APR – 15: COVER STORY
Is that baby product really necessary?
There is a booming market in products meant for babies and toddlers. In fact, there are many â€˜babyâ€™ and â€˜kidâ€™ versions of products, such as shampoo and toothpaste, often available at a higher price. In addition, there are specific products meant for babies, like infant formula, and for kids, like milk additives. While some products are necessary, others are pure marketing spin.
Parents should bear in mind that just because a product is marketed specifically for children it doesnâ€™t mean your child needs it. It can be difficult for parents to tell which products are worth the extra expense and which are not. Marketing hype could convince parents that these products are a â€œmust haveâ€ when in fact, they are not, says Ms Pritee Shah, Chief General Manager, CERC.
Research conducted by CERC and its partner organisation CHOICE, Australia has resulted in some insightful disclosures.
Toothpaste: Babies donâ€™t need toothpaste, not until they are 18 months old. Kids under the age of six years need toothpaste with less fluoride. The Indian Dental Association (IDA) recommends that children should use only a â€œpea-sizedâ€ amount of toothpaste until their milk teeth give way to permanent teeth.
Toothbrushes: Once babies start sprouting teeth (usually from six months), it is a good idea to start getting them used to a small toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles which will not abrade the tooth enamel or harm the gum tissues.
Shampoos: Baby shampoos contain less detergent and milder formulae. They are less likely to cause irritation or sting delicate eyes and dry out hair and skin. But even these shampoos should not be over-used.
Moisturisers and body wash: Unless a baby or toddler suffers from a skin condition, skin care should be very simple. For babies simple bath oil is more than enough and for toddlers, a soap-free wash can be added. If needed, a fragrance-free moisturiser can be applied while the skin is still moist. Brands claiming to be natural or herbal may contain a number of essential oils that can be irritating and cause allergies.
Baby wipes: The main ingredient in most baby wipes is alcohol which does have some antibacterial properties though it doesn’t kill all bacteria or viruses. Baby wipes can be used during travel or outings. They may cause allergies or rashes.
Baby talc: Baby powder is an astringent powder used for preventing diaper rash, as a deodorant, or for other cosmetic uses. Talcum powder is harmful if inhaled since it may cause aspiration pneumonia or granuloma. Use baby powders which are based on non-talcum ingredients, like corn starch.
Sunscreen: You do not need a special sunscreen for kids and there is little evidence to suggest that there is safety issue with most sunscreen ingredients. Itâ€™s recommended that babies younger than six months are better kept out of the sun entirely using hats and shades.
Infant formula: Infant formulas such as Farex and Cerelac are designed to be a breast milk substitute. They vary in nutrients, calorie count, taste, ability to be digested and cost. These products are convenient and ready to use. But they should only be used while travelling when fresh home-made food is not available, advise pediatricians.
Milk additives: Some children are fussy eaters and donâ€™t get the required level of nutrients. But additives like Bournvita, Horlicks and Complan are an expensive way of providing nutrients. Also, additives cannot be a substitute for the nutrition got from a balanced meal. They basically add to the taste of milk and should be used for that purpose only.