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Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?

Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?

It's one of those scents that have become synonymous with babies - baby powder. For decades it's been associated with being a symbol of freshness and cleanliness, used liberally for preventing nappy rash.

However, the American Academy of Paediatrics now recommends against using baby powder for concerns over respiratory problems. Talc is made of finely ground powder developed from magnesium silicate, a mineral composed primarily of magnesium, silicone, and oxygen. The particles are light enough to be carried through the air and inhaled by baby, adversely affecting their breathing. And that is the least of our worries, with the president of the industry's Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association conceding in 2002 that talc is toxic and can reach the human ovaries. There's even a class action lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson - arguably the most well known manufacturer of baby powder in the world, as plaintiffs argue that the company has known about the risks of ovarian cancer with the use of these products for decades, yet failed to warn their consumers. 

Should You Use Baby Powder on Your Baby?

What are some alternatives to talc based baby powder? 

At first, we moved from talc that contained asbestos, to talc that did not contain asbestos. Phew! What a relief. But as we learn more about the toxicity of talc, we started seeing corn starch based baby powders emerge. Corn starch is made up of larger particles that are less likely to be inhaled. Common ingredients in non-toxic baby powders might include:

  • Aloe Vera for soothing and healing chafed skin
  • Arrowroot powder - a soft, herb based powder frequently mixed with corn starch, ideal for healing irritated or blemished skin
  • Corn starch, made from corn kernels
  • Kaolin clay, an absorbent mineral ideal for use on sensitive skin
  • Essential oils for natural fragrance

All the baby powders we stock here at Hello Charlie are based on corn starch. Even if you're using a talc free baby powder, you still need to be careful when you're applying it. Step back from your baby and apply some into your hand first to reduce the risk of inhalation from particles in the air and prevent irritation. Be sure to store your baby powder high out of reach to prevent a cloud of powder from being inhaled or trodden into the carpet. If 'less likely' to be inhaled still concerns you, skip the corn starch baby powder altogether.  

Some say that corn starch can worsen a yeast infection of the skin and create a really bad nappy rash. It's, for this reason, that baby powder, both talc and corn starch based, is used as a preventative and not a treatment. So always ensure that you remove any baby powder from the last nappy change and thoroughly dry the baby's nappy area before applying more. 

Some fresh air and a little sunshine during 'nappy free' time does wonders for preventing and treating nappy rash, too. There are also plenty of natural creams for treating nappy rash once it starts to develop. 

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