When a baby sees the light of day, its skin is covered with a white, wax-like coating known as cheese goo. This substance already performs essential protective functions in the womb, but also during and even after birth.
Experts recommend leaving the cheese goo on the newborn’s skin for as long as possible, but why is it actually so valuable?
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Cheese Goo – What Is It Actually?
At birth, your newborn is covered with a waxy, white layer called vernix. This substance is also known as fruit goo and is a fairly odorless substance that consists of about 80 percent water and 10 percent water-insoluble fats. Furthermore, the amount of vitamin E, which has an anti-inflammatory effect, is very high in this skin coating.
“Vernix caseosa” is the technical term for the cheese goo, a sebaceous gland secretion that forms on the skin of the unborn child from about the 17th week of pregnancy.
During the months of pregnancy, the cheesemilk is supposed to protect your baby’s delicate skin from drying out in the amniotic fluid and from bacterial infections. During the birth process, this skin layer fulfills the role of a natural lubricant, so to speak.
How Can You Recognize The Cheese Goo?
This whitish and sometimes also yellowish skin coating is mainly visible on the skin of your newborn baby. Basically, the cheese goo is odorless, but some mothers report that they could detect a slight caramel or vanilla scent when they held their little darling in their arms for the first time after birth: a unique smell that only a newborn baby exudes!
What Are The Essential Functions Of The Cheese Goo?
For a newborn, this substance fulfills extremely important tasks, and basically not only after birth, but already in your uterus. First and foremost, the cheese gland is a protective layer for your newborn baby.
The Function Of The Cheese Mucosa Before Birth
The cheese or amniotic membrane is formed in the second trimester. At this point, the embryo is in the amniotic fluid and is in permanent contact with the fluid.
Here, the cheese goo provides comprehensive protection so that the amniotic fluid cannot dry out and damage the baby’s delicate and so sensitive skin. This protective layer covers your baby’s skin like a greasy film and thus provides a highly effective protective barrier.
Furthermore, the whitish coating also protects the child from bacterial infections. For this reason, experts refer to it as the so-called external immune system, because the cheese goo already contributes significantly to maintaining the health of the child in the womb.
The Functions During The Birth Process And Afterwards
As soon as labor begins, the cheese goo helps to speed up the birth process. Here, this substance acts as a lubricant so that your baby can slide through the narrow birth canal more easily and you, as an expectant mother, do not have to strain yourself. At the same time, the cheese goo protects your little newborn from cooling down too quickly.
The presence and especially the density of this so-called vernix layer is an essentially important indication of the child’s maturity at the time of birth. The more mature the newborn is, the less vernix layer is present. So in premature infants, this skin covering is still quite dense and thick.
What Does The Density Of The Cheesy Layer Tell Us?
It is quite possible that your baby is born with only a very small amount of cheese gland. In that case, it is an indication that the “cream layer” in your body has already been used up.
It shows that your newborn baby has already matured enough to be able to protect itself from dehydration and hypothermia on its own. The baby’s skin now performs this protective function itself, so there is no need for an additional lubricating layer.
On the other hand, if a newborn is born prematurely, through a cesarean section, the cheese layer may still be relatively thick.
Experts Advise: Do Not Wash Off The Cheese Goo In The Newborn Baby
On the market, you can find different products that promise a very gentle skin cleansing and very mild care of sensitive infant skin. Considering the wide range of products, you are probably wondering which skincare is the right one for your newborn baby. Here you always have the opportunity to talk to your pediatrician, but also to midwives or pharmacists and get valuable advice.
The skin care of your baby begins immediately after birth: experts strongly advise not to wash off the vernix caseosa, i.e. the cheese paste, but to massage it into the baby’s skin.
This substance is a mixture of water, valuable water-insoluble fats and proteins that provide the baby’s delicate skin with effective protection against infection and dehydration. It also reduces heat loss from the skin.
For this reason, your newborn baby should only be dried very carefully with a towel. Water should only be used in the case of more severe contamination.
Why Is Skin Care So Important After Cheese Smearing?
