Even though he’s my fourth child, there are a lot of things I worried about when my son “Silver” was born. I worried about how birth was going to go. I worried about my recovery from a c-section. I was worried about his health and if a cord issue and kidney problem we found in utero would prove to be a problem after birth. I never worried about how to care for him–and certainly had no worries about things like diapers.
One big lesson I’ve learned as a parent so far is to expect the unexpected. Just when you think you know what you’re doing–when you start to feel like an expert–life throws you small curve balls that make you go hmm. I’ve cared for three previous newborns in my lifetime, navigating everything from colic and constant spit-up to dairy sensitivities and diaper rashes. I had perfected the “change the rolling child’s diaper before it gets everywhere” and could easily triage the chaos that happens when you have three kids under 3 years old.
I didn’t expect any strange surprises this time around when we brought Silver home, certainly not with all the daily tasks like sleeping (or, really, not sleeping), breastfeeding and diapering. So, when Silver developed the most severe diaper rash I’d ever seen–at not only one week old–I was shocked.
It broke my heart. I didn’t understand why it happened. We were really good at making sure we changed his diapers quickly. We had all the products typically used to prevent diaper rashes and gave him “air it out” time. I’d seen diaper rash before. I’d seen diaper rash complicated with yeast. But I knew this was a different thing altogether.
At first, I blamed my small consumption of chocolate a few nights before. My third child, whom I exclusively breastfed, was sensitive to any dairy (casein protein) in my diet and I had cut all casein protein out of my diet while I breastfed her. I planned to do it this time, too–it’s not good for me either, the dairy–but I thought a small amount of chocolate would be good for me. I instantly felt terrible that I had done this, so I stopped all dairy.
It didn’t fix anything after about a week and his rash continued to get worse. I wondered if he just had very sensitive skin or if there was something specific that was doing this to him. I had sensitive skin as a child and though we were already using non-perfumed diapers and wipes, it clearly wasn’t enough.
It was clear his rash was bothering him. He would scream when he used the diaper and screamed all the way through his diaper change. It was easy to see, looking at it, why it caused him so much pain. It was sad! As we waited for a doctor appointment to find some guidance, we tried everything at home to see if we could see any sort of improvement on our own:
1. We changed his diaper every hour
All day and all through the night, we changed his diaper every hour to limit any exposure to moisture on his skin.
2. We upped air-out
We increased the diaper-free time each day to try to give as much air exposure as possible.
3. We used organic
We used organic castile soap plus water for his wipes and baths, hoping it would be more gentle on his skin.
4. We used scent-free corn starch
When our other kids were babies and broke out in a small diaper rash, using plain, scent-free corn starch with each diaper change worked like a charm. We were hoping that would help here, too.
5. Stopped using all creams
Our theory was to keep his skin as dry as possible to help dry out the rash so we stopped using all creams for his diaper changes.
6. We switched to cloth wipes
We started using super soft cloth wipes in place of the disposable wipes. Our hope was the added softness, the ability to use just water or the organic soap, plus being able to make sure we dried him off well would help.
7. We went up a diaper size
Although he fit way better in the newborn diapers, we switched him to a size one hoping that maybe there would be less diaper touching and more room for air.
8. We tried baking soda baths
We added baking soda to his warm baths since we read on WebMD that could aid healing if the skin is really raw, which his was.
9. We tried different diapers
Our last step we tried was changing his diapers, from the ones we loved so much with our older children to plastic-free, non-chemical, natural diapers.
Once we hit that last step, switching out the diapers from a popular name brand diaper to a natural diaper made with corn and no plastics, the improvement was so evident. We took Silver for his well-baby check (at just under 1 month old) and it was confirmed my his doctor that what he had was far worse than any typical diaper rash. She said it did look like it was a chemical burn–even after a week of healing while off those diapers.
I was really surprised the diapers caused such a bad reaction in my little man. I’d used the same diaper brand and everything when my older three kids were babies and had no issues. I loved the diapers and had no question we would use them when Silver was born, but, as the big parenting lesson goes, expect the unexpected. We’re still working to heal his skin, but finally seeing improvement, instead of slowly watching it get worse, is very comforting.