Author – Saudamini Sharma
Parents are constantly lured by beautiful images of kids beaming through commercial ads on TV and billboards all the time. However, are these baby products really what they promise to be or are there better alternatives?
When it comes to children, we Indians have many superstitions. Putting kajal in children’s eyes to ward off evil is one such. Similarly massaging kids with oil for strong bones is also a common practice. Earlier, most of these products were either homemade or sourced locally. But we, being the generation of convenience, want to follow traditions but not the whole nine yards of effort that was associated with it. So, all the traditional home-based products are replaced with commercially available packaged baby products. However, not all such products are safe for your baby’s fragile and sensitive skin.
Here is a list of five products containing toxic ingredients that must be avoided for babies, along with a suggested list of healthy alternatives for baby products:
Baby Talcum Powder
One of the most commonly used baby products is talcum powder. Talc is its main ingredient, which is a powdered mineral usually used as a drying agent and is now identified as a lung irritant and also possibly be carcinogenic in nature. One can keep the baby dry and even avoid the use of talcum powder by:
- Changing the soiled diaper at regular intervals
- Use wet and soft cloth to clean the sweat from under the armpits and the neck
- Making the baby wear loose cotton cloth
Having said that, if you would really like to use powder to keep your baby dry, there is many talc-free powders available in the market as well. While buying a brand, it is best to check on the label before purchase. If you insist on doing-it-yourself (DIY), the internet is filled with make-at-home talc-free baby powder options.
Recommended DIY Baby Talcom Powder
Kajal is widely used to ward off the ‘evil eye’ from babies. Traditionally, it was made with lamp carbon, ghee, mustard oil or sesame oil. But commercially available products are known to contain lead, which is harmful not only for a baby’s eye, but for an adult as well. Nowadays, there are many lead-free, ayurvedic and organic kajals available in the market. Again for DIY lovers, you can ask the elders in your family about the traditional method of kajal making or find tutorials and Youtube videos on making kajal at home.
Recommended DIY Kajal
Massaging babies with oil is an essential routine for strengthening their bones. Most of the commercially available baby oils are perfumed oils that are made of mineral oil and fragrance, both of which are harmful. Mineral oil is a by-product obtained from processing petroleum products. It is used in baby oils since it is cheap and easy to obtain. Mineral oils tend to clog the pores of the baby’s skin, thus inhibiting the skin’s ability to release toxins. Instead of these, it is much better to use baby oils such as mustard oil, coconut oil and olive oil for massaging a baby.
Recommended DIY Body Oil
Soaps, Shampoos, and Moisturizers
Most soaps, shampoos, body washes, lotions and moisturizers contain harmful chemicals. One such type of chemicals are Parabens, which are neurotoxins linked to reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption, and skin irritation.
Indian culture has wide array of ‘ubtan’ for babies, which can be safely applied on babies without worrying about any harmful effects of chemicals. Although every region of the country has its own ubtan for babies, usually a paste of gram flour (besan), a little turmeric (haldi) and milk, which helps in moisturizing the skin and removing hair. Many a time, an oil massage is also done after applying ubtan. This helps in cleaning off most of the dried besan and also helps in making the skin supple. If you are one who cannot make these at home then there are a few companies that have started making these traditional ubtans for babies without any fragrance or harmful chemicals. Do read the labels and check the ingredients that have been used before you buy any such product though.
Recommended DIY Baby Soap
Baby wipes are essentially wet wipes. However, chemicals are required to keep anything wet for long periods without water being added at regular intervals. Propylene glycol is generally used in wiper fluids and also to de-ice airplanes. Baby skin is soft and baby wipes are usually used at the most sensitive part of the skin. Due to the presence of such harmful chemicals, many babies often develop rashes due to the use of wet wipes.
If you are forced to use baby wipes, then do look at the labels and buy those that do not contain polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG). Soft wet cloth or wet cotton swabs are, in fact, always a better alternative when it comes to cleaning the baby. Given the adverse nature of various chemicals that is present in most baby products, it is time that we begun to appreciate the traditional methods of keeping the baby clean.
Recommended DIY Baby Wipes
Hope you know some better alternatives for baby products that you can suggest us!