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Herbal Baby Care

Herbs are natural, but not all of them are appropriate for your sensitive baby. Learn which herbs are good for baby care and how to use them in baby shampoos, baby baths, baby oils and baby balms.

Good herbs for baby products are those that are non-toxic, non-irritating and gentle:
Calendula flowers: soothing, astringent; good for salves, lotions and oils
Chamomile flowers: calming, soothing, cleansing; good for salves, baths, room sprays, lotions and oils, powders, shampoos
Elder flowers: soothing; good for salves, powders
Lavender flowers: relaxing, cleansing, soothing; good for salves, powder, baths, shampoos
Rose flowers and petals: soothing, astringent; good for powders, baths, massage oils
Yarrow: soothing, astringent; good for salves

Hair Care

Shampoo: Whether your baby has a head of thick locks or just a bit of peach fuzz, you’ll want to use a pure, mild shampoo to cleanse her hair and scalp. To include herbs, simply add a tablespoon or two of an herbal tea infusion to a pure liquid castile soap.

Cradle Cap: Cradle cap isn’t pretty, but it won’t hurt your baby. You can help coax the flakes away by rubbing a small amount of herbal baby oil onto your baby’s scalp. Leave the oil on your baby’s scalp for about 15 minutes, then gently comb out the loose flakes with a soft baby brush. Follow by washing well with an herbal baby shampoo.

Skin Care

Balms: Your baby’s skin is undeniably delicate. If you find an area that looks irritated, a balm can be very comforting. To make a simple balm, combine an herbal oil infusion with enough beeswax to help solidify it.

Baby Bottom Balm

Use this special blend to protect baby’s bottom from diaper rash and to moisturize and soothe other delicate or irritated areas.

Lavender2 cups of a light, natural vegetable oil (almond or apricot work well)
1/3 cup calendula flowers
1/3 cup chamomile flowers
1/3 cup elder flowers
1/3 cup lavender flowers
2/3 cup beeswax
1/3 teaspoon liquid lanolin

Make an infusion of the herbs and oil, then strain and cool. Rewarm the oil, then add the beeswax and lanolin. Stir until melted, then remove from heat and pour into clean jars.

Baby Powder

Here’s a talc-free blend that you’ll want to use after your bath, too! The arrowroot or cornstarch dries and smoothes, while the herbs comfort and scent. (By the way, while arrowroot and cornstarch are safe ingredients, as with any powders, small particles are dangerous for your baby to inhale. So always shake baby powder into your hand, away from your baby, and then pat it on him. And keep the jar away from your baby’s reach.)

1 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
1 tablespoon ground chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon ground elder flower
1 tablespoon ground lavender flowers

Mix all ingredients together. Place in a jar, cover, and let sit for several days, allowing scents to meld. (A large shaker top for your jar will be handy when it’s ready to use.)

Baby Bath

Most babies love bath time. Use herbs to enhance the daily ritual. This milk bath is especially soothing.

1 cup cornstarch
1 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoon rose petals
2 tablespoon lavender flowers

Combine all ingredients and store in a clean jar with a lid. Shake and add about a quarter cup to your baby’s bathwater.

chamomile flowerBaby Oil

Use a natural vegetable oil that’s infused with soothing herbs to massage your baby, to loosen cradle cap, or to moisturize an area of his skin that seems particularly dry.

1 cup light natural vegetable oil (such as sweet almond or apricot)
1 tablespoon chamomile flowers
1 tablespoon calendula flowers

Make an infusion of the oil and herbs, cool, strain, and place in a clean jar.

Ask the Experts

What’s the easiest way to make an herbal infusion to use in these baby care recipes?

When a recipe calls for an herbal oil infusion, the easiest method is to combine the oil and the herbs in a crockpot on the lowest setting for about 4 hours (5 or 6 hours for roots). You can also heat the herbs in a double boiler on the stove for the same amount of time (taking care not to scorch them), or even in a jar in the sun or near another heat source (though this will take several days). To make an herbal tea infusion, simply pour boiling water over the herbs; simmer for one minute; turn off the heat, cover, and steep for about 20 minutes. Strain and cool.

Is an herbal sleep pillow a good idea for baby?

An herbal sleep pillow—stuffed with soothing herbs like lavender and chamomile— might be just the ticket to a good night’s sleep for baby. There’s a hitch, though. Experts now recommend that you never put a pillow of any kind in with your sleeping baby. That’s because pillows (and bumper pads and fluffy blankets, etc.) all increase the risk of SIDS. You could still make a pillow and tuck it next to your baby as you nurse her or rock her to sleep, though.

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