Practically a childhood rite of passage, diaper rash affects about half of all babies, often showing up when they begin crawling at 8 to 10 months, says Amy Paller, M.D., head of the dermatology division at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. "They're not upright and spend a lot of time sitting, so their skin has extended contact with dirty diapers."
A change in dietary habits is also to blame. Babies who start out on formula, or switch to it from breast milk, tend to get diaper rash more often than babies who are breastfed. "The introduction of solid foods can also alter the acidity level in stool, causing irritation," says Dr. Paller.
As a child grows, his stool frequency will decrease and he'll be standing more, which should lessen outbreaks. In the meantime, to help prevent a rash, change diapers often and use a barrier ointment, such as zinc oxide. If your tot develops a red, raised skin irritation:
Try Different Diapers
With some children, cloth works best; on others, disposable diapers -- especially super-absorbent brands or ones made without a plastic outer layer -- help keep rashes at bay, since less moisture gets trapped near the baby's skin or in the diaper.
Experiment with Mild Cleansers
While a wet cotton cloth is enough to keep your baby clean, water can be drying when he has diaper rash. Dr. Paller suggests using a soapless gel cleanser on super sensitive skin.
Draw a Bath
For some, water can soothe or even help heal a rash. Let the baby sit while you hold him in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Give Those Buns Some Air
Let your child go diaperless for 10 minutes a day. Fresh air and sunlight (filtered through a closed window) can help the skin heal.