There’s a saying by Canadian social reformer and educator Martin McLuhan: “Diaper backward spells repaid”. One thing is pretty certain: a wise choice of diaper care products can be repaid with quieter nights and happier daytime play.
All babies have at least one bout of diaper rash before they are potty-trained. There’s no way around it. Frequent diaper changes (not less than seven a day), water rinsing when practical instead of baby wipes, a regular application of lightweight baby oils and use of all-natural baby wipes can help control, if not completely prevent baby rash.
Sometimes diaper rash can be caused by the very diapers you use. Cloth diapers are more prone to causing skin irritations, perhaps due to a fact that the moisture is not quickly wicked off the skin, like in disposable diapers.
Unlike many other green moms, I am not a firm believer in cloth diapers (I already envision skeptical frowns.) Before my baby was born, I stocked an ample supply of soft, fluffy cloth diapers, woolen pants, and waterproof pads, none of which came cheap. After a month of daily diaper washes, our water and electricity bills skyrocketed! The almost constant diaper rash despite frequent changes and usage of only natural detergents (think Dr. Bronner’s soap and plain unscented soap flakes, not Fairy liquid!) was also a decisive factor. We switched to biodegradable, chlorine-free disposables made of corn, and my daughter has never had a bout of diaper rash ever since. With monthly a cost of $40 (instead of $100-plus that advocates of cloth diapering claim) and substantially lower environmental impact, I am happy to use disposable diapers with biodegradable liners and pack them in compostable diaper sacks. Even if you choose to use cloth diapers, keep a pack of larger-sized (not training pants) diapers for diaper rash emergencies.
To soothe a baby’s diaper area, always wash it with water instead of cleaning with wipes, even if you made your own completely green ones. Pat the area dry and apply a barrier cream with zinc oxide, calendula, aloe or chamomile. I am not a huge fan of lavender, and whenever possible, I choose a cream that has only few ingredients, to minimize any risk of irritation. And of course, I steer clear from any diaper balms that have any PEGs, parabens, artificial fragrances, silicone, or other chemicals nasties. Why would I use them if so many natural alternatives are available?
Here are some of the better green baby creams that quickly zap diaper rash.
California Baby Diaper Rash Cream is a rich, emollient ointment that has a high concentration of anti-inflammatory zinc oxide. It helps heal irritation faster with vitamin E, linoleic acid-rich evening primrose oil, and soothing aloe vera, but the cream has way too many essential oils and arnica to be well-tolerated by sensitive bottoms. Still, it is excellent proof that you can make a commercially successful barrier cream without preservatives or silicones.
Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment melts on touch with the baby’s skin which is excellent if your baby’s diaper rash is oozing and feels wet. Rich in zinc oxide, healing vitamin E, soothing calendula and chamomile, this cream can heal most diaper rashes in two applications. An extra bonus: a very faint natural scent that does not seem to bother picky noses.
My personal favorite among baby products, Badger Baby Balm efficiently handles diaper rash, dry skin, cradle cap, even chapped lips in a weary mom. The balm has a very simple formula: just five ingredients, including virgin olive oil, calendula and chamomile oil. Comes in handy tubes and cute little tins for extra portability.