Natural Baby Care
The skin is the largest organ of our body - a barrier between us and the "outside", and our first line of defense against pollution, chemicals, and the germs and dirt of everyday life. Our skin is also a delicate filtering system, allowing substances to enter our bodies and even our bloodstream (as an example, think of the many medications that are adminstered transdermally, or through the skin), and helps us eliminate toxins from our systems. Babies and children have delicate, sensitive skin, newly exposed to the harshness of everyday life, so it's especially important to consider what products we use on them. Babies and children also love to put their hands (and feet!) in their mouths, so remember that any moisturizers, powders or lotions may be ingested by your child. It's important to make sure that the lotions, soaps, creams and powders that we use on children are as natural and healthy as possible.
Many babies and children have dry skin, and most baby lotions, salves, and oils contain high percentages of mineral oil or other petroleum products. Unfortunately, mineral oil does not absorb well into the skin, and in fact clogs pores and makes it difficult our skin to eliminate toxins. Mineral oil is also a non-renewable resource; it is a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. Given these facts, it's preferable to use natural vegetable oils as the base ingredient in natural lotions, salves, and moisturizing oils.
Many baby products also contain colorants, fillers, and fragrances that unfortunately do little except irritate sensitive, delicate skin. Synthetic fragrances can also exacerbate baby eczema, acne, and diaper rash. Unscented, all-natural products are the safest things to use on our children.
One way to ensure the purity, freshness and quality of the products we use on our children is to make them ourselves. Making your own all-natural powders, salves, and bath products is a wonderful way to care for your children. The recipes given below are simple and use common, yet effective all-natural ingredients to create exquisite formulas that pamper and soothe your baby.
Moistuizing Milk Bath
Milk is a soothing, moisturizing, yet non-greasy bath additive that gently soothes and cleanses your child's skin. If your child is allergic to cow's milk, powdered goats milk makes a wonderful substitute in this recipe.
1 cup dried milk
1/2 cup cornstarch
2-3 drops lavender or chamomile essential oils (optional)
Combine all ingredients and stir. Chamomile and lavender essential oils are soothing, calming, and relaxing - a warm lavender aromatherapy bath does wonders for a fussy baby or toddler! (Please use essential oils only on babies 6 months or older). To use: sprinkle a small amount in a warm bath. This makes a wonderful gift, especially when presented in a pretty recycled shaker jar or bottle.
Baby's Bum Powder
This talc-free powder utilizes the power of nature's finest herbs and to gently soothe and heal irritated skin.
1 cup arrowroot powder
1 tbsp. dried ground chamomile
1 tbsp. dried ground lavender
Combine all ingredients well - an easy method is to place all ingredients in a plastic sandwich bag, seal it shut, and combine the ingredients by kneading the bag with your hands. Pour the powder into a recycled shaker jar or powder tin. Use as needed on the diaper area. Arrowroot powder can be found at health food stores - it gently helps soothe and dry damp areas, while the powdered lavender and chamomile are soothing, healing, and help prevent bacterial growth.
(Helpful hint: grind chamomile and lavender into a fine powder using a clean coffee grinder, food processor, or blender).
Better Baby Oil
Vegetable oils are far more nourishing, soothing, and moisturizing than mineral oils.
This makes an excellent after-bath or anytime moisturizer, and also works well to gently loosen and heal cradle cap or eczema. The benefits of infant massage are many and well-documented; this oil also makes a wonderfully soothing natural massage oil.
1 cup grapeseed, almond, sunflower or olive oil
2-3 capsules vitamin E
Cut open or pierce the vitamin E capsules, and squeeze the vitamin E oil into the base oil. Stir or shake the oils until they are combined. Place in a recycled squeeze bottle and use as needed in the bath, as a lotion, or massage oil. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and has many healing properties. It's an excellent moisturizer, wound healer, and is extremely soothing to dry, chapped, or irritated skin.
Herbal Baby Balm
The healing powers of the herbs in this salve are safe and gentle, yet powerfully effective.
The healing powers of the herbs are transferred to the oils, and then beeswax is added to make a creamy balm. Beeswax naturally helps seal moisture into the skin, while still allowing it to 'breathe".
2 cups oil (olive, sunflower, grapeseed or almond)
1/3 cup dried comfrey
1/3 cup dried chamomile
6 capsules vitamin E
2 ounces (approximately 2 tablespoons) beeswax
Combine the herbs and oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Place on the lowest possible heat - the oil should be warm, but not hot
enough to "fry" the herbs! Let the oils and herbs infuse for at
least three hours. Let the oil cool, then strain out and compost the herbs.
Gently re-warm the oil, and add the beeswax. Cut or pierce the vitamin E
capsules and squeeze the oil into the beeswax/oil mixture. Stir together
until the beeswax is completely melted, and then remove from heat. Pour
the salve into clean jars or tins.
This gentle salve can be used to help relieve diaper rash, to heal any cuts or scrapes, or act as a moisturizer or lotion for very dry skin.
Hopefully you will enjoy creating your own natural
baby products. There are many excellent natural baby products on the market,
also. Unscented, handmade soaps (especially castile or goat's milk soaps)
can often be found at your local farmer's markets or natural foods stores.
These are also excellent for the care of your baby. Please read labels and
look for all-natural products free from petroleum products, mineral oils,
synthetic colors, and synthetic fragrances. You and your child will both
be happier and healthier!