Monday, May 17, 2010

On a Slightly Different Note: Baby Toiletries

It is warm, finally. The sun is shining. Looking after my baby is getting easier and easier. I am getting excited about my breastfeeding counselling training and things are starting to fall into place around the peer support I am currently involved in. Life is good. So what is a formerly angst-ridden mother supposed to write about?

I have found my mind turning towards the old "no 'poo" thing. You know, no shampoo (the other thing would be unhealthy). Since Cave Baby was born we have probably washed her hair with shampoo about three times. I remember in our antenatal class the midwife told us not to bother with baby toiletries, so we took her literally and bought none. (This caused some consternation to the midwife who visited the day after the birth wanting to bathe Cave Baby and wash the blood off her head. She could not imagine not putting any products in a bath). Despite our shunning of hair products, Cave Baby has the softest, cleanest, most gorgeously baby-smelling hair. All we do is rinse it under the shower every three or four days, and we don't use any skin washing products on her either.

What I want to know is whether this clean un-shampooed hair phenomenon is a consequence of her being a baby, or whether it would work for me too? Will there come a time when her hair does become greasy and we have to resort to shampoo? I have mixed feelings about taking the no 'poo route with my own hair. I like the idea of saving money but on the other hand I take quite a lot of pleasure in shopping for a really yummy smelling shampoo and conditioner every few months.

Even if I don't wean myself off shampoo, I'm still keen to keep my baby product-free and I will try bicarbonate of soda-based concoctions if they become necessary. I'd love to hear of anyone else's experiences of keeping their babies shampoo-free.

On a slightly different but related point, does anyone have any good remedies for baby eczema? Despite our avoidance of soap and a daily slathering with aqueous cream, Cave Baby still has patches of red itchy skin. I have used hydrocortisone cream which does sort the problem out temporarily, but the eczema just returns when I discontinue using it.

For anyone interested in reading more about No 'Poo, there are loads of bloggers out there who have written about it but I can particularly recall Top Hat's no 'poo chronicles. And the post that inspired me to write this one was Joe's on here new blog Slightly Frugal. Sometimes Hippie. Always Busy.

Enjoy reading and please tell me if you've any advice for me.


macondo mama said...

About the eczema, I put oatmeal in my monkey's bath, or make a paste of oatmeal and warm water and put it on. It's not preventive, just soothing. I haven't figured out the preventive thing yet either.

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

We use a "natural" shampoo on Kieran about once every 2 months, but I agree with you - I don't think he needs it. I've been thinking of going no 'poo, but I'm scared b/c my hair has always been pretty greasy.

Jenny said...

I haven't tried it, but today there was a recipe for making your own eczema moisturizer on Craftzine:

I do no-poo and love it. My hair is coarse and when I use shampoo it's really frizzy. After months of trying this and that for my particular hair, I've gotten it down to using a couple of tablespoons of baking soda mixed with a cup or so of water and several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup or so of water. I don't put the ACV on my roots--apparently that can make it oily faster. I just do that on the ends. It has allowed me to go longer between washes, and once when I did go back to using shampoo, it felt gummy and wrong. It's not without its challenges, but overall I like no-poo! I still use conditioner sometimes, particularly on the ends. About the yummy-smelling shampoo, sometimes I do miss it, but I've made up for that by buying myself some yummy-smelling handmade soap for the shower. Also, I've really wanted to learn to make my own chemical-free perfume with essential oils/herbs but haven't gotten around to finding a recipe yet.

TopHat said...

I actually did a No Poo update today! It's been a whole year since I've regularly used shampoo! Crazy!

Earthenwitch said...

I've recently been flirting with no 'poo - so far, it's working well. Bicarbonate of soda dissolved in a spot of water, rubbed into the scalp and followed up by a rinse of apple cider vinegar, water and essential oils (normally geranium, just because I can) seems to work very well indeed, and I can go far longer between washes than I could when using shampoo, plus my hair actually looks nicer to boot. Basically, what Jenny said. :)

I started from the same point you've reached, i.e. the baby hair conundrum.

Re baby eczema - I find the Weleda calendula baby lotion works quite well at clearing up the odd patch. Don't know if you're ever going to get it to Just Go Away, but that works well for us at treating it when it does rear its ugly head.

Kat said...

Very tempting to go no poo! As for eczema, some folks have really raved about this natural cream from Shea Alchemy: I've used it on myself and it does soothe and clear skin irritations. Good luck x

Lisa C said...

Funny I read this right after Top Hat's no poo update. And I was thinking about writing a related post myself.

Michael is 22 months old and I only used baby wash on his hair a few times to help get rid of cradle cap when he was newborn. And I used baking soda once since then. He has beautiful hair and it smells so sweet. I make sure to brush his hair every day for the scalp stimulation. The only product we use on him is hand soap for his hands.

I imagine that once puberty sets in he might have to do a little more to get clean, like an occasional baking soda wash or something. It's not like shampoo has always been in existence, so surely no 'poo is the natural thing to do, and I don't believe that being "natural" would be "dirty". Anyway, I want to do no poo because my hair hates shampoo, but when I tried it before it didn't work out. I'll have to try again sometime.

Betsy B. Honest said...

Does the eczema go away if you eat more fish and/or take essential fatty acid supplements? That always worked for my girls.

I don't use much poo either. I've always kept my hair loverly by not over-washing it. That's my theory anyway.

