There’s almost nothing quite so vulnerable as a newborn baby. They’re SO tiny and fragile and helpless. Truth be told, their degree of development (or more so, lack thereof) is actually quite an oddity. “Human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped,” writes Kate Wong for Scientific American. “Indeed, by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.” (Raise your hand if you’d rather have an extremely helpless baby vs. being pregnant for 18 to 21 months.✋✋✋)
Anyway, among their many underdeveloped biological systems is their skin. Newborn skin is about 30% thinner than adult skin and it absorbs and loses water faster, leaving it vulnerable to dryness and irritation. Plus, it’s structurally different than an adult’s in regards to how the cells are put together. Skin is your body’s largest organ and one of its primary jobs is to keep the outside world out, but a baby's skin is more like a sieve, and it allows more substances through. Because the skin is not fully developed it is more vulnerable to damage, which means that it needs to be treated with extra special care.
Most brands want to pull the wool over your eyes because they want to make a buck no matter what. And they take advantage of the fact that a ton of claims have no federally regulated definitions. Look for trusted certifications (like the National Eczema Association, Parent Tested Parent Approved, Made Safe, and EWG Verified). And if you don’t see a certification and have a question about any sort of claim a company is making, ask! If they’re evasive about defining and supporting what they’re claiming, move on.
Flip those products over and take a peek at the ingredient lists (ILs). Have a question about an ingredient? That’s totally normal. They’re often pretty unrecognizable, but that doesn’t always mean they’re bad. Check the company website for ingredient transparency or ask their customer service team. If they aren’t willing to tell you what something is and what it’s sourced from, move on.
Also, while there’s no proof that exposure to scented products can increase the chances a child will develop eczema, skin sensitivities, or hay fever, if any of these “allergic diseases” runs in your family, that’s a solid reason to consider going fragrance-free when it comes to baby’s skin.
Bonus tip: Introduce new products one at a time. It’s much easier to pinpoint things your wee one might be sensitive to when you’re assessing them individually. And that goes for body care, food, new household cleaners, a new perfume you’re wearing, pretty much anything new you’re introducing into their environment.
(Shameless self-promotion Hello Bello has a fabulous selection of fragrance free products! Diapers, Baby Wipes, Shampoo + Body Wash, Conditioner, Bubble Bath, Everywhere Balm, Baby Powder, Diaper Rash Cream, Baby Oil, and Laundry Detergent!)