Natural and non-toxic baby care products are an easy way to protect your little one…
You want to give your baby the best possible start in life, it’s only natural. Having a baby is a life changing experience and as a parent you want to care for your child as best as you can. It is this precious time when people seek out natural products as they become aware of what they are providing their baby.
Baby skin is delicate and sensitive and has different needs compared to our own. When looking for skincare products for your little one, it is best to avoid the use of products containing harsh chemical ingredients that could irritate or compromise very delicate skin.
Salma Dawood, technical advisor at Viridian Nutrition, comments: “With so many infant products in today’s market, it can be daunting to decide on a suitable product for your baby. Due to the sensitive nature of babies’ skin, they are more vulnerable to possible irritation that can arise from contact with toxin-packed skincare products. Opting for natural and organic products can be a safer choice for your little ones, but it is always beneficial to double check the ingredients to ensure there are no hidden nasties added in.”
Ian Taylor, Green People’s cosmetic scientist, agrees: “Foaming agents used in cleansing products need to be extra mild, and fragrances should either be avoided completely or be from low levels of essential oils with proven safety records.
“Babies and children have thinner, more absorbent skin than adults and this means that their skin barrier is not very effective at filtering out chemical toxins. For this reason, it is wise to use natural and organic ingredients, at least until they have developed a protective skin barrier.”
To help support the skin’s natural barrier, parents need to keep baby’s skin moisturised. Dawood explains: “During the first few months of life, babies’ skin rapidly loses moisture. Trans-epidermal water loss can negatively impact the skin’s protective barrier, allowing for toxins and allergens to seep through and contribute to allergies and eczema. It is critical to always keep your baby’s skin hydrated with natural products to lock in moisture and protect the skin’s natural barrier.”
Harsh chemicals and nasty ingredients to avoid include sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and fluoride: “SLS is commonly used in baby baths to make them foam but, as babies skin has a delicate pH, using this drying, chemical ingredient may lead to irritation,” explains Taylor. “Though seemingly natural, olive oil may affect the natural barrier function of infant skin and has been linked to an increased risk of some forms of dermatitis in later years. Some people also choose to avoid fluoride in toothpastes. Although essential for proper tooth development and maintenance it can cause problems if consumed in excess.”
It’s also best to avoid any synthetic fragrances, colours and preservatives. “Many of today’s skincare products are often laden with preservatives, stabilizers, synthetic colours and fragrances. With the potential to contribute to detrimental health issues, it is best to avoid applying toxins to your baby’s skin,” comments Dawood. “Avoiding SLS, parabens, formaldehyde, colourants, talc and fragrances when purchasing infant skincare products is a good starting point. If you spot a lengthy list of ingredients with unpronounceable chemical names, that’s often a tell-tale sign to steer clear from the product.”
Ingredients to look out for include calendula, coconut, shea butter, chamomile and white mallow. Calendula is renowned for its natural anti-inflammatory action and for soothing damaged or inflamed skin, so it’s ideal for eczema and nappy rash. Coconut oil reduces inflammation and keeps skin soft and nourished, as does shea butter. Chamomile boats a natural anti-inflammatory action, whilst working to uniquely soothe inflamed and red-looking skin. White mallow has skin-smoothing, emollient, protective properties and is ideally suited for skin prone to irritation.
We know that there is a link between the gut, skin and immune system, so it’s important to support your baby’s tummy too. A balance of bacteria is just as important for babies as it is for us. The development of gut flora – which influences everything from our digestive health to our immunity – begins before we are born, and it needs to be supported in those early years.
“A balanced gut flora is necessary in an infant to assist in the digestion of milk, regular healthy bowel movements and a strong protective gut lining – where food absorption takes place,” explains nutritional therapist Natalie Lamb, technical advisor for Protexin, the manufacturers of Bio-Kult and Lepicol. “Any imbalance could lead to uncomfortable digestive symptoms such as constipation, loose stools, bloating, flatulence and cramping.
“Particularly in early life, the composition of the gut flora profoundly influences the development of the immune system and the gut mucosal lining. This is not surprising, as up to 70 percent of immune cells are located within the gut. The incidence of allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and hay fever are ever increasing in early life and are associated with an altered or less diverse gut microflora, an impaired gut lining and a malfunction of the immune system.”
Probiotics are live bacteria that have been shown to help keep the gut flora balanced, to support healthy digestive and immune function and keep the gut lining nice and healthy. Research suggests that they can reduce the risk of both eczema and colic too.
“In some studies, probiotic supplementation has been seen to rebalance the gut flora, improve immune function, reduce severity of symptoms and reduce the need for medication,” comments Lamb.
A study conducted in 2011 found that a multi-strain probiotic significantly reduced eczema symptoms in infants and young children aged three months to seven years, within just eight weeks.
Green People’s Nappy Cream – Newborns can go through a dozen nappies in a day and one essential all new parents will want to have stockpiled is a skin-soothing nappy cream. Free-from skin-drying chemical ingredients, Green People’s calming nappy cream is made with 100 percent natural ingredient, including beeswax, which naturally repels water to protect against dampness.
Bio-Kult’s Infantis – An advanced multi-strain probiotic formula, specifically designed for infants. Containing seven strains of live bacteria, it also includes omega-3 and vitamin D3.
Green People’s Baby Oil – Containing a nourishing blend of natural oils, this can be used for baby massage, to ease cradle cap and can even be used by mum to improve skin elasticity around stretch marks.