Out of nowhere, our one-year-old daughter, Rebekah, decided baths were synonymous with torture. Every time we started a bath–she’d start a tantrum. She kept trying to stand up and crawl out of the tub. So not safe! To complicate the bath situation further, she has also been battling mild eczema for the past three months.
We just ended the bath standoff this week–hurray! We have successfully had two baths where she didn’t scream or try to escape this week. I think I even saw her smile . . . Switching her bath time to morning or midday when she isn’t tired, like she is before bed, made a huge difference! Now she is awake enough to want to play and splash around.
We have also made progress with caring for her sensitive skin. One of the first things her pediatrician told us was that she had very fair, and thus, sensitive skin. She is also very warm-natured, like her dad, so she overheats easily. After trial and error, research, and suggestion from our doctor, we found several things that help with her sensitive skin.
We are not experts! But these tips are a result of research and our success:
1. Don’t give your baby a bath every day.
Babies don’t typically need daily baths. I struggled with this at first because so many moms from my mom and grandma’s generation talked about the importance of daily baths. But baths felt like such an ordeal and they seemed to irritate Rebekah’s skin. So I asked her pediatrician, and he simply said, “You only need to give her a bath when she’s dirty or smells.” We don’t take it quite this far. We try and aim for a bath every 2-3 days or more if needed. Daily baths are not necessary. They can contribute to drying out and irritating the skin.
Of course there are times you may give frequent baths, like during the summer when babies are outside and sweaty more, when they start crawling and walking all over, or while they are sick with something like Hand, Foot, and Mouth because baths can bring them much-needed relief.
2. Moisturize with coconut oil.
We have done this from the very beginning. It seems to help whenever her skin flares up with diaper rash or eczema. I also add a tiny bit of lavender and tea tree essential oil to it to aid healing. Virgin coconut oil (affiliate link) is known for its healing properties and for being healthy for skin.
Coconut oil is great to use for baby massage. Warm a little bit on your palm and massage over your baby’s body after a bath or before bed. It is a relaxing experience that helps them sleep better. Plus, many massages can help relieve trapped gas or abdominal discomfort.
3. Wash new clothes before wearing.
I will admit that I had never heard of doing this. Of course I would if I bought clothes used, but not new. When I heard about this, I made sure to wash all of Rebekah’s new clothes before she wore them. There is often a finish put on new clothes to make them look cute, but it can irritate a baby’s tender skin. Washing before wear in a gentle, baby-safe detergent will remove anything irritating.
4. Always check the soap.
Soap is a common culprit for irritating baby’s skin. Whether it is laundry soap or bath soap, it can really do a number on sensitive skin! General tips are to avoid scented soaps and dyes.
I used to be a huge fan of Ecos Free and Clear because it lasted for so long and worked great on Rebekah’s clothes, our clothes, and cloth diapers. However, they have changed the formula recently, and I am skeptical about it being okay with cloth diapers. I am going to experiment with making natural laundry detergent with a recipe I found in this ebook (part of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle):
I have a friend who has a young boy and cloth diapers and she swears by a very similar recipe. Plus it comes out to 1-3 cents per load of laundry! 🙂
This past week I also contacted Bloom Naturals, one of the bonus partners for the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. I emailed with Molly, the creator, about what to use on Rebekah’s skin. She was so sweet, fast at responding, and helpful. Upon her recommendation I am trying out Nourish, an all-in-one cleanser and moisturizer. So far it is working great! It is even supposed to help with cradle cap and diaper rash. Bloom Naturals was started by Molly, a mother seeking to nourish her children’s skin without all the fillers and toxins one typically finds in lotions and soaps. She uses only plant oils and butters because she believes these things help the skin restore and heal itself.
However, I wouldn’t use it on your baby’s hair unless she has cradle cap. Since this is an oil cleanser, it will leave your baby’s hair oily. We usually just wash Rebekah’s hair with water. It works for her. Maybe she doesn’t smell like a Johnson & Johnson baby, but her cradle cap is gone, her hair is rinsed clean, and it just works.
(You can check out more on Bloom Naturals and the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle bonuses here.)
5. Keep it simple when it comes to diaper rash.
Diaper rash and yeast rash are no fun for you or your baby. There are a TON of products that you can use, but should you? I honestly don’t know. But I know most of them don’t work with cloth diapering . . .
When Rebekah got yeast rash the first time (she was a warm-natured, chunky baby) I was so self-conscious and unsure of what to try. Reading ingredients on diaper cream often freaked me out a bit.
So what did work? Simple things: Changing her diaper more frequently. Using cloth wipes or a wash cloth and water rather than store-bought wipes. Only wiping her down when she pooped or smelled. Now, before I became a mom I would think that sounded gross. But not always wiping her worked wonders for her tender bottom. Air down there is your best friend. Lay out a couple towels or blankets and let your baby’s bottom breath. Coconut oil can create a nice barrier cream.
Though both cloth and disposable diapers can limit air flow, if you need to check the absorbency of your cloth diapers, you can always temporarily switch to disposable. Sometimes they wick the moisture away better. If you already use disposable diapers and are having issues, try a different brand!
Also, since we were cloth diapering, I discovered (the hard way–yeast rash with Rebekah) that we had hard water. Since I did not initially adjust the way I washed her diapers, the hard water built up on them and made them less absorbent and more irritating. Thus, I had to strip them to remove the buildup. Now I add a little Borax to each load to soften the water. We haven’t had any major issues since. 🙂
6. Ditch the fleece sleepers as soon as possible for cool cottons if you have a warm-natured baby.
This was a HUGE help for us! I love the cute fleece sleepers, and in the dead of winter, when your six-month-old baby is too young to sleep with a blanket–they are great. But, if your baby is at all warm natured, the fleece may cause her to get too hot and thus irritate her skin. When we said “See ya next winter!” to Rebekah’s fleece sleepers and replaced them with cool cottons, her skin improved and she started sleeping better.
Veteran parents and new parents, what tips would you add to this list? I would love to know!
Also, for more great DIY natural detergents and cleaners, great product bonuses, and 93 homemaking resources (there is seriously something for everyone), check out The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! It is only available for 4 more days!