For the past few months, my e-mail box has regularly received questions from blog readers, asking what kind of baby care/bath products we use in our home. So, for all of you inquiring minds, hopefully this will help!
We try to keep things pretty simple in our home. When you’re sleep deprived, juggling a toddler sneaking taste samples of hygiene products (or administering them to her dollies), and just trying to get that wiggly, wet baby clean and cuddled into a nightgown, an uncluttered selection of safe products is best! It’s also nice to pare down that grocery list, instead of regularly purchasing bottles of hygiene products for a baby.
I have attended many baby showers, where the new mom is overwhelmed by gifts of commercial baby products (even I have had trouble resisting that precious “Nighttime Lotion” scent!) Not only does she end up with more than one child can ever use, many of them are actually unnecessary (or even full of unhealthy chemicals- check the ingredients at EWG’s Skin Deep site!). On the other hand, so many of the “organic baby products” come with a huge price tag! Here is my list of suggestions/thoughts to give you a glimpse of what we have used/eliminated in our home.
Young babies don’t need shampoo (even if they do have hair). Newborn skin/hair has to go through that new “adjusting to a non-aquatic world” phase, and you will often notice some flaky skin, cradle cap, etc. Allow their little bodies to develop their natural skin oils (possibly assisting the process with a natural moisturizer), instead of scrubbing them all off with a regular dose of a soap product! The “tear-free” shampoos aren’t any better; they just contain a chemical that prevents the baby’s eyes from tearing up.
Bathe only when necessary with a tiny amount of natural baby wash. If your baby finds a bath relaxing, sometimes just a short time in some warm water (or with a couple drops of natural oil) is all they need. Don’t just automatically add baby wash, unless they really seem to need it! (A bit of baby wash can also be used for cleaning their head, if needed; a separate shampoo is not necessary.) We like to use a tiny amount of diluted Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap occasionally. Human bodies don’t necessarily need a bath every day; find a good schedule for your little one.
Use a natural moisturizing oil for bathing and massage. Use a neutral oil, such as Apricot Kernal Oil. You’ll want to go easy on introducing essential oils to a baby, but a relaxing scent such as lavender can be especially soothing to a bedtime routine (especially for those missing the chemical-based “baby-scented” products). Make up a small batch of Heavenly Baby Massage Oil (choosing a favorite scent) ahead of time. When desired, a few drops of this scented oil is delightful in baby’s bath, in place of the synthetic mineral “baby oil,” as well as for a bonding baby massage. Rose Water is also a nice-smelling natural addition to the bath. (Note: if you are highly concerned about nut allergies in your family, be especially careful in your choice of a moisturizing oil.) Administering this oil to baby’s head can also be helpful, in the process of trying to comb off some of that cradle cap.
Choose pure, natural moisturizers instead of a chemically-formulated lotion product. Our favorite choice was Shea Butter, which we have bought locally at Babyworks and from Azure Standard. Other options are coconut oil, cocoa butter, or just more of the neutral oil you used for the bath. (If you’re regularly doing a baby massage with oil anyway, you probably won’t need an extra moisturizer; these are good for “troubled areas” or for the higher moisturizing needs of darker ethnic skin types.) Many commercial lotion products contain ingredients that can actually deplete the skin’s natural moisture, just causing a vicious cycle. (Here is a quick overview on using a synthetic mineral baby oil, compared to coconut oil.)
If eczema is a big problem, I highly recommend beginning a search for possible food allergens. Eczema in babies can strongly indicate an allergic reaction to something in their diet. During her season of breastfeeding, Mama may need to eliminate possible allergens for her little one. A commercial “baby product” will not improve this condition. Try consulting with a natural healthcare provider to help you find solutions while working through this healing journey.
With healthy diapering practices, diaper creams are rarely needed(along with being aware of allergies, as in the note above). Since switching to cloth diapers, we have only needed to use a healing diaper cream on the occasion of a baby “tummy bug” that caused diarrhea. It’s not something we have used “preventatively,” like many of the diaper cream commercials would have you believe is necessary. Country Comfort makes a nice herbal product, and coconut oil can also work well. Lindsay has some good natural diaper rash solutions, too.
