Your precious little baby has soft, sensitive skin that you’ll want to protect from day one. You'll need to keep an eye on what you put on Baby's skin, including his new clothes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says in its online article, Cleaning Baby Clothes, “It’s generally a good idea to wash all clothes prior to using them.”

You may be thinking, "What's the big deal?" since the clothing has never been worn before. However, it may suprise to you know that new clothing coming to stores straight from manufacturers may have been exposed to harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde.

Moms Weigh In

Local mom Tara Sensing Gonzalez says she always washes newborn clothes before her baby wears them.

“Clothes keep their color because they are dipped in formaldehyde,” says Gonzalez. “It's the same stuff that preserves bodies. Also, there’s no telling how long things sit at the store, which means tons of dust mites could be all over the clothing,” she adds.

It’s true. Prior to shipping clothes from large warehouses, they are coated with formaldehyde to preserve a fresh look.

Local mom Sandy Yancy concurs.

“It’s really not an issue of germs or dirt, new clothes are treated with preservatives to prevent mold or mildew while in storage/transport,” Yancy says. “These chemicals can be irritating to adult skin but much more newborn skin that’s ultra sensitive," she adds.

The AAP says the only clothing you don’t need to wash are coats and jackets, and that's only because those items don’t have direct contact with the skin. Use that as your guideline.

Still, many parents feel no harm will come to their child if they put new clothes straight on their child’s body without washing them first.

“I have to say I’ve never made a point to wash new items that come in packages, but I can see why people do,” says local mom Samantha Downing. “Then again, I think we live in a society of germaphobes who are terrified there might be a germ on a piece of clothing, but then they’ll send their kids to day care so ‘they can build up their immune system.’”

Special Detergents

So to wash or not to wash … where do you start? Is it as simple as just tossing the newborn clothing in with the rest of the family’s items? The AAP says, “It is a common recommendation that baby clothes should be washed separately, using special ‘baby’ detergents that supposedly leave fewer residues and are therefore less likely to cause skin irritation. In reality, we’ve found that many if not most parents simply toss their baby’s clothes in with the rest of the family’s laundry without causing any problems.”

However, if you have family history of sensitive skin, you might want to stick to the milder baby detergent or the plain, hypoallergenic/fragrance-free just to be on the safe side.

“I always washed my babies’ clothing items in Dreft before I’d dress them in those clothes for the first time,” says local mom of four Susan Day. “I didn’t want to experiment with whether or not they had sensitive skin, I just wanted to protect their skin from the start. I liked doing that little thing,” she adds. “And they never had any skin allergy issues.”