Your newborn - the essentials
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Natural Skin Care for Baby

It's important to look after your baby's new skin – so what's safe and what should you avoid?

Posted: 26 October 2009
by Debra Stottor

When you are bathing a new baby it is not essential to wash him or her with anything more than water. However, sometimes baby sick and poo do get a little yucky and you need to get your hands on something that will get that gorgeous new skin clean.
Additionally, babies can get dry skin patches (especially once the central heating goes on in the cooler months), so what should you use, and what ingredients should you steer clear of?

Head for the supermarket and you’ll find shelf after shelf of baby shampoos, baby bath, baby lotion, baby wipes, baby oil, baby soap…
Mesmerised by the sheer volume of brands available, it’s all too easy just to reach for the best-known names. But before you do, ask yourself two simple questions:

Do I really need this? (If the answer’s yes, then you may want to think about using less of it.)
Do I know what’s in this? The only way to answer the latter is to read the label, which is probably full of mind-bogglingly long chemical names that are pretty meaningless to you.

But as we learn more and more about the effects these chemicals can have, in the short and the long term, it pays to know which ones are potentially harmful and are therefore best avoided.

Toiletries: ingredients to avoid
DEA, TEA and MEA (Di-, tri- and mono-ethanolamine) Often in scented products, these may form nitrosamines (carcinogens)

Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl) Used as preservative, these are suspected hormone disruptors

Petroleum-based products (often listed as petrolatum) A by-product of the oil industry that has been used for generations in cosmetics, but it is a possible carcinogen. Look for a non-petroleum-based barrier cream for your baby

Phthalates Found in synthetic fragrances, these have been linked to reproductive damage. They are now banned from use in teething toys for children under three

Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

Propylene gycol (PG) Can alter the structure of the skin, allowing other chemicals to penetrate; linked with eczema and dermatitis

Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) Used to help bubble baths, well, bubble, but has been associated with eczema and cancer

Synthetic fragrance (parfum) Talc A naturally occurring mineral, links to cancer relate mainly to workers involved in mining the powder (it is closely related to asbestos). There are lots of talc-free powders available these days

One last thing…
If you’re buying organic, try to get something that’s certified, eg Soil Association.
Unlike with foods, there’s no legal definition of a ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product and it’s all too easy to buy something with lots of synthetic ingredients and just a couple of natural ones.

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