So, it’s a typical day in baby-land…you’re changing a nappy for the 35th time that day, making weird faces at your baby to keep her entertained, and - BAM - there it is! What is that grotesque, red, blistery thing growing out of her bottom?! Your panicky mind is going a mile a minute: “Is it a flesh-eating disease? She probably only has minutes to live. Somebody call an ambulance! No time for an ambulance, I can get to the emergency room faster, and this is so obviously an emergency!” Or is it? Take a deep breath, put the keys down, and repeat after me: “It’s just a rash.” In fact, it’s one of many that your little one’s new body will develop, seemingly out of nowhere. But, it’s probably not as bad as it looks; most of the rashes and ailments you come across don’t require a trip to the ER or even special products. Nature has provided some of the best remedies, and you can be proactive in keeping nasty rashes and conditions at bay. So just stay calm and remember these tried and true techniques for healing your baby naturally.
- Nappy Rash
Most babies will experience some form of nappy rash. The affected skin will become red and irritated, probably causing your baby to feel some discomfort. Some of the main causes of nappy rash are friction, moisture, and an unclean nappy area. When you spot a nappy rash, let your baby enjoy some nappy-free time, which will help air out the rash.
Avoid conventional baby powders and wipes; the fragrances and chemicals will likely aggravate the rash further. Instead, try switching to a more natural cleansing routine. First, clean the nappy area using pure water. Gently pat, don’t rub, the area. Then, use a vinegar-water solution to help neutralize the acidity: Combine 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on your child’s nappy area. Let the solution air dry, and then sprinkle pure cornstarch onto the skin. The cornstarch will help absorb moisture and reduce friction. Following this method for every nappy change will likely clear up a rash - even an advanced one - within a couple of days. You can also try a natural nappy rash cream, but you'll want to look for one that not only seals out moisture, but contains plant-based ingredients, such as castor oil, that kill rash-causing bacteria.
TIP: If you’re cringing at the thought of a bottomless infant peeing all over your carpet, you might consider purchasing a container of puppy training pads and putting your baby on one for playtime while you keep a watchful eye.
If you've ever seen eczema up close and personal, you know that it’s uncomfortable just from the way it looks. Its hallmark is itchy skin that can appear as scaly patches or small red bumps. The cause of eczema is unknown, but triggers can be avoided to lessen outbreaks. Some triggers are dry skin, heat, environmental allergens, and exposure to chemicals found in many products and clothing.
If you suspect eczema, keep your baby clean with warm (not hot) baths. Because dry skin is a trigger, keep skin well moisturised with a gentle moisturiser. Dress your child in organic fabrics, which keep skin fresh by absorbing excess perspiration. This moisture-wicking property ensures that the clothes are more breathable. They are also softer as a result of the gentle manufacturing process, which means avoiding irritating, rough fabric. Choosing organic fabrics will also mean less exposure to potentially harmful ingredients that could very likely irritate the skin upon contact. Formaldehyde in particular is a common allergen and is also commonly used as a fabric treatment in the production of non-organic clothing. Even after multiple washes, these chemicals still may be present, and any trace can leave some babies with uncontrollably itchy skin. Along with choosing quality fabric, it’s also important to make sure that the clothes are the proper size. Yes, your little girl only got to wear that super-cute onesie with the sewn-in tutu once before she outgrew it, but it’s time to let it go. Tight-fitting clothing could rub uncomfortably against the skin, resulting in more irritation and less breathability.
Besides organic baby clothing, you'll also want to stick with natural skin care products. Read the labels to make sure there’s nothing that you know your child to be sensitive or allergic to, but otherwise, keep products as simple as possible. Just look at the back of one of those pretty pink baby lotion bottles you got for your baby shower. That’s an awful lot of unrecognisable ingredients for something that’s supposed to be “pure”. As with clothing, the more ingredients - especially when toxic chemicals are involved - the more your child may be exposed to something that irritates his sensitive skin.
- Heat Rash
Another condition to keep an eye out for is a heat rash, which may form if your baby gets overheated. These rashes are most likely to appear during the warmer weather months, but regardless of the time of year, you'll want to take steps to cool your child off. Try removing some or all clothing and moving your baby to a cool area. Cool wash cloths placed on the skin can help, or you can try a lukewarm bath with a little baking soda to soothe the rash. Allow the skin to air dry before applying loose clothing.
Like a heat rash, hives are a temporary condition, which occur when the body releases histamines as a reaction to allergies, illness, temperature shifts, or insect bites. They can also appear after taking certain medications. Hives are red, sometimes itchy rashes that are slightly raised. If you spot hives on one part of your baby and notice an hour later that the hives have completely vanished from their original location and have reappeared somewhere else, don’t worry…you’re not going insane. The tricky little buggers do have a tendency to shift all over the body. They typically go away on their own within a few days, but you may want to expedite healing, especially if the hives are making your child very uncomfortable. You can treat them the same way you would treat a heat rash: Cool wash cloths, a lukewarm bath and clothing that isn't overly snug.
- Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is a common condition in babies that results in oily, flaky skin on the scalp area. It’s harmless, but let’s just face it…it looks gross. You can eliminate cradle cap with a gentle routine to remove the affected skin. First, massage a natural oil into the babies’ scalp – olive and almond oil are both effective. Allow the oil to sit for 15 minutes, and then comb out the loose flakes. Continue with your normal shampoo routine to remove the oil.
- Teething Pain
You've heard it said before: All babies are different. Some don’t even seem to notice as their new teeth erupt, while others are fussy day and night as a result of the pain. To help ease the soreness, first see how your child reacts to cold things. Freeze a wet wash cloth or refrigerate a teething ring and show your baby how to chew on it. If the cold item is chucked across the room and your baby seems offended that you would give her such a thing, switch to room temperature remedies. A room temperature pacifier or teether will provide counter-pressure that your child might find soothing. For pressure that’s a little more intense, you can hold one end of a large carrot and allow your child to chew on the other end. Or, you can always stick with the old stand-by of massaging your child’s gums with a clean finger.
As a mother, it’s perfectly normal to get worried - or hysterical - when you spot a mysterious rash or when your baby seems to be feeling pain or discomfort. But, there are so many simple ways to soothe your little one that doesn't involve running out to the hospital or to the store for special products. By adopting some easy techniques, you can rest assured that you've provided healing for your child that is both natural and effective.