It’s hard to believe that a product could be designed for babies that could potentially hurt them. But the reality is that unfortunately, the vast majority of baby products on the markets aren’t as ‘baby-friendly’ as they seem. Harmful ingredients can be found in a range of different baby products. Everything from a babies soap, to their food and even their toys. There’s so much to think about when it comes to a new baby, and all you want to do as a parent is keep them as safe as possible. One of the ways you can do this is by making sure you are aren't using unnecessary and dangerous products.
Talcum Powder The sent that makes us think of babies. We’ve been lead to believe that to change a baby nappy you need talc, but are they really necessary? The answer is no, and it’s not safe either. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it a popular choice for keeping a babies skin dry and helping to prevent nappy rashes. Numerous studies have shown if a baby inhales talcum or baby powder (which is very easily done), that the particles can cause severe lung damage, breathing problems and even choking in babies. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. Even though talcum powders have been asbestos-free since the ’70s, researchers say there may still be a link between asbestos-free talc and cancer, and that further studies are required. It’s also not just the particles that could be dangerous, experts are still worried about the cancer risks associated with the long term use of talcum powder in the genital areas, especially for girls. Although many brands have now switched to ‘talc-free’ baby powder, the products still contain a whole host of other harmful and potentially irritating ingredients, including fragrances and parabens. There are also a few natural brands on the market that use arrowroot or cornstarch to make ‘natural’ talc alternatives, however, these can also cause problems from babies. Cornstarch, in particular, can actually worsen candida nappy rashes and should be avoided. If you are changing your babies nappy regularly, giving them a chance to ‘air out’ during changes, you shouldn’t really need to use baby powder. Vick’s Vapour Rub Vick’s Vapour rub is probably something you’ve reached for on several occasions to soothe either yours, or your child's symptoms of coughing or congestion, however, Vics may actually cause respiratory distress in children, and even skin rashes. Vick’s is petroleum-based which means that it is a byproduct of the petroleum manufacturing process. Yes, petroleum as in petrol. Not something we want to be rubbing on our little ones! Vick’s also contains eucalyptus, camphor and menthol, which despite being natural, are too strong to use directly on a child's skin. Camphor, in particular, has been shown to irritate a child’s skin, potentially causing itching or rashes. The ingredients in Vick’s can also act as internal irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway. As infants and young children have much narrower airways than adults, any increase in mucus or inflammation can narrow them more severely and have dangerous consequences. A great natural alternative to vapour rub is to use a humidifier or essential oil diffuser with a few small drops of tea tree oil. It’s best to avoid peppermint and eucalyptus oil in babies less than 6 months. Baby Oil Baby oil is almost 100% mineral oil. Mineral oil is a petroleum ingredient that is derived from crude oil and is used as a metal cutting fluid. Wondering why on earth manufactures would put this ingredient into their products? Because it's cheap and abundant, so manufacturers sell it to us and tell us it's good for our skin Mineral oil coats the skin like glad-wrap, blocking pores and prevents skin from being able to breathe and prevents the natural release of toxins from the skin. This can result in skin conditions like rashes and acne, but can also affect the natural functions of the skin. As the skin is the bodies largest organ of elimination, this poses serious health hazards, particularly for babies. Ditch the baby oil and instead choose natural and nourishing oils such as olive, coconut, or sweet almond to massage into your baby’s skin. Safer Alternatives? When it comes to knowing what the safest products are to use on a baby’s super sensitive skin, the is the answer is few and far between. A babies skin is much better off with minimal interventions. The fewer soaps, lotions, talcs, and creams that you apply to your little one’s skin, the healthier and happier it will be. If your baby does need a little extra support, make sure you are using the mildest, most gentle and natural products that are available. Go for 100% organic and make sure it is specifically indicated for babies. If you are unsure, always double-check. If your baby is repeatedly presenting with a certain condition it is also worth considering what the underlying cause of that condition might be. Is eczema due to an allergy or impaired immune system? Is the nappy rash due to sitting in the nappy for too long, or a reaction to the material of the nappy? If you are concerned about a certain condition or want advice on the safety of a product, check in with your health care practitioner.