I am amazed at the number of baby care products available on the commercial market that contain petroleum by-products, artificial dyes and chemical scents. Babies have extremely delicate skin, so the substances we use on them should be very gentle and free of toxins. They should also be very nourishing and protective to the skin, to prevent drying and chapping. Although under certain circumstances a more cleansing antimicrobial action may be needed, in general baby care products should be free of harsh chemicals and detergents, as well as strong scents. A good general rule is that if a formula is too harsh for the sensitive skin around your eyes, it is not suitable for a baby’s skin. The oils, herbs and other ingredients used to make baby care products should therefore occupy the gentle end of the skin care spectrum. The most commonly used herbs in natural baby care products, and the ones I rely upon most in the formulas offered in this chapter, are chamomile, lavender, St. Johnswort, calendula, violet, fennel, comfrey and plantain.
The formulas presented in this chapter will help you meet your baby’s basic skin care needs. There are emollient baths and after-bath oils and creams to help soothe and protect your baby’s skin. There are also some suggestions for gentle herbal baths to help soothe a cranky or colicky baby, and to lull your little one to sleep. You will also find a sampling of healing salves and gentle powders to help prevent and treat diaper rash.
Please note that while the products presented here are specially formulated for baby’s tender skin, these and all skin care products should be kept out of baby’s reach and used according to directions. If your baby has especially delicate skin or is prone to allergies, test a little bit of a given formula, diluted according to any instructions, on a small patch of arm or leg skin before applying it all over. Also, it is a good idea to introduce new products one at a time so that if your baby does develop a reaction, you will be better able to isolate what may have caused it.