Updated: Apr 11
If you're reading this, you are most likely a new parent, or someone who will soon welcome her bundle of joy. Exciting times! But we can't help but worry too. This is normal, after all, we are born as parents on the same day our baby is born. We are thrust into this whole new world, so many things to learn, so little time.
I have 3 kids and I am still figuring things out. One of the first things I quickly learned first hand, is that babies, young kids, pregnant and breastfeeding moms have delicate bodies that have different needs. Being natural does not immediately mean it is non-irritating (case in point, mosquito bites and poison ivy are natural yet causes itch..） My firstborn had eczema and very sensitive skin; it took much mom-sleuthing and trials and errors to figure out what's good and what triggers his flares.
Fine wool, pure cotton, or bamboo fibers are generally good for delicate skin. They are non-scratchy, soft, and don't trap in moisture as much as synthetic fabrics. Fine wool is particularly good for eczema-prone skin. It helps regulate body temperature, to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. It absorbs 30% more moisture away from the body, so during hot days you may notice the baby looking more comfortable and less drenched in sweat.
There's a misconception that wool is scratchy. Even when it's labelled 100% wool, sometimes the fabric is mixed with lower quality wool to increase profit margins. Look for "fine wool" or "merino wool " on the label.
Are expensive baby detergents really necessary? It depends on whether your baby is allergic or sensitive to the ingredients. To test if your regular detergent is good enough, wash a batch of baby clothes and observe his skin. Our baby had severe eczema but it turned out the detergent wasn't his trigger. This discovery saved us some cash, which we reallocated to other essentials.
The irritation may also be due to the delergent not dissolved properly nor not rinsed off thoroughly. Ideally choose a fragrance-free, dye-free detergent to wash everything that may touch baby's skin. This includes your clothes and bed sheets. Some gentle, natural alternatives for laundry are baking soda, soap nuts, or vinegar.
VOC-free paints & furnishings
Prepping the nursery is one of the fun experiences for expecting the baby. Repainting the room or selecting the crib and furniture. Choose paints that are not only odor-free, they must be VOC-free. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are harmful fumes that are released in the air. These may irritate the skin or the respiratory system.
VOCs may be found in paints, wallpaper or furniture glue, new furniture, chemical household cleaners, dry cleaning, and many products around us. We may not entirely avoid VOCs, but we can lessen our exposure. Make sure there's good airflow in the room and let the furnishings aerate properly before the baby comes.
Virgin Coconut Oil
Look for moisturizing balms made from organic virgin coconut oil, ideally enriched with more Monolaurin. Do you know how gentle is Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO)? It has many studies on its numerous benefits, including on premature babies. A 2017 study on 72 premature infants born <30 weeks concluded that applying coconut oil improved the health of their delicate skin without adverse effects. The Philippine Children's Medical Center also published a study that VCO being fed to premature babies helped them safely gain weight.
It's so gentle on skin yet tough on germs. It contains monolaurin, a wonder nutrient also abundant in breastmilk, giving it skin-healing, germ-fighting powers