. I’ve found that be saturating her skin with the good stuff, she does much better. In fact, I often get compliments on how great her skin looks from moms who are shocked to learn that she has eczema. My pediatrician and many eczema experts recommend avoiding lotions, which primarily consist of water. Creams and balms are really where the magic is.
- Find eczema-friendly products you love. This has been an adventure in trial and error for us. We started with Weleda’s Baby Calendula Cream and used that for months with pretty solid results. However, Cody kept having minor breakouts on occasion so we decided to try something else. I went through a few options before landing on Mustela’s Stelatopia Lipid Replenishing Balm. I cannot say enough great things about this balm. It’s thick and luxurious, not to mention it makes my daughter’s skin feel like it did on the day she was born. After falling in love with that balm, I decided to check out more of Mustela’s Stelatopia line and was quite pleased. The milky bath oil is our usual bath time go-to and the cream cleanser is great for more when you need a bit more muscle.
- Avoid added scents, perfumes and dyes in cleaning products. All of these items can irritate the skin and if you’re dealing with eczema, you’ll need all the help you can get. Laundry detergent is a big one, since clothes, blankets and sheets are the closest to the skin.
- Watch the trigger foods. Since Cody had both eczema and acid reflux (the real kind where they projectile vomit like in The Exorcist), I had the distinct pleasure of eliminating lots of foods from my diet as a breastfeeding mom. Among foods that can cause eczema flare-ups in certain babies are dairy, acidic foods, gassy foods and grains. Thankfully, Cody’s sensitivity (via mommy milk) was limited to dairy.
- Give it time. After Cody’s first diagnosis, our doctor said it would take up to two weeks for everything to fully clear up. At the time it felt like an eternity but he was right. Since then, I’ve sort of kept that time frame as my assessment period for anything new I’m trying with Cody to see if it makes a difference. It can be frustrating to sit through a full 14 days to make a decision on a something, especially if it doesn’t seem to be working but in my opinion it is worth the wait.
- Keep an eye out for allergies and asthma. One bummer about eczema is can be linked to allergies and asthma. Knowing what to look for can help you get this diagnosed and treated early. Some things to look out for are red bumps on the skin, dry flaky patches, runny nose, wheezing or difficulty breathing.
- Be flexible. One annoying thing kids do often is change. Something that might have been working flawlessly may all of a sudden cause a major issue. In fact, many children will grow out of eczema by the time they reach preschool or kindergarten. The trick is to keep an eye on how things are developing with your little and adjust accordingly.
- Let go of the mommy guilt. This one is tough. It is so easy to jump on the mommy guilt bus and go for a ride over the coals for any issue a child is experiencing. The thing is, it’s impossible to anticipate every conceivable scenario, not to mention maddening. I always try to remember that I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do. I love my daughter and do what I can to keep her happy and healthy. Case closed.
So, there you have it. My little list of hacks to get my baby’s eczema under control. As with any medical condition, it is always best to consult your child’s pediatrician prior to starting any treatment.