Growing up we'd go for months at a time between hair washings. Sounds gross but we'd swim in a lake every single day. Our hair and skin was lovely.

Liz said...

My 2 kids use shampoo maybe once or twice a year. They do occasionally wash their hair with just water, but at 5 and 7 their hair is gorgeous and soft and fluffy.

It inspired me to go no poo this year. Since 1st jan I ahven't used any kind of product on my hair - not even bicarb or vinegar. It was horrible and greasy for around 8 weeks, then started getting better. Now, the new roots coming through are lovely and soft and the rest will do, though not as lovely as the kids' so far. It has a different texture. My hair is fine and was prone to static and bieng limp, now it's full of body. Occasionally it feels rather greasy to touch but it doesn't look it.

In my experience the type of water you have affects this experiment. We have some of the hardest water in the country where we live and that seems to affect it. Here, it's better if I don't get it wet. Whereas, when we stay in areas with softer water, my hair looks lovely just for rinsing in water.

Ihave to say though, it has been liberating not to bother buying shampoo and my hair doesn't vary in look from day to day as much as it used to. I would recommend it as an experiment.

I wonder what would happen if the hair was cut short, then no poo. I reckon it would adapt well and grow through soft.

Cave Mother said...

I'm really amazed at how many people have given up shampoo. It really makes me ant to give it a go. I love Liz's idea of using nothing on it whatsoever, but I think I am too vain to go the eight weeks that it might take for it to look decent. But a bicarb mix sounds OK.

Jenny - Thanks for the link. I looked at the cream instructions. They are pretty hardcore. You've got to be sure it's going to work if you're going to invest in shea butter, tamanu oil etc.

Betsy - I had never thought of a diet connection but come to think of it, we don't eat a lot of oily fish. My daughter wouldn't accept a supplement by spoon but I wonder if I take supplements then she might get the benefit via my milk. I think it's worth a try.

ecoMILF said...

My hair is so long and naturally oily I can't imagine ot washing it. I only shampoo once every 4 days but could never go without. No sure when babies start needing a proper shampoo. I throw some natural shampoo in my little one's hair about once a week just to make it smell fresh and get some of the natural grease out, as he has very thin hair already. As for eczema- I have found pure goat's milk soaps and lotions to be very gentle and effective and have heard similar success stories from many people. Good luck. xo m.

Julie said...

hi, just found your blog, and saw this post. We are no poo on our kids (age 6 and 2) and they've never smelt anything other than gorgeous, and never needed it either. If they are really really muddy, I'll resort to using my hair/body shampoo bar from Pure Nuff Stuff, which is lovely btw. My boy gets excema quite badly - we're currently trying removing dairy and wheat from his diet and it does seem to be improving things, so you might want to consider watching her diet particuarly as it widens over the next year or so, and see if anything triggers it (sadly for the boy, chocolate does too, although that might be the dairy again). On his skin we use Neutrogena Dermatological Cream which works a dream and really clears it up and then an application every other day keeps it at bay - otherwise he'd have to be having steroid cream. It's got some ingredients that aren't top of my chart, but I've not found anything else to work as well, so for me it's a balancing between being all natural/herbal and finding something that stops the itching/discomfort for him.

Dr Sarah said...

Realistically, nothing is going to get rid of the eczema once and for all - whatever you try, you're likely to have to keep using regularly until she grows out of it (which she may well do). So I wouldn't go searching for the once-and-for-all solution, because it won't exist. That said, the good news is that things can improve a great deal with a decent moisturising cream. The suggestions people gave you for creams will work perfectly well, but you can save a lot of money simply by getting a prescription moisturiser from your doctor, which will also work perfectly well. E45 is a good one but sometimes people react to the lanolin. Diprobase is an alternative. Epaderm and Aveeno seem, on an anecdotal basis, to be successful in some cases where other creams weren't working. Some people also feel that an emollient in the bathwater can help, although do be careful as it can make the bath extra slippery. And try using the aqueous cream instead of soap, as that avoids the drying effects of soap.

Cave Mother said...

Dr Sarah - thanks for the advice. We actually have the bath oil (from a previous prescription) but gave up using it because it stung her eyes and made baths unpleasant. We don't use any cleaning products other than water on her skin.

She's never reacted to the lanolin in nipple cream so I'd imagine she'd be OK with E45. I didn't know it was any more effective than aqueous so I might pop to the GP and get a prescription.

I lived on E45 when I was a child. I remember trying to buy it in France using my best french: vous avez du creme E quarante cinq?

Julesz said...

For the eczema, try eliminating dairy from your (if you are nursing) and your baby's diet. Many people I know have done that and the eczema disappears completely - and returns only when they try dairy again.

As for no 'poo - I love it. Have used it forever with my 5 year old (first going without any product at all and moving into baking soda and vinegar when she was 3 1/2 and having used the latter for myself for about 3 years.


mama p. said...

Oat baths are meant to be soothing
Aloe may also help- check out whether it's ok for littleys. I have really sensitive skin and I think it's great. Holland and Barratt have a range.

My dad worked for a cosmetics company who produce johnson and johnsons
He told me to never buy their products are they use petrol derivatives in their ingredients

We rarely used shampoo etc anyway
It gives the bean a bumpy rash and made his cradle cap really bad when he was diddy

(Love your blog!)

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