How to Set Your Newborn Up For Lifelong Health (Part Four) – Safe Baby Products
You’ve done so much already to set your newborn on the path to a long and healthy life. You’ve prepared your body for a healthy delivery, learned the best options for feeding your baby, and created a cozy, safe, and toxin-free nursery for her. Keep up the good work by choosing baby products that are safe and non-toxic too!
Compared to us adults, your baby’s skin has a larger surface area relative to the rest of her body because of her small size. This means that chemicals applied to her skin have a much greater effect on her developing organs than they would for you. You’d think that the ingredients in baby products would be tested extensively before making their way onto shelves. The truth is, cosmetics in general are poorly regulated, and the majority of their ingredients are never tested.
There are always steps you can take to minimize your baby’s exposure to toxins and harsh chemicals while reducing your environmental impact as well. Here are some of my recommendations to keep your precious newborn away from toxic chemicals.
Soap and Shampoo
It’s recommended that you don’t wash your newborn for at least the first 12 hours after birth (in fact, waiting 24 hours is ideal). Babies are born with a protective substance on their skin called vernix, which keeps skin moisturized, prevents infection, and regulates body temperature. In the same way that your baby’s journey down the birth canal kickstarted her immune system, vernix has a big role in protecting your newborn after birth. Even though vernix looks gooey and chalky, resist wiping it off for at least 12 hours.
When you’re ready to start bathing your baby, always read labels for body products just as carefully as you would read the ingredients in your food. We often overlook the transdermal (aka “through the skin”) route when we think about protecting ourselves from toxins, but it’s one of the biggest ways that substances can enter the body, especially a newborn’s. Harmful chemicals such as parabens and phthalates can travel through the skin and and disrupt your baby’s developing endocrine system. To read more about chemicals in soaps and shampoos, see my article on beauty products. It’s always best to use organic and chemical-free body products on yourself and your baby.
Here are two of my favorites:
I love Babo Botanicals because their organic products are gentle enough for babies, but great for adults too! Best of all, they don’t contain the parabens, phthalates, and other chemicals that are present in conventional shampoos. Check out their entire line of products here.
Fragrances in body products are often made from synthetic chemicals. This fragrance-free shampoo is gentle on a baby’s delicate skin.
As I mentioned in Part Three, filter your water to prevent the toxins in water, such as heavy metals, chlorine, and TCEs, from coming in contact with your newborn and being absorbed through her skin. Using a water filter will keep these toxins away from you and your entire family.
Your baby is going to be wearing diapers around the clock for many months to come, and those diapers are going to be in close contact with her skin. Whether you choose to use disposable or cloth diapers, there are ways you can refine your choice to make it the safest one possible.
Rewashable, organic cloth diapers are certainly the more environmentally sound option–an estimated 18 billion diapers make their way into landfills each year–but you will definitely be doing more laundry! If you are up for that, it’s the preferred type of diaper. As a new mom, you may opt for something that is more convenient.
Disposable diapers have the benefits of convenience and super-absorbency. Even if you primarily use cloth diapers, you’ll probably need the convenience of disposable diapers once in a while. On the downside, some disposable diapers are bleached with chlorine and have added perfumes. Who wants unnecessary chemicals on their newborn’s fresh skin? If you are going to use disposable diapers I recommend choosing unbleached, non-toxic diapers like these.
The same goes for wipes: conventional wipes are often bleached and full of chemicals and perfumes you don’t want on your baby’s sensitive skin. A warm washcloth with a dab of Dr. Bronner’s baby soap will do the job just fine. These unscented wipes from Seventh Generation can be great in a pinch, or check out this excellent idea for homemade wipes you can make ahead of time and keep on hand.
When choosing a lotion or diaper cream for your newborn, look out for GMO oils, like cottonseed oil, that are common additives. The same goes for avoiding parabens and phthalates, just as you would with any other body product for yourself or your baby. Babo Botanicals makes a fantastic baby lotion and diaper cream that are sourced from all-organic plants.
I don’t recommend using talcum powder (aka baby powder) on your newborn. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked talcum powder use to an increased risk of lung disease. Some people use cornstarch as an alternative, but because corn is a common allergen I suggest arrowroot starch instead.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful! Your newborn and her new, sensitive skin will thank you for choosing safe and toxin-free products. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to toxins in beauty products to compare other products you’ve found.
Now tell me in the comments: what are some of your favorite baby products?
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