Our Baby Skin Microbiome Guide
The skin is our largest organ and plays a diverse role across body systems. As baby’s first line of contact with the outside world, the skin both connects baby to their sensory environment and protects them from external factors like bacteria, chemicals, ultraviolet rays, and temperature.
On the surface of baby’s skin lives a diverse community of microorganisms known as the skin microbiome. This rich ecosystem of organisms begins developing at birth and plays an intricate role in protecting baby’s body, communicating with their immune systems, and so much more.
While the science behind the skin microbiome is rapidly developing, we understand that disruptions and imbalance to the skin microbiome are factors that can contribute to skin complaints like diaper rash.
So what we can do to keep baby’s skin healthy and thriving?
Here’s what you need to know:
- Baby’s skin is thinner than an adults and gains thickness and resilience over the first few years of life.
- Thinner skin translates to more permeable skin, making baby’s skin more sensitive to external factors like harsh chemicals.
- Healthy skin is a reflection of a healthy skin microbiome - the community of organisms that live on the skin - and maintaining healthy skin means fostering balance for the skin microbiome.
- Maintaining a balanced skin microbiome is something you can be proactive about with good habits and smart routines.
- When possible, focus on first impressions: The ‘seeding’ of baby’s microbiome starts immediately at birth. Vaginal births are generally associated with exposure to a more diverse community of microbes than c-section births. ‘Vaginal seeding’ is a way to introduce newborns delivered via c-section to vaginal bacteria which are important for the early foundation of the microbiome.
- Practice skin-to-skin: Skin to skin is not only great for bonding, it’s also great for sharing your microbial ecosystem with baby. During breastfeeding, bottle feeding, playtime and beyond, contact with your skin introduces baby to new communities of microorganisms that support digestion, immune function, and much more.
- Avoid strong antibacterial cleaners and products in your home. Antibacterial products destroy both good and bad bacteria, leading to imbalances in the skim biome. Opt for naturally formulated home cleaning products like Our Cleaning System - gentle on skin, effective on surfaces.
- Look carefully at ingredients, and seek natural formulations: From cleaning products, to shampoos, to skincare, hazardous chemicals are lurking everywhere in even the most unassuming and seemingly natural products. Familiarize yourself with ingredients that are harsh on skin, body, and brain. Commonly found ingredients include: parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes and fragrances, SLS, and sadly many more.
- Try our microbiome friendly Cream and Balm Duo for gentle protection and long lasting hydration.
- There is such a thing as ‘too clean’: A balanced microbiome is in constant communication with the environment around it, and striving for skin that is too clean reduces the diversity and resilience of the skin microbiome. There’s even research that links exposure to more microorganisms reduces the incidence of allergies (Johns Hopkins) in children.
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Grice EA, Segre JA. The skin microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Apr;9(4):244-53. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2537. Erratum in: Nat Rev Microbiol. 2011 Aug;9(8):626. PMID: 21407241; PMCID: PMC3535073.
Skin Microbes and the Immune Response | National Institutes of . Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/skin-microbes-immune-response
Dhariwala MO, Scharschmidt TC. Baby's skin bacteria: first impressions are long-lasting. Trends Immunol. 2021 Dec;42(12):1088-1099. doi: 10.1016/j.it.2021.10.005. Epub 2021 Nov 4. PMID: 34743922; PMCID: PMC9206859.
Newborns Exposed to Dirt, Dander and Germs May Have Lower . Retrieved September 30, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/newborns_exposed_to_dirt_dander_and_germs_may_have_lower_allergy_and_asthma_risk