Proper skincare for babies is most critical in the first few months of a baby’s life.
Baby skin is about 30% thinner than adult skin. Therefore babies, especially those with a defective skin barrier, are prone to skin sensitivities like eczema.
Babies with a defective skin barrier are especially sensitive because they are not able to effectively retain water in the skin, thereby allowing cracks to open and allergens and irritants to enter through the skin. The allergens and irritants enter the baby’s immune system, which is immature and still developing and are generally less capable of eliminating toxins. Eczema is linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to toxins.
In order to properly care for your baby’s skin, use as much natural products as possible. Many so-called baby products today contain soap and other detergents that deteriorate the skin barrier that is still developing.
Also, be careful of the body wash they give you at the hospital! Sometimes, they are not products recommended by doctors but just products given to the hospitals as samples! Nobody warned me about this. I really wish I knew this and packed my own baby products in my hospital bag.
Even the best and highly rated baby products contain some synthetic ingredient. In my opinion, the best option is to stick with natural, nourishing and edible ingredients such as shea butter, olive oil or coconut oil. When you using natural products with no preservatives (parabens) added, be sure to use it up within six months or so (depends on the product) because it can oxidize or be contaminated when exposed to air.
Here is a list of chemical ingredients you want to avoid in your baby care products:
Look for on label: fragrance, parfum
Yes, it may smell nice, but the medical journal Dermatitis pronounced fragrance as the allergen of the year. Of the more than 2500 fragrance ingredients (and it takes hundreds of chemicals to produce one fragrance), more than 100 are known allergens. All those chemicals can lead to contact allergies.
2. Mineral oil
Look for on label: mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffinum, parrafinum liquididum
Mineral oil is a cheap petroleum by-product used is many creams, moisturizers, hair products and oils. In baby products, you may find mineral oil in diaper creams, baby wipes, oils and lotions. Big cosmetic companies like to use mineral oils as a base for their products because of the cost and it is praised for it’s lubricating action. Unfortunately, mineral oil acts as a coating on your skin and thereby blocks your pores and the skin’s natural breathing process. A lot of the well-known brands make baby oil from nothing more than mineral oil with synthetic fragrance…not exactly what you want to put on your baby’s skin.
Look for on label: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben
Parabens prohibit the growth of microbes and are therefore widely used as preservatives in the food and cosmetics industry. Parabens can irritate your baby’s skin. However, the biggest concern is that they are known to disrupt hormone function. An effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Since a baby’s hormone system is not yet mature, parabens can cause irreparable damage to the developing endocrine system.
Look for on label: phenoxyethanol
A preservative often also used by products that claim to be “all-natural” as an alterative to parabens. Phenoxyethanol is not completely uncontroversial as it may have impact on the nervous system and has been even restricted in Japanese cosmetics. It is known to be an irritant to the skin and may cause vomiting and diarrhea if exposed at high enough concentrations. In 2008, the FDA published a warning for nursing mothers against Mommy’s Blisse Nipple cream that contained both phenoxyethanol and chlorpenisin (another preservative known to impact the central nervous system).
5. Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate
Look for on label: SLS, SLES, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium PEG lauryl sulfate,
This synthetic substance is used in shampoos and wash products for its detergent and foam-building abilities. Also often used in baby products. Although this makes products nice and foamy you can better avoid this ingredient. SLS / SLES can cause eye irritation, skin rash, hair loss, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, and allergic (reactions?). It is a known skin irritant that is easily absorbed through our biological shields
6. Polyethylene glycol
Look for on label: PEG- followed by a number. The lower the number, the more easily the compound is absorbed into the skin.
PEG is a class of ethylene glycol polymers that moisturizes, keeps products stable, and enhances the penetration of other ingredients, both good and bad. PEG’s can irritate the sensitive baby skin. In addition, they help traffic all sorts of chemicals they may be contaminated with across your epidermis.
For more information on chemicals in baby products: http://www.treehugger.com/health/7-chemicals-and-toxins-avoid-when-buying-baby-products.html
Recommended skincare products for babies with sensitive skin:
Recommended baby washes for babies: