Hygiene products are some of the items you will use the most with your baby. Shower gel, shampoo, cleansing water, ointment, wipes, and of course diapers, are ever-present in your baby’s daytime routine. You want your baby to be feeling fresh and clean, protected from over-exposure to chemicals, but you also want your daily life made easier and you do not want to be digging an excessively large hole in your pocket for pure marketing stunts. How to make the best possible tradeoffs?
- Applications that rate products based on their ingredients: Numerous applications are out there to help choose your products. I recommend Yuca. You scan the barcode of the product you’re about to buy and it gives you a simple grade from 0 to 100. The higher the grade, the better the product in terms if its constituents. It also lists the harmful constituents if any and classifies them in terms of the kind of risk: allergens, carcinogens, etc. When at a loss between two products, I tend to go with the one that’s better rated on Yuca. Note that the application is not full-proof but it’s much easier than researching each constituent yourself. You’d be surprised that very often, the most expensive product or the one with eco-friendly looking packaging is far from the best option.
- Mix and match: as opposed to picking one brand and sticking to it, I’d recommend buying several equivalent products, each of a different brand. In addition to allowing you to test and compare for yourself, different products offer different tradeoffs and each might be better suited for a specific usage or occasion. Take diapers as an example: I personally went for Pampers for daytime regular use and for an organic brand for longer periods of exposure such as nighttime use (Joone, Lilydoo, or Little big change are good options if you’re based in France). I preferred to use the most absorbant diapers during the day to avoid leaks, especially when we’re out and about. At nighttime however, the period of exposure to a single diaper is much longer once your baby starts sleeping through the night, which for me warranted the extra cost and potential hassle of organic diapers. Similarly for cleansing water brands, a perfume-free product is best for frequent use. I switch between Avène, Dodie and Mustela Bio for this purpose. Every once in a while, however, be it for a special occasion or just to change, I use the regular Mustela cleaning water for my baby’s face and neck, which is slightly perfumed.
- Go easy on the creams: your baby doesn’t need as much creams as you might be tempted to believe. Applying moisturizers is often recommended for babies, but unless your baby has particularly dry skin, there’s no need to preemptively over-expose them to too much moisturizer. I personally used a hydrating body cream only very occasionally after the bath (no more than once a week), and my baby has had no dryness or skin issues whatsoever. One area where special care is needed is of course our baby’s bottom. I highly recommend applying an olive-oil based ointment systematically almost with every diaper change. These are more than 99% olive oil and act as a protection against rashes. Typical barrier creams usually contain much more chemicals and are best reserved for times when your baby does actually have a rash, to help it heal faster. Olive oil is probably what your grandma used back in the day and the modern version of that age-old recipe does the job just as well, minimizing your baby’s exposure to chemicals. My baby has had zero diaper rashes using this method.
- Skipping the wet-wipes is easier than you think: wet-wipes seem to be the default choice for most parents. I invite you to perform a small experiment to understand why you should give this a second thought. Take a piece of thick coton, pour some water on it, and leave it at room temperature in a sealed package for a few days. That piece of cotton is undoubtedly going to develop fungus due to the dampness. So how do wet-wipes last so long? Regardless of what the packaging says, chemicals are at play. If you go with wet-wipes, on average, you will use around 30 per day. That’s quite a lot of exposure for your baby and a simpler, cheaper, greener, and safer substitute exists. Simply use regular, dry, coton squares and add the water yourself! You can use regular tap water if that’s handy for you, or a baby cleansing water product. Your baby, your wallet, and the environment will thank you for it! Keep a decent brand of wet-wipes for when you’re out in a restaurant, shopping, or visiting friends.