The other day new parents to a beautiful baby boy asked me about skincare. They had heard that J&J did not have a good reputation and wanted to know what else was out there. So, I thought it might be useful to share...
To preface - the vast majority of baby products are laden with chemicals. (As are adult products.) Not only is it difficult to understand, but most of them you can't even pronounce. It takes patience and time to find natural products that work for you and your baby. Everyone is different and every product works differently. The only way to know is to test, unfortunately.
As with anything, check with your doctor if rashes or other skin conditions are not getting better.
My approach has been to limit, in general, how much I put on Caitlin's skin. Mother Nature knows best is my approach... I use products on a needs basis, which is sporadically. We all have natural oils in our bodies that we produce as necessary. When you need an oil for either baby massage or to condition dry skin try Almond Kernel Oil, Avocado Oil and even Olive Oil. Gaia have an organic oil which is produced from multiple oils.
If you need to use powder - buy the natural variety which generally contains cornstarch.
Side Note: If you are using standard powder on your baby - make sure that you don't use it around the genital area, especially for girls. Has been linked to ovarian cancer.
It was at bath time that I finally found something that would work on her skin rashes - chamomile tea. So, basically buy loose tea, put 3-4 heaped teaspoons into a cup and make it with boiling water as you normally would. Leave it there for 10-30mins. Then add the tea through a strainer into your baby's bath, i.e. you don't want bits of tea floating in there. This helps ease heat rashes and nappy rash for Caitlin. I always have it in the house now!
I love the smell of lavender in the bath - I have used J&J Bathtime in the bath. I love the smell and a tiny amount in the bath is enough. But unfortunately J&J is far from natural. I also used the Gaia sleeptime bath which was also good (and organic). The one flaw with Gaia is that it is not as aromatic as J&J Bathtime, but I wonder if a drop of lavender oil in the bath wouldn't do the trick?
I have also used the QV Bath Oil which came highly recommended by a number of people but I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes to her skin and it contains products that are not recommended - its ingredients are parabens and petrochemical based.
Nothing beats the Chamomile Tea for Caitlin.
One of my favourite products to use in the bath, which I have already shared on this blog before - the Konjac natural sponge. Love it.
I have been experimenting in the baby wipes area and am happy to report that I have found the most amazing wipes. Bambeco wipes are not only natural but also biodegradable. I order them in bulk online. I have tried a lot (although not WOTNOT as yet) and Bambeco it is. The reason why I like them is because:
- they are strong without being overly thick;
- they are gentle but effective cleaners;
- they are moist but not soggy;
- and the fact that they are bamboo, with natural ingredients is a major plus for me.
Nappies & Nappy Rash
I have a graveyard of nappy rash products - none of which have worked except for Amolin and the chamomile tea bath. Let me say though - they work at the very early stages of rash and on mild rash only. Once it has taken hold - which happened when the teeth were coming through - the only thing that helped was Hydrozole. A few days and it was all clear. Hydrozole is a cortisone based cream and should not be used on an ongoing basis. Before using something like this on your baby, check with your doctor.
If you are concerned about chemicals on your baby's skin look no further than the average disposable nappy. (And don't even get me started on mattresses and cotton). We have written about nappy options in the past - find it here. There are a lot of factors which need to be considered but generally, for many reasons, cloth is best.
Make sure to gently brush baby's head (or hair if they have any) from early on. It helps clear oils which can build up and cause cradle cap. So a bit of gentle brushing with a soft haired brush everyday. If cradle cap does develop, don't worry it's nothing serious, all you need to buy is a special brush & glove set which you use during bath time. It doesn't take long, and easy to do, and gets rid of it quite quickly. It may come back but just keep using the brush set.
For shampoo/body wash I have used Aveeno and Gaia. Much of a muchness in terms of result. Aveeno claim natural but the ingredients label on the back tells a different story. Gaia is organic and easily available.
Last but not least - sunscreen. The chemicals in sunscreen are a shocker - and have been linked to cancers and skin conditions. Solve one problem create another 10.... I bought WOTNOT natural sunscreen originally for Caitlin but we have all now started using it.
So there you have it - this is my list. There are of course other products. My list may not work for you, but I hope that it gives you a starting point. There are some great shops around now that stock organic and better for baby products, like Little Green Footprints & Nourished Life.
On a final note, I know it seems like a lot, so my suggestion is go step by step if it's all too much. If you want to make a major change to baby's exposure to chemicals then start with one or more of the products that spend the most time on or near the baby's skin - nappies, under clothing, mattress or skincare products.
And, if you want to be more careful with chemicals around the baby, look at the home cleaning chemicals as well - including the dish washing liquid. There are a great natural alternatives. Check out our older posts here.