There are some things we all assume we’re supposed to do, considering when, where, and how we grew up. A lot of the time, it startles us to learn that there are other ways of thinking and doing those things that have just always been done a certain way. There is no exception when it comes to bringing a new life into the world and caring for the baby–especially when it comes to things like diapers, lotions, and balms.
The NIH reports that:
The skin of the newborn is reported to be 40–60% thinner than adult skin, affecting all skin layers. Precise measurements of skin layer thicknesses are elusive, but in a recent study by Stamatas and coworkers , the infant epidermis (3–24 months old) and the SC were reported to be 20% and 30% thinner, respectively, than found in adults. A thin SC in combination with an up to five times larger body-surface-to-weight ratio of the newborn increases the risk for skin damage, percutaneous infection and percutaneous toxicity from topically applied agents.
Thinner skin lends itself to quicker absorption, meaning that you need to be careful with what you put next to Baby’s skin.
This is especially true when it comes to dyes, fragrances, and VOCs.
When you see “fragrance” written on packaging, that’s actually a by-word for “any combination of hundreds of ingredients.” The FDA website has this to say about fragrances:
Even some products labeled “unscented” may contain fragrance ingredients. This is because the manufacturer may add just enough fragrance to mask the unpleasant smell of other ingredients, without giving the product a noticeable scent. . . . But under U.S. regulations, fragrance and flavor ingredients can be listed simply as “Fragrance” or “Flavor.”
Here’s why: FDA requires the list of ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling ActExternal Link Disclaimer (FPLA). This law is not allowed to be used to force a company to tell “trade secrets.” Fragrance and flavor formulas are complex mixtures of many different natural and synthetic chemical ingredients, and they are the kinds of cosmetic components that are most likely to be “trade secrets.”
Diapers sit next to a baby’s skin 24/7 for a few years. Unfortunately, diapers are often full of far more toxins than one would think. Ingredients like phthalates, dioxins, and chlorine are in most diapers.
Introducing toxins and artificial ingredients to a baby’s system so consistently from the beginning can have a harmful effect on their immune response. It demands their body immediately kick into overdrive to attack the foreign invaders and quickly fatigues their immune system. When the immune system tires, a few things might happen. It can become too tired to differentiate between toxic substances and body tissues that are harboring the toxic substances. This sets the stage for the toxins to impact the body in multiple ways. First as the toxin, secondly by impacting an autoimmune response.
How to Spot Non-Toxic Diapers
If you’re going to use disposable diapers, look for diapers free of the toxins mentioned above, dyes, and fragrances. Look at reviews to make sure they keep in all they need to, and don’t leak easily. Non-toxicity is all well and good, but you don’t want the baby consistently having blow-outs and their urine and poop are seeping into their clothes and sitting against their skin for long periods of time, either. Make sure you’re getting diapers that are doing what they’re supposed to, as well as being non-toxic.
If you’re looking at reusable diapers, there are also certain things you want to look out for. Make sure there aren’t any dyes touching the baby’s skin, that the diapers are made from organic cotton or other natural substances. Don’t wash the diapers with fabric softeners or in detergents made with fragrances, toxins, or VOCs.
Creams and Balms
When your little one has a rash, typically the first response is to reach for the diaper cream or butt balm. But, when you have a rash or dry skin, the barrier between the outside world and your body’s inner workings has been compromised and is even thinner. If you’re smearing creams onto that rash, there is even less keeping those toxins and fragrance ingredients from getting into the blood stream.
Introducing a foreign substance like that into the blood stream triggers the immune response, which then leads to allergies to the substance. Whenever the body encounters it, again, it will attack it as a foreign invader.
Who doesn’t love a clean baby smell? Unfortunately, a lot of the time, the answer to that question is, “your baby’s skin and scalp.”
Did you know that, as an adult, you don’t have to use shampoo? Especially not every day. Shampoo strips the natural oils your hair needs, leaving it brittle and dry. A lot of people have found success with using no shampoo, eggs, or apple cider vinegar as a substitute.
Babies’ skin doesn’t produce the oils that make hair overly oily and in need of shampoo, so there’s no need to strip the extras. You can just rinse baby’s hair with water, a lot of the time. If they get dirty, you can use toxin-free products.
Beyond that, baby shampoos have toxins in them that you don’t want that close to your baby’s head. Many of these toxins are the same ones that are in the diapers–phthalates and fragrances among them. You’ll also want to look out for parabens, Triclosan, Quaternium 15, Potassium Sorbate, Benzoic Acid, and Dimethicone in baby shampoos.
Another source of the “clean baby” smell is often lotions or creams. These lotions are also very often hiding places for toxins–be sure to check for the above mentioned in these, as well.
Washing your hair and skin regularly strips good, natural oils that are needed from the skin. These oils are what keeps our skin soft and moisturized. If we wash those oils off, we need to remoisturize the skin to replace the exact thing we just took away. The way we normally remoisturize is with synthetic and artificial oils and lotions.
Your baby’s skin doesn’t produce an excess of oil that needs to be washed off, so if you stop washing the baby as often, there won’t be the need for lotions that are only introducing more toxins into your baby’s system.
If you have a need to use a lotion, try coconut or olive oil as a healthy alternative. Just be careful for open wounds or anything that would bring the oil past the skin barrier to avoid future allergies.
For additional help finding good, nontoxic shampoos, creams, and lotions, check out EWG’s Skin Deep. To learn more about what toxins to stay away from, and how to raise your baby The Wellness Way, contact a clinic, today, and check out The Wellness Way’s New Mom Monday playlist on YouTube.