What skincare should I use on my baby?
There is so much choice when it comes to baby’s skincare products and a wealth of information available with regards to what you should use and what you should avoid. It is easy to become
overwhelmed so I hope that this blog will shed some light on the current research.
The Newborn Stage
The advice is to refrain from using any products on your baby for the first 4 weeks. This includes bath products, massage oils, moisturisers or soaps. This is because your baby’s skin at this stage is very delicate and using a product could harm your baby’s skin and lead to conditions such as eczema.
Also this a time for you to get to know your baby and for your baby to get to know you and that includes being able to recognise each other’s natural scent. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than the smell of your own newborn baby. So breathe in that lovely scent when you are giving your baby a cuddle.
From 4 weeks +
If you walk down the baby aisle in any supermarket or drugstore you will see so many products from bubble bath, shampoo, top to toe wash, barrier creams and oils. It can be confusing and overwhelming to decide on what you should use.
It is very important when you pick up a product, you have a look at the ingredient list. Some very popular products that have been available for many years do contain lots of chemicals that you would be very cautious about putting on your own skin, let alone the delicate skin of a baby.
What to avoid
Here I want to have a little look at some of the chemicals that are often found in well known baby products;
Formaldehyde – This is the big one and there has been an increased awareness of this chemical now and has been removed from most skincare products. It is often used in household products and can cause irritation to the skin and in large doses has been linked to cancer (carcinogenic). The use of formaldehyde or chemicals that help release the chemical in cosmetics and skincare is regulated by the EU however for those with sensitive skin (such as babies) even a small amount of the chemical can cause irritation.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphates – This is often found in bubble baths as it causes the foam to make the bath suds. This harsh chemical can really irritate delicate skin. It is used in a variety of products such as washing detergent, engine degreasers and household cleaning products.
Mineral Oil – This is a petroleum based oil which does occur naturally. It is often referred to as ‘baby oil’. People use this to ‘lock in’ moisture so it is favoured by parents. However it sits on the surface of the skin like a cling film and clogs pores. It doesn’t allow the skin to breathe or release toxins. Therefore it can irritate delicate skin and lead to conditions such as eczema.
Olive Oil- Although this is a natural product and it was recommended a few years ago by midwives and health visitors, research has found that the oil is high in oleic acid. High levels of oleic acid can damage the skin and this can lead to eczema and other skin conditions.
Parabens – These are often used in products to extend the shelf-life. Awareness of parabens is increasing and they are alleged to be a carcinogenic with links to the reproductive system. This information is based on small scale studies and we are still awaiting on science to confirm this but if you can use products which are paraben free then why not take the ‘better safe than sorry’ route?
What to use
Once your baby is able to use products then there are lots of products that claim to be ‘natural’. Again look at the ingredients and ensure that the above ingredients are missing. Also remember that it is best to avoid fragranced products.
We love to use coconut oil as it is rich in lauric acid and research has suggested that it helps destroy bacteria, fungi and viruses. Pure virgin coconut oil contains 50% lauric acid and one study found that the only other natural source that is so rich in lauric acid is human breastmilk. What an amazing find!!!!
Due to the fatty acids in coconut oil it is easily absorbed by the skin so it does not clog pores and penetrates deep within the skin layers to moisturise it. It is also low in oleic acid therefore it does not damage the delicate skin of a baby.
During our baby massage sessions for babies from 6 weeks old, we use organic, cold pressed sunflower oil. This oil is a completely natural product that is absorbed by the skin. It is not as high
in oleic acid as olive oil so it is favoured by massage instructors across the country.
There has been a study by Manchester University about using olive oil and sunflower oil on newborns and a potential link to eczema. For this reason we do not recommend the oil is used on newborn babies.
I wish you all many lovely massages with your babies whatever skincare you use!