This is what to look for when choosing the best nappy cream for your precious little bundle
After having been in a warm, liquid environment for 9 months, newborns’ skin often takes while to adjust to the dry air, changing temperatures, different clothing and bedding materials, and being touched. Sometimes all these elements combine to cause rashes and skin problems. Nappy rash is particularly common, because the moist environment provides the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive. This can be best avoided and treated using a natural nappy cream.
First of all, it’s worth understanding why nappy rash occurs in the first place. It’s the dampness and irritation from wet and dirty nappies which are the most common causes. So the best way to prevent it is to change your baby’s nappy regularly. But even the most vigilant parents find themselves dealing with nappy rash. By all means, change your baby’s nappy as often as it is necessary, and also give her regular ‘nappy-free’ time. This is quite easy to do with a newborn, because they don’t move about very much! Lay down some towels on the floor, and let the baby have some time without her nappy on—the towels will catch any accidents, and you might find your baby really enjoys the “free” feeling. If she’s cold or seems distressed at being naked, you can cover her gently with a muslin wrap, which will still allow the air to get to her bare bottom.
The next thing to do is to use a nappy cream after every nappy change, and after every bath. The best option is one which is free from synthetic nasties1. So what exactly are you looking out for? There are so many different brands out there, which can make it a bit overwhelming. I’d suggest checking out the list of ingredients, and try to avoid the following:
- phthalates (as fragrance and perfumes)
- PEGs (a range of compounds called ‘polyethylene glycols’)
- propylane glycol
- petrochemicals (Vaseline, for example)
- SLS/SLES (also listed as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, or Sodium Laureth Sulphate)
- BHA (also listed as Beta Hydroxy Acid or salicylic acid)
- boric acid
Many of these can be problematic for a newborn’s sensitive skin. Studies have shown that SLS and SLES are skin irritants, especially if your baby has skin condition like eczema2,3,4.
Parabens and phthalates can cause irritation, and may affect the hormone balance in your baby’s body (and yours, as you’ll be putting the cream on your hands to apply it to their bottom). While there’s no research which points directly to long term problems, doctors argue that it’s better to avoid them where possible1.
PEGs and propylane glycol are both potential allergens. What’s more worrying is that PEG is often contaminated with carcinogenic (cancer-causing) toxins, and some PEG compounds are not recommended to apply to damaged skin—which exactly the sort of skin affected by nappy rash5!
With fewer synthetic ingredients in natural creams, there is less chance that they’ll irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. They use ingredients which help soothe your baby’s sore bottom and heal nappy rash, and because so much can be absorbed through the skin, it’s important to use a product which you can trust as being both effective and safe. Look out for a product with one or more of the following ingredients:
- honey (antibacterial and antimicrobial- helps to heal the rash)6
- beeswax (natural barrier to stop dirty or wet nappies from irritating the skin)
and soothing or calming moisturisers and oils such as7:
- sweet almond oil
- jojoba oil
- olive oil
- cocoa butter
You can imagine the relief your baby will feel when you apply sweet smelling ingredients like honey, cocoa butter, lavender and calendula, to help soothe her sore, sensitive skin. At a time when your baby is feeling uncomfortable and upset, it’s also a relief for you to be able to care for her, by choosing natural products over those made from petrochemicals. And as well as nurturing and healing your baby, your peace of mind is assured when you use natural nappy creams. They contain organic ingredients, which are sourced and produced ethically. They’re also often free from animal testing, plus they’re safe to use on cloth nappies, all of which makes them great for your baby and the environment. Which would you rather put on your baby’s skin?
Dealing with nappy rash doesn’t have to be complicated. If you can give your newborn some nappy-free time, cut out artificial fragrances and other irritating ingredients from your immediate environment, and most importantly, use a natural nappy cream, your baby’s nappy rash should hopefully clear up within a few days. Of course, if it continues for more than a week, see your doctor or child health nurse.