To prevent diaper rash, change baby’s diaper often (every hour worked well for us, but if your baby wets less frequently, adjust the schedule accordingly). Don’t wait until the diaper is soaking wet or stinking! Disposable diapers can be especially deceiving, since the chemicals inside that aid in absorption can cause the diaper to appear “dry” when it really should just be changed to a clean one. Allow your baby some “bare bum” time; you can lay them on a burp rag or towel, if you’re concerned about messes, but the fresh air “down there” is so beneficial! Make sure cloth diapers are washed well, to prevent irritating ammonia/detergent build-up.
Disposable baby wipes also contain chemicals. We prefer to use the frugal choice of homemade cloth wipes with the “Simple Easy Natural Solution” (just a couple drops of tea tree essential oil per wipe tub, with water). You can use cloth (such as flannel, terry, or baby washcloths), or make your own with paper towels (preferably unbleached!). You can also add a dash of your homemade baby massage oil, if desired.
Baby powder isn’t necessarily an essential. Baby powder can be “clogging” to those little skin folds, contributing to potential infections. Since our Nana can’t resist using it on the little ones, she chooses the natural Country Comfort Baby Powder product. A fleece diaper/liner can be especially helpful in preventing extra wetness, if that is a concern.
During especially hot summer days without air conditioning, we did find that a little powder dabbed under those cubby arms helped to prevent a sweaty rash in the little underarms. (Don’t pour it directly onto baby! Dash a little onto the palm of your own hand, and then apply it by hand. This prevents baby from breathing any of the powder.)
Dark, ethnic hair requires regular moisturizing. Many mamas of precious little “brown babies” (both boys and girls) have asked me what I use for Gen’s hair. When preparing for a transracial adoption, all the recommendations I came across suggested a commercial hair lotion. (Most of the mamas I’ve talked to are quite familiar with that pink bottle of lotion!) I was dismayed to find that it contained a large number of chemicals, and I actually developed a rash on my own hands from using it on her hair.
Instead of a synthetic, petrolatum-based product, we found coconut oil to be the perfect solution! We work it through those lovely curls once or twice a day, when her hair is still damp from the bath. If her hair needs to be washed, we just use the tiny amount of diluted castile soap that’s in her bath; but this type of hair rarely needs to be washed (maybe once a month in dry weather?).
If you are wanting to transition your toddler to regular hair-washing, you can continue to use the castile soap, or use homemade shampoo & rinse solutions. Pour on enough to run your fingers through their hair, which helps with the tangled hair issue; the vinegar rinse is especially effective. The commercial “no-tangles” products include chemicals to achieve this effect.
Sunscreen should not be applied to babies under six months old, if at all. You really don’t need to purchase those commercial “baby sunscreen” products! As Gen has gotten older, we have chosen not to regularly apply sunscreen to her, so that she can absorb enough Vitamin D from the sun. On extended periods in the sun, we have used a little bit of a Jason Sunbrella product, starting when she was about 1 1/2. Lindsay’s recent overview of sunscreen choices is worth reviewing.
I use Biokleen’s All-Purpose Cleaner for all my stain-removal needs. I purchase it in the concentrate form, and then dilute it well in a spray bottle. I don’t purchase a separate “baby stains” product. This works well on dirty cloth diapers, clothing, carpets, etc. Edited to add (in case you don’t want to scroll through the comments): Check out this link to assist you in choosing a laundry detergent that is right for your family.
Choose a natural solution to address the discomforts of a little one battling a common illness (colic, bumps/bruises, etc). Keep an Arnica Gel on hand for the inevitable bumps/bruises that come with those first toddling steps and exploration, instead of immediately administering a systemic dose of ibuprofen. Gripe Water, along with a tummy massage/”bicycling” their legs can help with tummy irritations/gas. A fever can often be a beneficial part of the immune system tackling an infection naturally. Don’t rush for the fever reducer; just watch it closely (but don’t let it get too high; address it according to your doctor’s recommendations). Try some Natural Cold Remedies from the Kitchen, based on the child’s age, and Coconut Water or breastmilk instead of Pedialyte.
So, what are your favorites? I know many families have found some other wonderful solutions. I’d love to hear! I just love that real, natural baby smell, and nourishing a little one’s life!
3 comments to Favorite Natural Baby Care Solutions
I am very thankful to have "stumbled" across your blog. It's a tremendous relief to have found this wealth of information and tips now… before I'm pregnant! I have a hunch I'll be visiting your blog in quest of ideas and resources for a long time to come…
You are a pioneer; you have blazed a trail and many are seeking wisdom from your experience! And it's wonderful to see that there really are others who think like we do! Kudos and continued blessings!
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