This blog is an excerpt from another blog that I did all about Newborn & Baby Skincare. If you would like to read the entire article click here. This article will focus specifically on diapering and pampering your baby’s bottom.
I must admit that I did not make an investment in Newborn cloth diapers. I did receive 2 as a gift but obviously that isn’t enough for a full day. You should actually have enough for 2 days incase something comes up and you can’t get to the wash, that means 24 minimum. I did use the NB cloth diapers I had daily along with disposable ones. Ok so this isn’t a blog about cloth vs disposable diapers (I’m working on that one too…so many blogs so little time) but I do need to address possible diaper allergies since we are on the topic of skincare.
Disposable diapers are quite possibly the reason for your little ones red bum. No seriously, they are filled with materials that are not only possible allergens but also known to be toxic. Irritation caused by constant contact to these irritants or allergens is known as Contact dermatitis.
Common Allergens in Disposable Diapers that cause Contact dermatitis:
- Dioxins-the residue left over after using chlorine to make the diaper material white. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) Dioxins are highly carcinogenic and exposer can cause skin reactions, altered liver function and disrupts the immune, endocrine, nervous and reproductive functions.
- Sodium Polyacrylate-this super absorbent compound is a mixture of cellulose from trees and crystals from polyacrylate. You may have seen it before, it looks like little jelly crystals on the baby’s skin. It was removed from tampons because of toxicity concerns, only to be reintroduced in diapers. There are not long term studies but it is said to be linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems.
- Tributyl-tin (TBT)-according to research published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences, tributyl-tin can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells, causing obesity in humans.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)-These include chemicals such as ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and dipentene. According to the EPA, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs are even suspected of causing cancer in humans (EPA.gov).
- Other Yucky Stuff-Other skin irritating chemicals often used in disposable diapers include dyes, fragrances, plastics, latex and petrolatum’s. Adhesive chemicals are used in the sticky tabs to close the diapers and dyes are used to color and make the patterns and labels that mark diapers. Perfumes and fragrances are used in some disposable diapers to help mask odors.
There are a few ways to tell if the irritation is caused by Contact dermatitis.
- The rash can take up to 2 days to appear after contact with irritant
- Redness is accompanied by bumps, puss or blisters that cannot be resolved with diaper rash
- No matter how many times you change your little ones diaper or how dry he/she is, the irritation will not go away
- Irritation is not limited to areas that pee and poo are present, ie the area on the tummy where the waist band rubs
- Irritation is only present on contact areas and does not spread
This can most easily be remedied by changing the brand of diapers that you use. We have been using Babyganics brand diapers, they are free of chlorine, latex, petroleum and fragrances. I started with Honest and they work about the same but Babyganics is more pocket friendly. Of course the best, most earth-friendly option will be the cloth diapers. Cotton or Bamboo fabrics are best for babies sensitive skin.
Irritant Diaper Dermatitis better known as Diaper Rash
Irritant Diaper Dermatitis or Diaper Rash is caused when moisture is trapped between two skin surfaces. It is due to infrequently changed diapers, diarrhea, new foods and allergies. My lil guy goes through about 8-12 diapers a day. I simply change him as needed when he is awake and every time he wakes up from a nap. That being said, he still sometimes has a little red on his bottom after a poo.
Diaper rash usually clears up in 1-3 days when diaper is kept dry. Topical ointments can be applied to provide a barrier from the moisture and to help soothe the irritation. Most over the counter products will contain petroleum jelly. Harmless right? Wrong!! Although it has been used as a cure all for many years, it is a by-product of the oil industry and has been known to have carcinogenic effects. This simply stated means that it has the potential to cause cancer. Its purity cannot be guaranteed as the refining is not regulated. Petroleum jelly also clogs the pores not allowing skin to breathe, one of the skins most important functions. So my take on this is stay away from it. There are plenty of unharmful and renewable natural alternatives.
