By Jodi De Corrado.
Any new mother will know that when you go into hospital to give birth, the hospital gives you a goodie bag with information pamphlets and baby products, such as: newborn disposable nappy, bath lotion, bottom salve etc.
These products are generously donated; a nice way to show new mums what their baby might need, and also to sample some these products.
The downside is these products are often not environmentally or skin friendly. They may be sold as “safe and gentle” for baby, yet that is often not the case. Often, they contain ingredients that are harsh on tender skin and some brands even test on animals.
Many new mums find their babies have adverse reactions to these products due to the synthetic chemical ingredients stripping way natural barriers, leaving babies’ skin dry and exposed; prone to dry flaky skin, eczema or dermatitis. Have you experienced this or know someone who has?
Here are my five tips to keep those harsh ingredients away from newborns:
The only thing worse than a red, weeping nappy rash causing your baby serious discomfort, is not being able to do anything about it! As a mother of three children I have tried so many different nappy rash creams and powders. Some worked, most didn’t.
That’s because many contained toxic ingredients (parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol to name just a few) that strip away the skin’s natural oils leaving it open and vulnerable. Sometimes, it’s the preservatives in the product that do the harm. The best way to avoid chemicals in baby bottom salves is to use a natural brand that contains oil, butters and waxes – and NO fragrance.
These natural ingredients put a barrier over babies’ skin to stop the acids burning tender skin. They also nourish and moisturise the area, as well as soothing soreness and redness.
Everyone knows newborn babies smell so good. This is their natural body oils protecting their skin as it’s designed. Bathing your little one in soaps and lotions can strip away that protective barrier. So, while they might smell all lavender-y and pretty, it takes away their natural smell.
There is no harm in washing your baby in water only. Water is a gentle way to cleanse babies’ skin and there really is little need to add anything else to the water. We have been conditioned to think we need to add something or else we’re not doing a good enough job, but that’s false.
If you’re concerned that even water might strip your bub of natural oils follow bathing with a natural massage oil (NOT petroleum based baby oil). This is also a really lovely way to bond with your baby too.
Hair and scalp care
As with bathing, there is little need to use shampoo on babies (and toddlers and even ourselves, a la No Shampoo Movement). Even the gentlest of shampoos can strip hair and scalp of natural protective oils, and contain iffy ingredients and preservatives (i.e. phenoxyethanol). Again, there is nothing wrong with using only water on your baby’s hair.
Now when it comes to cradle cap, opt for natural alternatives to petroleum-based products, i.e. olive or coconut oil. Removing cradle cap exposes the tender skin underneath, so you want to use a natural, gentle product that moisturises and soothes the area after the scales have been removed. This helps alleviate any dryness and discomfort your baby might be feeling.
I suggest applying a salve or oil to the area to soften the scales, leave for at least 10 mins before gently brushing the area. Or if you’ve gently brushed the scalp after bathing and scales came away, apply a soothing salve to moisturise and protect the area.
Alternatively, leave the cradle cap to disappear of its own accord.
Reuse, recycle, reclaim.
All too often expectant and new mums rush out to buy brand new clothes to decorate and show their cute tiny baby off. However, new clothing often contains toxic synthetic chemicals that leach into the baby’s skin making its way into the blood stream. This can cause rashes as well as expose babies to unnecessary chemicals. Fire retardants on fabric serve a function yet are also synthetic and can have adverse reactions. Synthetic dyes can also be problematic.
If you feel the need to purchase brand new clothing, always wash before using (for yourself and baby). This removes a good bit of the chemicals in clothing. It’s also important that clothing is made from natural fibres and for added peace of mind, ensure that the clothing is certified organic and Oeko-Tex certified as this means the garments have undergone rigorous checks and will contain very minimal harmful chemicals.
Otherwise, use hand-me-downs, visit op shops, borrow from friends and give your unwanted clothing away to those in need.
Granted it can be hard to find clothes in good condition because babies are notoriously ‘rough’ on their clothes: vomiting, pooping and crawling. Still, look around for good quality second-hand clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton and if you look after them and wash with care, you’ll be able to pass them onto another mum.
Consider mum’s impact
Since you are in close contact with your baby it’s important to consider what chemicals you are using and what you may be exposing or passing on to your baby. Perfume, deodorant containing aluminium, harsh soaps and shampoos containing SLS/SLES, moisturiser with unpronounceable chemicals, and what of your lipstick? These products linger on the skin and your baby can ingest them via breast feeding, through touch and even just breathing them in. Harsh chemicals can have adverse reactions on babies; asthma, breathing difficulties and allergies are all common results of toxic chemical exposure. Instead, go au naturale, or use safe, natural product alternatives.
It’s also good to question what you’re eating that may be passed to your baby. Preservatives, additives, chemicals sprayed on fruit, antibiotics in meat, hormones in dairy; it may be hard to cut out all forms of food chemicals, however, it’s a good idea to try and cut out as much as you can. That means avoiding processed food and cooking as much as often from scratch or purchase natural alternatives to packaged foods.
In an age where more and more toddlers are presenting with food allergies (and I don’t just mean nut allergies – though this is also a pressing issue) such as ADHD and ODD, it’s more important than ever before to reduce the amount of artificial substances we expose our babies and children to.
So eat healthy, eat fresh, eat organic, eat less meat and dairy, cook more, buy less process and prepackaged.
Jodi De Corrado is a mother of three, a qualified beautician and the founder of JOLI Natural Skin Care (2005) and is driven by a passion for reducing the amount of chemicals people are exposed to day to day.Jodi De Corrado is a mother of three, a qualified beautician and the founder of JOLI Natural Skin Care (2005) and is driven by a passion for reducing the amount of chemicals people are exposed to day to day.
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All images via Unsplash