Last updated: August 29, 2017
Johnson & Johnson has hit the news yet again, this time with having to pay $417 million for not adequately warning users of the cancer risks of talc in its baby powder. In 2016, they had to pay $72 million in damages to an Alabama woman (now sadly deceased) who claimed the company’s baby talcum powder and other products caused her ovarian cancer. But wait, Johnson’s baby powder is regularly added to baby registries because it’s just part of the diaper changing process, right? No, we’re here to change your thoughts on this very, very important topic.
What is talc?
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral found in baby powders. Its main job is to reduce moisture, therefore reducing diaper rashes. But, the fine particles can be harmful if your baby breathes them in. Pediatricians began discouraging it for health reasons as far back as 1985 (read the archive here). The main ingredient/culprit (talc) has not changed since then. In addition, talc in its natural form may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. The FDA does not allow talc-based products to contain any asbestos. However, these products don’t have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA, so there’s no guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated. So, can “asbestos-free” talc cause ovarian cancer? It’s unclear, but as we continue to say, why would you ever take the risk, especially with your baby? Honestly, we can’t believe this stuff is still on the market.
What about cornstarch?
Cornstarch is a popular alternative to talc-based baby powders. Its particles are larger but can still be inhaled, which can be problematic for infants. Honestly, we’re not big fans of cornstarch either. If your baby has a yeast rash, it will thrive on cornstarch since starch is a complex sugar. So what can you use while changing your baby’s diaper?
Prevent diaper rashes with our free, non-toxic, powder-free way:
- When you remove the dirty diaper, it’s best to have an absorbent layer underneath, just in case (we love these super-absorbent prefolds). We also always put the clean diaper directly underneath.
- Thoroughly wipe and clean soiled area with a homemade or nontoxic wipe. (Our favorite disposable wipes are WaterWipes.)
- Now here’s the trick to preventing diaper rash: dry the area very, very well. Use a clean, dry homemade wipe to pat dry and blow. Then pat dry again. Then blow. Make sure the entire area is very dry before the next step, so moisture isn’t trapped in (the cause of most diaper rashes). TIP: if using WaterWipes, just throw them into the wash with your cloth diapers and dry; these are perfect for reusing as a dry wipe.
- Apply a nontoxic moisturizer for rash prevention. Our favorites: a thin layer of unrefined virgin organic coconut oil or Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm (both cloth-diaper friendly).
- Enjoy this time with your little one. This is a chance for you to connect.
Whatever your diaper changing routine is, please please please don’t add any talc-based powder to it. Your baby will thank you.
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