Your skin may appear to be an impermeable barrier, but it’s actually a complex filtering system that blocks some substances and absorbs others. What you put on your skin can end up in your body, so you should choose personal care products with the same attention you give to choosing healthy foods. Better yet, make your own products by using ingredients that are safe enough to eat!
This is especially important for babies since their developing bodies are uniquely vulnerable, but also because their hands and feet often end up in their mouths. They literally eat the products you put on them.
Herbs, natural oils and some simple pantry staples can create effective and exquisite formulas that pamper and soothe your baby. Try these recipes for quick and easy better baby lotions and potions.
Moisturizing Milk Bath (from Prairieland Herbs)
Milk is a soothing, moisturizing bath additive that gently cleanses the skin. (If your child is allergic to cow’s milk, use goat’s milk as a substitute.)
- 1 cup dried milk
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2-3 drops lavender or chamomile essential oils (optional)
Combine ingredients and stir. Sprinkle a small amount in a warm bath. Chamomile and lavender essential oils are naturally calming, so this bath is perfect for a fussy baby or toddler!
Baby’s Bum Powder (from Prairieland Herbs)
- 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.
(Note: Even with safe ingredients, any small particles are dangerous for your baby to inhale. So always shake baby powder into your hand, away from your baby and then pat it on him. And keep the jar away from your baby’s reach.)
Better Baby Oil (from Prairieland Herbs)
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. 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.
Shampoo (from Frontier Co-op)
Whether your baby has a head of thick locks or just a bit of peach fuzz, you’ll want to use a pure, mild shampoo to cleanse her hair and scalp. To include herbs, simply add a tablespoon or two of an herbal tea infusion to a pure liquid castile soap.
Cradle Cap (from Frontier Co-op)
Cradle cap isn’t pretty, but it won’t hurt your baby. You can help coax the flakes away by rubbing a small amount of herbal baby oil onto your baby’s scalp. Leave the oil on your baby’s scalp for about 15 minutes, then gently comb out the loose flakes with a soft baby brush. Follow by washing well with an herbal baby shampoo.
Homemade Baby Wipes
- basic roll of paper towels (cut in half to make short rolls)
- 1/8-1/4 c. castile soap
- 1/8-1/4 c. vegetable oil (e.g. olive, almond, apricot, etc)
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 plastic container that the roll will fit in
Cut roll in half and remove center cardboard. In container, mix liquid ingredients, and place half of roll in container, cut side down. Place on lid, seal tightly and tip upside down. To use, pull out from center.
Natural Herbal Healing Wipes (from Pennie Mills, LMT)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups distilled water
- 1/4 cup Aloe Vera gel
- 1 TBS Calendula oil
- 2 tsp. castile soap
- 2-3 drops tea tree oil
- 2-3 drops lavender oil
Mix solution together and repeat the steps for the “basic” baby wipes. Calendula is moisturizing and is known to help heal rashes, burns, scrapes and other skin irritations. Aloe Vera gel is used for treating burns and rashes as well as moisturizing. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties and is also a wonderful antiseptic oil. The aroma of lavender can help relax and ease tensions. It also helps promote healing of the skin.
Oatmeal Baby Bath (from Pennie Mills, LMT)
- 1 cup of whole oats
Whirl oats in a blender or food processor until they are reduced to powder. Sprinkle powder into the bath and swirl. You will be amazed at the softness of the water and of your baby’s skin.
Bubble Bath (from The Green Parent)
- 1 cup baby shampoo or eco-friendly liquid soap
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. glycerin
- Essential oils (optional)
- Please use essential oils only on babies 6 months or older.
- A few studies on lavender and tea tree oils have found endocrine disrupting effects on boys. The effects disappeared as soon as the exposures stopped, there were no permanent effects, and not all people respond to the oils this way. It almost seems like an allergy. This issue is the same as the soy issue. They are natural endocrine disruptors. Boys can be more susceptible to the effects of lavender and girls can be more susceptible to soy.
- Simply because something is natural does not mean it is safe – natural materials are just usually safe for the general populace. With any product whether it is organic or homemade, always do a small skin patch test and watch for any reactions. Also watch your child for any more general reactions like sniffles or irritability after trying a new product. Everyone reacts differently.
- If you are not comfortable with using lavender oil on your son, you can also try lemongrass oil or thyme oil, both of which have proven antibacterial qualities. Also, feel free to skip the essential oils altogether.
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