Babies have brand new bodies, which means they are super sensitive to picking up all sorts of nasties. Although it’s tempting to reach for the chemical-laden ointments and medicines, many natural care methods are just as effective and 100% safe. Some complaints may require a doctor’s visit or more extensive treatment, but the most common are harmless and treatable with a little natural TLC.
Babies’ sensitive skin tends to be prone to skin conditions such as eczema, heat rash and allergies. These rashes are often itchy and bothersome to babies, but there are ways to help minimize the irritation naturally.
Most babies will experience some form of diaper rash. The affected skin will become red and irritated and could blister, probably causing your baby to feel discomfort. Some of the main causes of diaper rash are friction, moisture, and an unclean diaper area.
- When you spot a rash, let your baby enjoy some diaper-free time, which will help air out the rash.
- Avoid conventional baby powders and wipes; the fragrances and chemicals will likely aggravate the rash further. Instead, try switching to a more natural cleansing routine. First, clean the diaper area using pure water. Gently pat, don’t rub, the area. Then, use a vinegar-water solution to help neutralize the acidity: Combine 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on your child’s diaper area. Let the solution air dry, and then sprinkle pure cornflour / cornstarch onto the skin. The cornflour / cornstarch will help absorb moisture and reduce friction. Following this method for every diaper change will likely clear up a rash – even an advanced one – within a couple of days.
- You can also try a natural diaper rash cream, but you’ll want to look for one that not only seals out moisture, but contains plant-based ingredients, such as castor oil, that kill rash-causing bacteria.
Eczema results in itchy skin that can appear as scaly patches or small red bumps. The exact cause of eczema is unknown. However, triggers can be avoided to lessen outbreaks. Some triggers are dry skin, heat, environmental allergens, and exposure to chemicals found in many products and clothing.
- Keep your baby clean with warm, not hot, baths. Because dry skin is a trigger, keep skin well moisturized with a gentle natural based moisturiser.
- Dress your child in organic baby clothing. Organic cotton is a much gentler option for your baby and is known for being breathable and very soft. Choosing organic fabrics will also mean less exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, dyes and bleaches that could very likely irritate the skin even more. Formaldehyde in particular is a common allergen and is commonly used as a fabric treatment in the production of non-organic clothing. Even after multiple washes, these chemicals may still be present.
- Besides organic clothing, you’ll also want to stick with natural skin care products. Read the labels to make sure there’s nothing that you know your child to be sensitive or allergic to, but otherwise, keep products as simple as possible. As with clothing, the more ingredients – especially when toxic chemicals are involved – the more your child may be exposed to something that irritates his sensitive skin
A heat rash may form if your baby gets overheated. Heat rash looks like tiny red dots or pimples and is most likely to appear during the warmer, more humid months.
- Try removing some or all clothing and moving your baby to a cool area.
- Cool washcloths placed on the skin can help, or you can try a lukewarm bath with a little baking soda to soothe the rash. Allow the skin to air dry before applying loose clothing.
Hives / Urticaria
Hives or Urticaria occur when the body releases histamines as a reaction to allergens, illness, temperature shifts, or insect bites. They can also appear after taking certain medications or even from a reaction to cow’s milk. They show up as red, sometimes itchy rashes that are slightly raised. They typically go away on their own within a few days, but you may want something soothing, especially if the hives are making your child very uncomfortable.
- Cool washcloths, a lukewarm bath and clothing that isn’t overly snug.
- Aloe Vera can be soothing – Apply sparingly.
Fevers are reactions that may occur due to illness, a recent vaccination or overheating. Mild fevers generally don’t need to be treated with medication unless your child is noticeably uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. If your baby has a fever and is still having wet diapers, is eating well and seems alert, there are natural ways to help bring their temperature down. If your baby is under 3 months old and has a fever, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- Remove some or all clothing and move your baby to a cooler area.
- Bathe baby in lukewarm water, never cold as this can shock the body. Alternatively use washcloth to sponge down.
- Dress in light clothes or just a nappy, and increase consumption of formula or breast milk to prevent dehydration.
- Make sure baby gets plenty of rest.
You’ve heard it said before: All babies are different. Some don’t even seem to notice as their new teeth erupt, while others are fussy day and night as a result of the pain.
- To help ease the soreness, first see how your child reacts to cold things. Freeze a wet washcloth or refrigerate a teething ring and show your baby how to chew on it. If the cold items are rejected, switch to room temperature remedies.
- A room temperature dummy or teether will provide counter-pressure that your child might find soothing. For pressure that’s a little more intense, you can hold one end of a large carrot and allow your child to chew on the other end.
- Or, you can always stick with the tried-and-true technique of massaging your child’s gums with a clean finger.
As a parent, especially a first time parent, it’s perfectly normal for a little panic to rise up when you spot a mysterious rash or when your baby seems to be feeling pain or discomfort. But, there are so many simple ways to soothe your little one that most of the time it really isn’t necessary to run to the chemist for over the counter medicines. By adopting some simple, back to basic practices, you can rest easy knowing you’ve provided comfort for your baby that is both natural and effective.
In nurture and nature,
Melissa Blight is a busy mother of 2 from WA and a self-confessed workaholic. In 2014, with a background in design and a passion for all things natural, she created Aster & Oak, a 100% organic baby clothing label. She is currently trying to master the art of being a mum and running a company from home whilst maintaining some sort of normality..