Some babies don’t need nappy rash creams at all. Some need them at every nappy change. No matter what your baby needs, here’s how to choose a non toxic nappy rash cream.
Why do you need to use a nappy cream on your baby?
Nappy creams are designed to:
- Protect baby’s skin from wetness
- Reduce friction where the nappy rubs
- Soothe irritated skin
- Protect baby’s skin from the acidity of wee and poops
Most nappy creams are preventative. Generally, this is all that most babies need.
Choose a mild cream or balm that will provide a protective barrier.
Make sure that baby’s bum is completely dry before you put a new nappy on. And give little bums plenty of nappy free time.
There’s other tips for preventing nappy rash in this post.
If your baby has bad nappy rash, your doctor might prescribe a medical cream. It could be a cortisone cream like Sigmacort, or an antifungal like Canesten or Daktarin. They aren’t designed to be used every day. They’re for treatment, not for prevention.
What to look for in a nappy rash cream
Choose an oil based cream or balm. Water based creams need preservatives, oil based ones don’t.
One Australian medical site advises against using:
“so called ‘natural products’ as they may contain colourings, perfumes and plant products that have the potential to cause an allergic reaction.”
It’s true of any product, not just natural products. Read the ingredients, not just the front of the pack.
Always avoid colourings and perfumes in baby products.
For most babies, plant based products or food based products aren’t going to cause any problems. However, there are times when you’d be better to use a mineral oil based product. If there is eczema in the family, or the skin is broken, you can increase the chances of an allergic reaction. There’s more information in this article about when you should avoid natural products.
Look for zinc oxide in nappy creams. It repels water, and it soothes and calms skin irritations. It doesn’t play well with cloth nappies, though. I wrote about the best nappy creams to use with cloth nappies in this post, if you want more information on this.
What to avoid in nappy creams
I recommend that you avoid these ingredients in nappy creams:
- Sodium borate (also known as borax)
- Propylene glycol
- Petroleum products
- Formaldehyde releasers
- Problematic preservatives (there’s a list in this article)
- Benzyl alcohol
Sodium borate shouldn’t be used on infant skin, or on broken skin.
Benzyl alcohol can be natural (it occurs in some essential oils). It can also be synthetic. It’s a mild anaesthetic. But it’s not a local anaesthetic (as I read in one slightly hysterical blog post about nappy rash creams). That’s not the issue with benzyl alcohol. Pawpaw also has mild anaesthetic properties, and I don’t recommend that you avoid pawpaw.
The problem with benzyl alcohol is that it shouldn’t be used on infant skin. Although it’s Ecocert approved, it’s not recommended for infants.
How to choose a non toxic nappy cream
Naturally, all the nappy rash creams that we stock at Hello Charlie are non toxic.
For a detailed breakdown of safer nappy rash creams, stay tuned for our Cheat Sheets. I’ve listed as many nappy rash creams as I could find in Australia. I’ll be releasing that on 1 September, so make sure that you keep your eye on the blog. Or sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email the cheat sheet to you automatically.