There's a lot of confusion when it comes to protecting your skin, so be sure you're not falling for any of the top ten sunscreen myths. Parents want to minimize how many chemicals their baby is absorbing, which is why they should stick to zinc-oxide based sunscreens: The block will protect babies from ultraviolet light with minimal risk of irritation or chemical absorption. "Before the age of 6 months, babies can be protected from sun through ultraviolet-blocking clothing and avoidance of direct sunlight," says Dr. Nazarian. "After 6 months, apply liberal topical sunscreen on your baby 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours." As for spray sunscreens, avoid them child until is much older. "Even with toddlers, there's a risk of inhalation of sunscreen and irritation to the child's respiratory tissue and lungs." Additionally, it's much more difficult to determine if an appropriate amount of sunscreen has been applied when using spray form; much of the sunscreen is lost in the breeze.
Scented body wash
Bath time can lead to skin damage for babies, warns Dr. Nazarian. Parents can overdo the scrubbing, given that babies are rarely dirty and cleanings should be quick. Using gentle cleansers. Dr. Nazarian recommends washes that are free of any synthetic fragrances, parabens, or irritating sulfates; the fewer additives in the product, the less chance of irritation. "In addition to parabens, try to avoid ingredients listed as perfumes and coloring. You don't want to strip natural oils and hydrators on baby's skin." And yes, even babies can get eczema, so review all ingredients carefully. According to Dr. Nazarian, when it comes to baby's bath time, it's best to look for products containing soothing oatmeal or calming coconut butter. If you or your baby are battling skin issues, try some of these home remedies for eczema and psoriasis relief.
Yes, it's right there in the name—how could baby powder be bad? "I recommend against the use of baby powder and other powders for diaper rash," warns Dr. Nazarian. "The aerosolized particles are quite irritating to a baby's lungs and have the potential to cause respiratory problems." Also, avoid putting baby powder in the diaper regions.
Adult skin products
Go with creams or ointments which are less likely to contain ingredients that can provoke a reaction. Lanolin can be an option: "Babies can have all kinds of allergies, to anything, but unless you're noticing a rash after application, lanolin is generally quite safe for use," says Dr. Nazarian. She recommends products the Promise Organic Baby line—she's a spokesperson for the brand—because the ingredients are organic and the products avoid harsh or irritating substances (no parabens, added fragrances, or harsh surfactants). According to WebMD, lanolin is generally used topically as a moisturizer to treat or prevent dry, rough, scaly, itchy skin and minor skin irritations, including diaper rash.
Be wary of essential oils
Although popular with adults, according to Dr. Nazarian, essential oils can be heavily perfumed, and are potentially irritating to delicate baby skin. Try to use products that are specifically formulated to moisturize the sensitive skin of a baby, such as those containing coconut butter (a mix of coconut oil and shea butter) or oatmeal based creams which are calming and soothing. (For adults, essential oils can really help with acne).
Many retail brands produce "sensitive skin" laundry detergent, which is free of dyes and perfumes. When washing baby's clothes, according to Dr. Nazarian, Dreft is a great option, as is Tide Free and Gentle, and All Free and Clear. "They are all safe for use on babies—and adults alike!"
Scented diaper rash creams
Look for creams without synthetic fragrances—you want something that will be naturally calming since these creams are continuously used on a very delicate and sensitive area, explains Dr. Nazarian. Zinc oxide and petroleum are both safe ingredients to look for in diaper cream. "Aquaphor is a good option, as is Promise Organic Baby which makes a diaper rash cream with zinc oxide and has added oatmeal, a naturally gentle and soothing ingredient."