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11.20.2010

Natural Baby Products that Won't Break the Bank

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I was shopping for baby products before Izzy was born, I was clueless. And overwhelmed. There are so many to choose from, and how is a new parent supposed to know 1) what they need, and 2) what brand to buy?

But as I say so often, babies don't need that much (BTW, I swore I'd already written a post on what you need before you have a baby... apparently not). Babies really only need a mild wash, an oil/moisturizer, and a diaper rash remedy for when you need it. And when they get older and have hair a de-tangler. That's all. I PROMISE! But even buying two or three natural products can get pricey, especially when you have to buy them every few months. So here's the skinny on how to be totally natural and frugal with your kid's products.

Wash- put some baking soda in the bath water. That's it. Just use a soft cloth to wash them with the bath water, and scrub or rinse their hair the same way. Babies don't exactly get filthy anyway, and baking soda water is completely gentle, soothing, and non-drying. You may not even need to oil, but if you do...

Oil/moisture- olive, grapeseed, apricot kernel, or coconut oil (or whatever cold pressed food grade oil you like, other than canola or corn). When my kids were babies I used grapeseed, but right now I prefer coconut. Grapeseed worked really well, but if you got it on their clothes and it went through the wash it would smell like a fryer. Coconut oil is solid, so it's easier to control (ie no drips or smears on the clothes) and I haven't had that problem with it. Plus it smells awesome (if you buy virgin)- the other oils don't smell. Coconut oil also has a much longer shelf life than the other oils, which will go rancid and start to smell. Coconut oil is also mildly antibiotic. Commercial oils are usually mineral oil, which doesn't even absorb into the skin. Yes, a tub of coconut oil isn't super cheap (usually around $8), but it lasts a REALLY long time. I've had the same tub since last winter and it's still 2/3 full.

Butt cream- if you want to prevent, the key is to keep moisture and harmful organisms away from baby's booty- enter crisco. While crisco is terrible stuff that should never be ingested by a human, it's good for the skin (seriously- great hand and anti-aging cream!). The oil will create a barrier to protect the skin. TO TREAT- air is the best cure, so let baby go naked as much as you can (it's easiest when they can't move- just lay them on a towel... a little harder when they're mobil. My doctor suggested putting a towel down in the crib and waiting until baby fell asleep for nap, then taking the diaper off.) Other treatments- coconut oil, bag balm (it's for milk cows, you can find it often with the hand creams in regular stores, but if not you can find it at farm supply stores), and zinc cream. But if you're getting frequent diaper rashes it's time to start looking at the cause. Probiotics or yogurt are helpful, as is cutting sugar and dairy. It's also possible that your baby is allergic to his diapers. A particular natural brand of diaper (which I love despite, so I won't name them) gave my daughter big blisters on her butt, as did Bum Genius cloth diapers. Wipes are also a common culprit- if you can't find a brand of wipes that work, buy or make (easy- squares of flannel) some cloth wipes and use a simple mixture of water, coconut oil, and your baby wash. Certain foods also cause problems- Oliver gets a diaper rash whenever he eats sulfered dried fruit, black grapes (but not red or green), and bananas. Often it's either high acid or high sugar foods that cause problems, but dairy is also a common culprit.

Detangle/condition- Apple cider vinegar. Mix 1 T. with 1 cup of water and rinse through hair after washing. Don't rinse. If your kids are blonde you could sub 1 T. of lemon juice, but I've never seen a difference (I use ACV on my blondies). The result- light, soft, shiney hair that's easy to comb! Of course, if your child has course or naturally curly hair you will likely need more than just ACV... I would suggest giving coconut oil a try, but I am by no means an expert. Everyone in my fam has thin straight hair.

Can anyone think of another baby care product you would need? Cause I can't.

Oh, and a word on fragrance. You may miss the fragrance, but I can assure you your baby doesn't. And I always prefered my baby's own natural smell as opposed to an artificial one. Both babies and mothers respond physically and emotionally to each others natural smell. It's best not to cover it up. Plus, the fragrance found in most baby care products is from toxic phthalates. Once baby is older you can start mixing some essential oils into your products to make your own custom fragrance. Just remember that even some EO's are irritating to babies, and Tea Tree Oil has been shown to cause hormonal problems in boys (when used in lotions- I maintain that when not paired with the absorption aids found in lotions it's fine and use it in my wipes).

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