The skin, hair, and nails make up your baby’s integumentary system, her largest organ system. It wraps around her body, holding it together and protecting the internal organs, fluids, and deep tissues.
The skin has three layers: the epidermis (outer), the dermis (middle), and the hypodermis, or subcutaneous fat. Since the epidermis is on the outside, it serves as a protector against environmental threats and infectious organisms.
The dermis is where the skin’s blood vessels, nerve endings, and sweat and oil glands reside. The nerve endings send messages about sensations to the nervous system, thus enabling your baby’s sense of touch. The dermis also supports thermoregulation—the process of insulating and maintaining body temperature—by opening her blood vessels and sweat glands when they are hot and contracting her blood vessels when they are cold. As her sweat glands push sweat to and through the epidermis, they also rid the body of toxins. Much like the sweat glands, the dermis’s oil glands (sebaceous glands) push oil to the skin’s surface to keep it both moist and waterproof.
Below the dermis, the hypodermis, or subcutaneous fat layer, is an energy reserve. When you burn calories, this is where they come from. This thick buffer also serves to regulate body temperature.
Your baby’s skin, hair, and nails rapidly renew and repair themselves every minute of every day. However, because the skin eliminates body waste, excesses, and imbalances, it can easily manifest rashes, eczema, and sores. To keep your baby’s skin healthy and supple, use natural skin products, as well as soaps and detergents that are free of harmful chemicals and artificial fragrances. Avoid exposing her skin to extremes of hot and cold or strong sunshine without protection. Natural fabrics are best for clothes and bedding that are next to your baby’s skin.