At birth, the top layer of your baby's skin is very thin and easily damaged. Over the first month, or longer for premature babies, your baby's skin matures and develops its own natural protective barrier.
Vernix, the white sticky substance that covers your baby's skin while in the womb, should always be left on the skin. It's a natural moisturiser that also protects against infection in the first few days.
It's best to bath your baby with plain water only for at least the first month. Do not add cleansers to your baby's bath water or use skin lotions or medicated wipes.
Premature babies' skin is even more delicate. Staff in the neonatal unit will advise you on skincare.
If your baby is overdue, their skin may be dry and cracked. This is because all the protective vernix has been absorbed before they were born.