The Minimalist Approach to 3 Common Baby Items

In college, I didn’t pay much attention to what I put in or on my body, but becoming a mom has made me look at many things a lot differently. The last year I have been paying a lot more attention to the food we eat and the brands we use. I am continuing my quest to live as naturally as possible, while still understanding that moderation is okay. I have adjusted my beauty routine, changed my lunch habits, and become more aware of the products I buy.

Having so much information at our fingertips is as much a blessing as it is a curse. These days it is incredibly hard to know which products are good, which ones are dangerous and which ones are an absolute necessity or not. With all that is out there, how do we know what is opinion and what is fact? Do we trust our doctors because it is their profession or do we trust our mothers, sisters and friends who share the same experiences and stories as us?

I understand that every child is different and not everything is going to work the same way for everyone, but in both my experience as an infant/toddler teacher and my personal experiences with my own toddler, I have come to the realization that most infants and toddlers don’t need these three items every time or all the time. Instead of reaching for these popular products right away (many of which have controversial ingredients), I have learned to try more natural approaches first.


1. Sunscreen

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What a debated product these days!

I am not a lotion person and never really have been. I don’t like how it feels on my hands afterwards and I always end up washing it off.  My least favorite part of working with infants and toddlers during the summer is slathering sunscreen on them every single time we go outside.

I’ve never been a daily sunscreen user. Even growing up I remember my parents only putting it on when we were camping and outside all day, or by the pool or on the beach for hours. It was never something we put on everyday or every time we went outside.

My opinion about sunscreen continued to change after reading this article about a year ago or so. Yes, sunscreen protects us from harmful UV Rays and that is extremely important, but it also blocks out many nutrients that our bodies need, especially vitamin D. My doctor even told me to give Qwynn vitamin D supplements while I was breastfeeding her because there is such a deficiency. Last week I read another article that further supported my decision to use sunscreen in moderation.  It had a lot of good information about how our bodies use the sun and alternative ways to protect your skin.

I am fortunate that I don’t burn easily, but I understand everyone’s skin is different and young children definitely have more sensitive skin. If we are spending the day at the beach or hours by the pool during the sunniest time of the day, I am of course going to protect my daughter’s skin. But when she’s just getting 20-30 minutes of sun here and there, why miss out on all those important nutrients!

This means, Qwynn doesn’t get sunscreen at school. And she is one of the few kids in school that doesn’t. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry about this. Am I wrong in my opinion if I’m the only one not doing it? I’d prefer to think that, like most parents, I am just trying to do the best that I can do for my family with the information that I have at hand.

My reasoning for not having Qwynn’s teachers lather her up in sunscreen everyday is as follows—First of all, when Qwynn goes outside at school it is often before noon or after 3:30pm, so she is not normally outside durning those peak sun hours. Plus, her class is rarely outside for longer than 30-45 minutes at a time and the kids are usually moving in and out of the shade. I also make sure to send a hat to school and a bathing suit with sleeves. Sure, I would love to buy her cute little tankini swim suits (who wouldn’t?), but I figure that Qwynn has her whole adolescence to wear cute little bathing suits. For now, I’ll take the guaranteed-to-be-safe sleeves, over the controversial sunscreen.

 

2. Infant/Children’s Motrin and Tylenol

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I rarely take any medicine when I’m sick. Maybe an Ibprofen here or there if I have a really bad headache or cramps. I never really hesitated giving Qwynn Motrin or Tylenol when she was really young, but I always tried to buy the one’s that didn’t have artificial flavoring, dyes or other fillers.

When she was getting her first set of molars, I felt like she had a fever every other week and they would last for days. Her doctor even suggested that I piggyback Motrin and Tylenol (which I reluctantly did for a couple days), but the fever always seemed to come back and I got nervous about giving Qwynn so much medicine in what seemed like such a short amount of time.

I started researching teething, fevers, and natural remedies, and my perception of fevers started to change after I read this article. I learned that fevers aren’t always a bad thing and it is actually just your body’s natural way of fighting something off. When Qwynn was about 17 months old, I experienced just what this article was talking about.

We were in California for the Stanley Cup Finals last June and Qwynn woke up from a nap with a 104 fever.  I couldn’t believe that the fever was back! We were definitely worried, but I didn’t want to pull out the Motrin just yet. We had spent a couple hours on the beach that morning and had lunch in the sun on the pier, so I thought those things might be contributing factors to the high number.

We decided to forgo the medicine for the time being and instead walked to dinner (getting Qwynn some cool fresh air), and grabbed a yogurt and smoothie on the way to the restaurant. Qwynn started to perk up halfway through the smoothie and when we took her temp back at the hotel a few hours later, her fever had gone down to 101. The next morning her fever was gone!

This experience completely changed my perception of fevers. I just couldn’t believe that Qwynn’s temperature had gone down a whole 3 degrees in just a few short hours just by cooling down the inside and outside of her body. From then on, I have chosen to try natural methods (i.e. cold washcloths, teethers, popsicles, etc.) before reaching into the medicine cabinet. I’m not saying that I don’t keep a bottle of Children’s Motrin around “just in case,” or that I will never give it to Qwynn again, but as long as she is healthy enough and comfortable enough to fight off any fevers or pain naturally, I will leave the medicine where it is.

 

3. Diaper Cream:

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I bought diaper cream when Qwynn was first born because I thought I was supposed to. I did pay attention to the brand I bought, choosing a more “natural’ one, but I never used it with her on a daily basis and only applied it a few times when she was really young. Even then I always hesitated because the best way to prevent or heal a diaper rash is to keep it dry. So applying a moist cream just never made sense to me.

The last two diaper rashes Qwynn had were healed in two days without using any diaper cream or ointment. First, I made sure the area was completely clean. I know it is absolute torture listening to a baby or toddler scream as you wipe their raw bottom, but if you don’t remove absolutely everything, then the area will take so much longer to heal and may even get worse. This is another reason I avoid using diaper cream for a rash. It takes twice as long to get the area completely clean when there is a thick layer of cream that you have to wipe off too.

I also made sure to keep the area as dry as possible at all times. I changed Qwynn’s diaper more often and constantly check for BM’s. I let her bottom air out as much as possible by letting her go diaper-less for 10-15 minutes here and there. I would put a towel on her chair while she ate or on the hardwood floor while she was playing with her toys to prevent too much of a mess.

I know it seems so much easier to just throw on some cream and go, but I feel like it’s better in the long run for your body to learn to heal on its own rather than always relying on creams, ointments and medicines. I have seen a lot of bad diaper rashes in my years and I get that all babies are different, so if they are completely uncomfortable and in pain, you use whatever will make them feel better. For now though, as long as my daughter isn’t absolutely miserable, I choose air over cream.


Valerie Anne

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