As soon as the wax-like, whitish fruit goo is absorbed into the baby’s skin, the characteristic pink skin color appears. Now your newborn needs adequate care because its skin is thinner, more delicate, and much more sensitive than the skin of an adult.
In addition, it has a reduced proportion of moisture binders. Your baby’s sweat and sebaceous glands are also not yet fully developed and the protective barrier film between the skin cells is not yet particularly stable.
As a result, the baby’s delicate skin dries out much more quickly, increasing the risk that germs and pathogens can penetrate more easily. This shows how important proper skincare is for your newborn baby.
At the same time, the skin care after the cheese smear has another very positive side effect: the tender strokes and caresses are crucial for your newborn baby to be able to develop healthily.
While your child’s senses gradually become more and more sharpened and developed, the ability to perceive through the skin is present from the very first second. Stroking relaxes – the parents and especially your newborn baby.
If a newborn baby still has remnants of the cheese goo on its skin after several days, these may then be gently washed off with water.
What Should Be Considered When Caring For Delicate Baby Skin?
Many parents wonder what the right care for a baby’s delicate skin actually looks like: Experts say that mild synthetic washing lotions generally do not harm the baby’s skin, but the products should have a neutral or slightly acidic pH.
Soaps consisting of so-called fatty acid salts, on the other hand, should be avoided because they are highly alkaline and severely dry out sensitive young skin. Such washing lotions and soaps can irritate the newborn’s delicate skin and damage the skin barrier: Unpleasant itching and redness are often the results.
Bathing Your Newborn Baby: Tips And Tricks
As soon as the cheese smear is completely gone and the baby’s body temperature is stable, the first bath may take place according to expert opinion. If your newborn baby is able to regulate its own body temperature, it can avoid cooling down during bathing. The main focus of attention is the stability of the body’s functions.
If you want to bathe your baby, pay attention to the following recommendations.
- On average, babies should be bathed two to three times a week.
- The ideal room temperature should be between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius.
- The ideal water temperature should be between 37 and 37.5 degrees Celsius.
- Ideally, the bath should not last longer than five to ten minutes.
- Both the bath toys and the bath tub should be clean, but not disinfected.
You don’t need to worry about bathing drying out your baby’s skin, because bathing is generally gentler than washing with a washcloth. Bathing can also improve sleep, stimulate the baby’s sense of touch and, above all, strengthen the emotional bond between parents and their baby.
Cheese Smear And Lanugo Hair – What Is The Connection?
The baby’s lanugo hair is also called wool hair, derived from the Latin word “lana”, which translates as wool. This delicate fuzz of hair covers the entire body of the unborn fetus.
The lanugo hair develops between the 13th and 16th weeks of pregnancy and is a kind of protective covering for the baby in the amniotic fluid. Each individual hair follicle also includes a sebaceous gland that produces the wax-like white substance – the cheese goo.
Thus, the lanugo hair ensures that the vernix caseosa (cheese goo) adheres better and, at the same time, provides the unborn baby with comprehensive thermal insulation and valuable protection from sound, pressure, or other vibrations. Furthermore, the Lanugo hair prevents softening of the sensitive infant skin in the amniotic fluid.
Between the 30th week of gestation and the 32nd week of gestation, the baby’s lanugo hair begins to fall out, allowing the actual body hair to grow. It can occasionally happen that babies see the light of day with lanugo hair, but this hair fuzz disappears again on its own in the first few weeks of life.
Experts in pediatrics and medicine believe that the fallen hair is swallowed by the baby in utero and that the keratins it contains subsequently stimulate the functions of the baby’s intestines.
Swallowed cheese goo and lanugo hair is eventually excreted together with bile and intestinal cells within the first days of life, so called infantile saliva: The technical term for the puerperal sputum is meconium.
Just like the cheese goo, the lanugo hair is also a central criterion for the medical assessment of the infant’s degree of maturity: the less hair fluff there is at birth, the more mature the newborn is. A newborn that has seen the light of day a little too early usually has even more woolly hair, which primarily supports the thermal regulation of the little body.