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By Karabo Motsiri Mokoena

Writer. Conversationalist. South African Mommy Blogger,Content Producer

Do you know what evil may lurk in the baby products you use?

The asbestos in talc-based baby powder can lead to respiratory problems and even cancer.

A while back I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is also a first-time mom and runs Eco Mom SA, a baby brand that trades in organic baby products.

Our conversation centred on how unaware we were as parents about the composition of the products we use on our kids every day. As a first-time mom, I just went with the flow of what I thought was best. Market presence is important to me, so the more familiar I was with a product, the more likely I was to use it.

I then started buying baby products without thinking twice. I did not care much about what was inside those products. If three different generations in my family trusted a particular brand, I was more likely to trust it too.

This was until I came across the concept of organic baby products, a concept my conversation with Eco Mom SA was based on.

I wanted to understand why she was so passionate about using organic and chemical-free products. She said she started her business after realising that some conventional baby products contained unnecessary and harmful chemicals.

The reason we are unaware of this is that we trust brands that have been around for decades and rarely question what is in their products.

Did you know that baby powder is a talc-based powder that can potentially lead to cancer and other illnesses? It can also lead to some breathing and long-term lung issues. I had to lift my jaw off the floor after doing some research.

Moms use baby powder to keep their babies’ skin dry and avoid perspiration. I, for one, use baby powder because I grew up around parents who used it on their children and it left me with the assumption that it was an essential part of a child’s bath-time routine. I also like how my baby smells after I put on the powder.

But the risk of asbestos found in the talc used in some baby powders remains. Asbestos causes serious respiratory issues, including scarring of lung tissue when inhaled regularly.

A big international baby powder producer is currently being dragged to court in the US because they falsely claimed their baby powder was asbestos-free. Research was conducted and it was found their talc had not contained any asbestos since 1957. Another piece of research, however, found this to be false.

The same goes for baby oil, which is made of mineral oil. Mineral oil is not meant to be in contact with human skin, particularly the sensitive skin of a newborn baby.

Mineral oil is the secondary product or distillation of petroleum. Yes, petrol. So what does it do to our skin?

It creates a second layer of skin and inevitably blocks the pores, preventing skin from functioning as it should. This means the toxins that are supposed to be released from the body through the pores remain in the body for longer than they should.

Can you imagine what would happen if your child ingested baby oil?

As a result, some of the manufacturers now package the product in baby-proof containers.

Like baby powder, I had often seen other parents buying and using baby oil on their babies, and understood this to be a norm in this new world of parenting.

Here is the trick I learnt for purchasing baby products: If it is harmful when a baby digests it, then it is more likely also dangerous to use on its body.

What is the purpose of baby oil?

Adverts tell you that the oil moisturises the baby’s skin more effectively than a normal baby lotion would. They also tell of how this product locks up 10 times more moisture on the skin. So what happens to the toxins that are meant to be released through the blocked pores?

I remember how I was consumed by so much guilt after stepping back and doing some research. I confidently used these products on my daughter’s skin without thinking twice.

Which then begs the question: are we fully aware of what the ingredients are of the cream we put on our baby’s bum? Do we know what’s in the food we give them from a food pouch?

I am trying to be more conscious about what I give my baby, both internally and externally. Processed foods for babies contain chemicals that can be very harmful to them. These products are packaged in containers that contain BPA (bisphenol A), which can disrupt a child’s nervous and immune system.

Notice how some products are labelled “BPA-free” – what does that mean about products without this label? Processed foods also contain artificial food colourants, which are very harmful to children. Some products are more counterproductive due to the toxins they contain.

I am committed to continuing my research on which chemicals I should avoid when purchasing baby products. We all should as parents, our babies’ lives depend on it. My commitment is based on the decision to make more conscious decisions when making these purchases.

Parenting is not easy, and we try every day to make conscious and healthy decisions that are not harmful to the wellbeing of our little ones.

I have often come across parents that are strict about what their kids eat, touch or interact with generally. I would always regard that as some form of paranoia, but I get it now. We all just want what is best for our children.


Use natural products on babies’ skin such as coconut oil and olive oil.
Use fragrance-free products.
Serve homemade food.
Start reading the labels on the products for children.

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