Friday, March 14, 2008

Why does my baby have a diaper rash?

Some less commonly known reasons for a diaper rash, and some solutions

1. Your baby is having a reaction to perfumed chemical-laden disposable diapers. If you don't want to switch to cloth, then try Tushie's brand disposable, which don't have the gross gel beads, any perfumes, dyes, or bleach. Seventh Generation diapers may work too, but they still have the gel beads, which I tend to think are not healthy.

2. Your baby is teething. During teething God designed the body to change the pH, making the teeth easier to push through. You may notice your baby also has a little rash around his or her mouth, indicating that his saliva also is a bit more acidic. Frequent changes and washes with a wet wash cloth will help, and after washing you can also coat the baby's bum with a diaper ointment like Burt's Bees Zinc Oxide to keep the urine from irritating baby's delicate skin.

3. Baby is sensitive to something he just started eating. Citrus (oranges, orange juice, etc) is a common culprit, as are tomatoes. Think about what baby recently started eating, or has been eating a lot of and try cutting that out of his diet.

4. Baby is sensitive to polyester, commonly found in 'wicking fabric' in modern cloth diapers such as FuzziBunz. Buy some inexpensive CPFs (Chinese Prefolds) from an online retailer (Not a department store! The Target and Walmart Prefolds by gerber contain polyester which a. doesn't absorb squat and b. baby would still be sensitive to) and see if the rash clears up. We had some beautiful used work-at-home-mom made diapers that had a 'microfiber liner' that gave my baby a rash every time she would pee :( Very sad. I finally figured out that it was the diapers, not anything else and switched to only cotton interiors. Easy all-in-one diapers with cotton interiors are also sold here.

5. Baby is sensitive to detergents. Unknown to most, 'Free and Clear' detergents are designed to clear the laundry of allergy-causing dust mites, and are not 'clear' of potential allergens. They contain enzymes that babies are often sensitive to. Switch to a natural detergent like Seventh Generation, or, in a pinch, use a natural baby shampoo- just a squirt- to clean baby's clothes and diapers.

6. There is buildup on your diapers. A double wash on hot/hot (turn off the cold water coming into your machine if you don't have a hot/hot cycle and run it on warm/warm). This can be caused by using fabric softener (a no-no for babies due to it's allergy potential and chemicals) or diaper cream. Washing on hot/hot with a quirt of hand dishwashing liquid (like Dawn or Joy or anything) should get rid of the detergent buildup. If you have very soft water, you may need to use 1/4 the amount of detergent always, and run an extra rinse on your laundry.


One of the best solutions for chronic diaper rash is to let your baby's bum breathe each day. Perhaps during 'tummy time' allow him to be on a blanket on the floor in the nude to get fresh air to his diaper area.

If you want to use cream, and sometimes bad rashes demand something more than air-time, I recommend Burt's Bee's natural ointment. It is zinc oxide based like Desitin, but doesn't contain fish oil that makes your baby smell icky and can be an allergen. A&D can be okay, but it does contain mineral oil, which is controversial. Plain coconut oil is antibacterial, as is vitamin E oil (just buy capsules in the vitimin section and break them open and spread around).


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