How to make your home healthier for baby
Parents know it’s important to give their baby healthy food, but what comes into contact with a baby’s skin is just as important. Everyone’s skin absorbs chemicals from the products they use on and around it - and because a baby’s skin is five times as thinner of that of an adult’s, it absorbs more. And what gets absorbed can have a strong effect. So consider looking around the rooms you clean often, what you use for your laundry, and your baby care products, and think about how safe your home is for your baby and the whole family.
If you use spray cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom, they can contain potentially harmful anti-bacterial ingredients, solvents and fragrances. And using too many germ killing products in pursuit of a sterile home can actually work against a baby’s healthy immune system. They need to be exposed to germs to develop it. Another possibly harmful ingredient to check for is sodium lauryl sulphate, often found in detergents and stain removers. It’s known to be a skin irritant and can be contaminated with carcinogens. When you’re using home cleaners, consider measures to maintain indoor air quality and reduce your baby’s exposure to the chemicals in them that could be of harm. That means opening windows and cleaning in a separate room to the one your baby is in.
Keep an eye out for what’s in your baby products, too, as some contain possible harmful ingredients. That includes synthetic perfumes, which can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs and can also have allergen components that cause allergic contact dermatitis. Others that may be harmful are mineral oil, for which an unrefined source contains carcinogens, found in some baby oils, and cocomidopropyl betaine, a plant-based ingredients found in some bubble baths and a known skin irritant.
You might want to try products that don’t include potentially nasty chemicals like optical brighteners and synthetic dyes and fragrance. The chemical residue from some laundry products can hang around in your linens and clothes, so could be a persistent skin irritant for your baby. Those chemical residues can then be re-activated when a baby sweats or produces any other kinds of moisture. And because cotton baby clothes can often be treated with toxic chemicals when they’re made, it pays to wash them with a gentle liquid detergent before they’re worn.
Parents wash their hands a lot after changing nappies, and anti-bacterial soaps can seem like the best option. However, they can contain possibly harmful ingredients like triclosan, which strips the skin’s natural protective oils and can leave it irritated. New parents change a lot of nappies and are forever in the bathroom washing their hands. It might seem like the right thing to use an anti-bacterial hand wash or soap, yet antibacterial soaps have been proven to have no better cleaning properties than normal soap, and are often loaded with nasty chemical ingredients like triclosan that strip your skin of its natural protective oils, and can aggravate the skin, leaving it red and itchy.