I like coconut oil because it is anti-bacterial & anti-fungal and use it on a regular basis just for general maintenance. It works great for minor irritations caused by wet diapers. When my LO has his poopie days (breastfed babies do not necessarily go #2 everyday) he gets a little irritated on his bum. On those days I use Baby Bee Bum Butter from Walnut Hollow Workshop. Love this stuff, it makes his bum go from red to taupe in no time flat. Even better all the ingredients are natural & beneficial. You can get it from the Fredericksburg Farmers Market.
Baby wipes are full of the nasties…there are some good brands that have natural ingredients with out all the toxic ones. I found an awesome blog from Safe Mama, that goes over all of the ‘Safer’ baby wipes. These are however very expensive. An alternative is to just make your own at home.
I don’t use anything special to wipe his bum only simple ingredients. I mix some castile soap and water on a baby wash cloth (I use different wash cloths for diapering and bathing). I wipe his bottom, let it air dry and toss the soiled wash cloth in a wet bag for washing within 48 hours. I like this option for two reasons, 1) It is earth and tree friendly and 2) It is inexpensive.
That being said, disposable wipes are so convenient, especially when you are out and about and they still save tons of money. Here is a recipe for Natural Homemade Baby Wipes from Wellness Mama that I just love. I actually recommend you bookmark her site, it is great. The most important thing to remember is that you need to always make small batches. Enough for 1 to 2 days only, after 48 hours water will start to grow bacteria even with essential oils.
THANK HEAVEN FOR LITTLE…BOYS! Just not their circumcisions…Ouch!!
No seriously! I’m glad I have 2 boys. Ok well except for the circumcision part…ouch! I’m not going to get into my opinion on this but since it is such a common practice and it is skin, I will get into the care. When my first son was born, he was circumcised in the hospital. I can only imagine being whisked away from your mothers arms and taken into a room with strangers that hold you down and cut off a piece of your skin. Only to be left with a raw, tender wound that is left to sit in a closed diaper, stinging every time you pee.
I’m not judging either way….one of my boys is circumcised, the other is not. If you do choose circumcision it does require special cleaning & care for the first 7-10 days. Since the wound will most surely come in contact with urine & poo, it is imperative that you clean the area well. Do not use soap. All you need is warm, NOT hot, WARM water. You should come home with a peri bottle.
If you did not, you can get one from your local drug store. Please don’t take the baby in a drug store, ever if you can avoid it. Obviously because sick people go there to get medications & prescriptions. Just put warm water into the peri bottle and squirt the area to remove any yucky bits. Please be careful not to get the umbilical cord wet. It is important that it dries, as noted earlier.
Let the area air dry, you can fan with a diaper too. Change the diaper constantly, sitting in urine is the worst thing for irritation. It is very important to apply a lubricant that will keep urine off of the irritation as well as keep it from sticking to the diaper, ouch! As noted previously I don’t use petroleum based products because of its carcinogenic nature. Besides it is not a renewable resource therefore not earth friendly. I don’t know about you but I would like my LO to have a planet to live on. Anyways, enough on my tree hugging tangent…yes…I hug trees and so will my LO.
There are a few natural remedies to help calm the irritation and help the wound heal faster. As I wrote earlier, Coconut Oil is like magic for irritation because of its calming & anti bacterial properties. You can simply dab some on a cotton make-up pad and apply to the tip at every change. This will keep the area moisturized and from sticking to the diaper. It will also keep the area germ free.
You can also melt some beeswax in a double boiler & add coconut oil for an extra barrier from moisture. I would use a mixture of 1 part beeswax to 6 parts coconut oil. You can adjust the formula but don’t make it too hard because you want it to smooth on easily with out much resistance on the skin. Make sure you melt the beeswax first as it has a much higher melting point than the Coconut Oil. Then add the Coconut Oil at the end.
Give it a good stir and pour into an airtight glass lid and it will keep for a year or two as long as you don’t introduce any water into it. This mixture is great for a diaper rash ointment as well.