Before your baby comes, you’ll want to stock up on “baby care” items, like bath products and personal care items. There are lots of little kits and a million different brands of stuff to buy. But what do you really need? What is safe for babies? How do you choose all the stuff without buying a bunch you’ll never use?
When I had my first baby, I fell for the “I need stuff!” thought. I bought lots of different kinds of baby shampoo, baby wash, baby lotion, and baby “kits” (nail clippers, combs, brushes, etc.). I really thought I’d use all this stuff.
In reality? Nope. I never used most of it. And some of those “safe” baby products I used on my daughter were not safe at all. I remember once I rubbed lotion into her skin…and watched a bright red rash appear out of nowhere! That was the last time I ever used that sort of thing on either of my babies.
With my son, I didn’t even bother to buy most of these things. I pared down my list to what I really needed. In fact…he never even got a bath for the first two weeks or so! (At all, since he was born at home.) Young babies just don’t need the junk we put on their skin. In fact, it’s better not to use all these products on brand-new, sensitive skin.
Over time, I’ve evolved new personal care routines for them that are way cheaper and way safer than the commercial alternatives. Just so you know, the personal care industry isn’t well-regulated, and even in gentle “baby” formulas, there can be some pretty scary ingredients. The only brand I’ll use on my kids if I have to buy is Burt’s Bees Baby Wash. (Johnson & Johnson once gave my son cradle cap!)
Anyway, here is what you really need:
1. Wash cloths — They don’t have to be baby wash cloths, although a few of those are nice when they’re still so little.
2. Towels — Not the baby ones; just the regular ones you use. Fold one up in fourths and lay it down on a counter to give baby a sponge bath. It’s a lot safer and more comfortable for them in the early weeks.
3. Cotton balls — To wipe their faces and eyes during a bath. Cotton pads are nice for their bottoms, although wash cloths work just as well.
4. Warm water — They really don’t need soap. Their skin is so delicate that using soap will contribute to the natural dryness that happens when they’re exposed to air in the early week s (vs. floating in the amniotic fluid).
5. Baking soda — Okay, it sounds weird. But if they have hair, sprinkle a little onto their heads (once you’ve gotten their hair wet) and gently rub it in. Then rinse it away. This is still all I use on my kids…and myself, actually. Bonus: it’s naturally tear-free.
6. Castile soap — On the rare occasions you might need a soap, a nice oil-based castile soap is very safe. Dr. Bronner’s makes an unscented “baby mild” version that is great to use, as well as a “lavender” scent (made with essential oils). That’s my choice for my older kids.
7. A wide-toothed comb — They don’t need their hair brushed at all until they actually have some. But, mine were both born with long, thick hair. A wide-toothed comb keeps the hair gently neat without too many tangles. Honestly, I didn’t really use a comb on either of my babies for the first year, and still don’t always on my son (his hair’s thick, but it’s straight and short). I use my own brush on my daughter’s hair now (it’s long and curly and a pain…she keeps begging me to just cut it off now).
8. Baby nail clippers — You will need these. Baby nails are thin but very sharp, and they can easily scratch themselves. Some babies are even born with rather long nails and need them clipped almost immediately! If the nail clippers make you nervous, you can try to bite or tear the nails off (I’ve done all of these things, but the clippers were fastest for me, and I don’t think I’ve ever cut a baby).
That’s really about it. The extra brushes, nail files, medicine syringes, etc. in those kits are not really necessary. If you actually give your baby medicine for any reason you may need a syringe (the oral ones), but that’s more of a “cross that bridge if you come to it” kind of thing. They’re cheaper to buy individually if you do need them anyway.
What’s on your ‘necessary baby items’ list for personal care?
Top image by Jessicafm
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