There is a booming market in products tailored for babies and toddlers – but most of these are unnecessary

There are versions of products, from hair oil to sunscreen. While some products are necessary, others are pure marketing spin many “baby” and “kids”

Ahmedabad, May 08, 2012:

Baby Products

Raising a baby in this era is indeed a challenging task. Interestingly this challenge comes from not the dearth but the variety of options available today for baby / kids products. As parents and kids are bombarded with advertisements promoting these products, it is natural for parents to feel overwhelmed and confused about which products their kids really need and which are inessential.

“Browsing through the supermarket section one would find a huge array of baby products ranging from body lotion, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, milk supplements to talcum powder. For almost every adult product in the personal care department there’s invariably a “baby” or “child” version available, often at a price premium. While some are appealing, it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth the extra expense and which ones should be left untouched. And with the amount of marketing hype, guilty parents could be convinced that these products are a “must have” when in fact, they are not.” says Ms. Pritee Shah, Chief General Manager, Consumer Education & Research Center (CERC).

This important revelation comes from the research conducted by CERC & its partner organisation CHOICE, Australia. The research has resulted in some insightful disclosures which all parents would find valuable.

Baby Toothpaste: Infants don’t need toothpaste, not until they are about 18 months old. Kids under the age of six years need toothpaste with less fluoride as too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, a condition where the teeth’s enamel surface appears mottled. Children’s toothpaste contains considerably less fluoride than the adult version and hence Children Toothpaste is a sensible buy – but again not a must-have. Most dental fluorosis is very mild and doesn’t damage teeth, and occurs only during tooth development in early childhood so older children and adults aren’t at risk. Both Indian and Australian Dental Associations recommend using only a ‘pea-sized’ amount of toothpaste until children’s milk teeth give way to permanent teeth.

Once a baby starts sprouting teeth (usually from six months), it is a good idea to start getting them used to a small toothbrush but, according to the IDA recommendations, toothpaste is not necessary for infants. The babies’ little mouths need little toothbrushes that are easy to hold and are small headed. They must have soft bristles so as not to abrade the tooth enamel or harm the gum tissues.

Shampoos, Moisturisers and Body Wash
When it comes to your baby’s grooming needs, less is best. Forget the overly fragrant lotions, shampoos, and soaps. Once you get a whiff of that sweet new-baby scent, you’ll realize there’s no need to mask it. A gentle baby wash will do for now.

Baby shampoos contain less detergent as they do not require to be very harsh and are not intended to wash off styling products that only adults use. These are less likely to cause irritation when washing hair. Experts at CHOICE say parents should opt for a baby-specific shampoo as these tend to have milder, lower-foaming formulae that are designed to not burn or sting the delicate eyes. Baby shampoos are also often free of frothing agents and such agents can dry out hair and skin. But even these shampoos should not be over-used. Scalps produce very little oil until puberty so it is not necessary to wash children’s hair very often.

Unless a baby or toddler suffers with a skin condition, such as eczema or dermatitis, 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.

Some brands also claim to be natural or herbal. Experts go on to say that “natural” or “organic” products aren’t necessarily better than a synthetic product or any less likely to irritate. These products may contain a number of essential oils that can be irritating and allergic. And to be called “natural”, products may only contain as little as 1 per cent natural ingredients.

Baby Wipes
The main ingredient in most baby wipes is alcohol, topped with artificial fragrances and other chemicals to keep the wipes from mildewing. While alcohol does have some antibacterial properties, baby wipes won’t kill all bacteria or viruses. Baby wipes can be used during travel or outings. But use wipes that are chlorine-free to avoid any possible irritation from this chemical. There are also hypoallergenic baby wipes available for children who are prone to allergies and rashes.

Baby Talc
Baby powder is an astringent powder used for preventing diaper rash, as a deodorant, and for other cosmetic uses. Talcum powder is harmful if inhaled since it may cause aspiration pneumonia or granuloma. Pediatricians generally prefer cornstarch to talc because it is unlikely to be easily inhaled. However, if the baby inhales talcum powder, that is definitely dangerous. To be on a safer side, use baby powders which are based on non-talcum ingredients, like corn starch.

You do not need a special sunscreen for kids and there is little evidence to suggest that there is safety issue with most sunscreens’ ingredients. Sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide – physical blockers that leave white marks on the skin. However, they are often in nano particle form in sunscreens, making the product transparent but still able to block the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s recommended young babies (under six months) are better kept out of the sun entirely, especially in the middle of the day, using hats, clothes and shade. If you occasionally need to use sunscreen on babies, only apply it to small areas of skin that can’t be otherwise covered.

For babies and toddlers, CHOICE experts prefer sunscreens that contain physical blockers only and are free of chemical absorbers of UVA and UVB, fragrance and PABA. Sunscreens marketed specifically for toddlers, infants and children may simply use fewer possible irritants in the cream base.

Infant Formula
Infant formula is designed to be a breast milk substitute for babies younger than 12 months. A variety of formulas are available for infants younger than 12 months old who are not drinking breast milk.Eg. Farex, Cerelac. Infant formulas vary in nutrients, calorie count, taste, ability to be digested, and cost. “These products are good just for the convenience of being instant and ready to use. So they should be used while travelling where home-made food is not available”, says Dr. Hiral Naik, Ahmedabad-based Pediatrician. “As long as fresh, home-made food is available, do not use such products”, she advices.

Milk Additives
Additives like Bournvita li’l champs, Junior Horlicks and Complan are an expensive way of providing nutrients obtained from food. Some children are fussy eaters and thus not get the required level of nutrients. These nutrients can partly be supplied through milk additives. Nevertheless, these additives cannot be a substitute for the nutrition got from a balanced meal. These additives basically add to the taste of milk and should be used for this purpose only.

Parents should bear in mind that just because a product is marketed specifically for children it doesn’t mean your child needs it. A basic rule to follow here is, “if you don’t normally need it, there is a good chance your child doesn’t need it either”.

For further information please contact
Ms. Pritee Shah,CGM, CERC (O) 079 -27489945/46

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