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April 23, 2014  |  Login
Bathing Baby: Body and Skin Care
By Dr. Alan Greene
 

The ideal bathroom for some people is a re­treat, a quiet spa designed for long relaxing soaks surrounded by favorite scented candles. But when you have a baby, that concept goes right out the window. The bathroom becomes a place of joyous laughter and splashing, and perhaps, home to a fleet of rubber duckies. This is one room where small green changes can make a big difference. You can save more water here, for example, than in any other room in your home. And you’ll be making lots of decisions about products related to your baby’s health, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.

Natural Bath Products

The first and best way to protect the environment and your own child is to ignore the worry and hype about needing so many baby cleansing products, at least throughout your child’s first year.

With skin that is highly permeable and sensitive, most babies

  • Do not need a daily bath. A gentle sponge bath to clean the genitals and buttocks is all that’s needed.
  • Do not need to be washed often with soaps of any kind. Warm water is usually just fine for such delicate skin.
  • Do not require constant slathering with diaper creams and lotions. Frequent diaper changes and a daily dose of fresh air is often the best preventive.
  • Do not need antibacterial soap and wipes. The excessive use of antibacterial chemicals inhibits the development of our natural resistance and can contribute to creating resistant bacteria!
  • Do not need to be doused in baby powder. Talc, in fact, is a known problem for baby lungs.
When you feel you must use cleansing products on your baby, be sure to think before you buy. Try to find products without artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, toxic preservatives, or cancer-causing chemicals and irritants. 

Sunscreen and Skin

I’ve slathered sunscreen on my body for most of my life, without ever thinking twice about what was in it. I wasn’t aware that what I put on my skin would be absorbed into my body and would be carried in the blood that bathed my cells. If I had known that the chemicals used in many sunscreens are estrogen-like, it wouldn’t have concerned me, because I thought the skin was a more-or-less impenetrable barrier. Not so.

When researchers looked at adult volunteers using sunscreen, they found the estrogenic active ingredients from the sunscreen in their blood. And in their urine. Thankfully, it didn’t appear to affect their overall es­trogen or testosterone levels.1 But what effect could it have on a prepubescent child, awaiting a single drop of sex hormones to start puberty? We just don’t know. And what effect could it have in a young baby? Again, we don’t know.

We do know that babies have about three times the relative surface area of an adult. If a baby were covered in sunscreen, and the skin were equally absorbent, you would expect three times the concentration of chemicals in the blood. But babies’ skin is far more absorptive than adults throughout the first year.  ....read more
 
 

 

 
 
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