Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For Sensitive Kids, Less Is More

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.


Leaf and Acorn both have eczema, though Leaf's is far worse. We discovered this during her recent hospitalization, where the second hospital had a policy that every child be bathed every day by a nurse so they could inspect for skin issues.

The daily lathering in soap tore up her skin. She already had blisters from the EKG leads and raw spots from taping down her IVs, but the washing was just too much.

At home, we reserve soap on the kids for days when they're actually dirty - not just every day. Even us adults don't bathe every day if we haven't gotten all sweaty, because it dries out our skin too. Acorn loves playing in water, so every other day or so we let him sit in the tub, with just plain water, and let him play and splash.

They don't smell, so clearly they're just fine without so much soap. And less washing has cleared up all but the worst of Leaf's eczema spots without any other treatment.

Hair, too, gets washed less often here than most families. I have very curly hair, and curls tend to be dry at the ends because the natural scalp oils don't flow down the hair shaft so easily. While Acorn's hair is not as curly as mine, it still is super fine and somewhat curly:

5 am in the ER, but still curly, and never been cut

While I've done conditioner only routines and apple cider vinegar and baking soda routines, and currently am using solid shampoo bars....what's working for Acorn these days is just to not wash his hair that often. We wash it about as often as we soap the rest of him - maybe once a month - and adding just a tiny speck of a natural conditioner to help manage fly-aways.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)


  1. Whoa. The hospital required a nurse to bathe children every day?? That is wrong in many ways, and I can only imagine how that would have made you and your daughter feel uncomfortable :( At any rate, our family is much like yours - we don't see a need for daily bathing, or soap at every bath. Our kiddos have sensitive skin, too, so we've had to figure out a routine that does not irritate it.

  2. Rachel @ Lautaret BohemietApril 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    That totally bugs me that the hospital required such a thing for a sensitive-skinned (or any) kiddo.

    I like your less is more philosophy. Our little guy loves baths so much that he begins begging for them immediately after dinner every single night. We limit his exposure to products, but we can't keep him out of the water!

    Your kiddo is so cute in that photo.

  3. That's our practice, too — less can definitely be better! We do water-only washing for both our boys, except for a little slick soap/shampoo where we need to sneak into neck folds to clean out the muck. (This might be only a fat-baby thing, lol.)

    We also don't use those harsh soaps they have in hospitals — we had my mother-in-law visit and bring us some antibacterial soap. By the end of her visit, Mikko's skin was peeling off on his hands. It was kind of scary, but it cleared up once we stopped using the soap again. I can't imagine your poor Leaf having to be bathed in that yucky soap every day — no wonder her skin reacted poorly. :(

  4. Yup. Every day. Their argument was that it allowed for an assessment of skin condition, and was good for preventing bed sores and such....but it was already pretty clear to everyone that her skin was not happy. We'd already had wound care in to look at blisters from EKG leads and such.

  5. They were mostly sticking with baby wash type soap, not antibacterial stuff, but they were doing bed baths, which also meant it wasn't getting rinsed well, which just makes it worse. Wipe with soapy cloth, wipe with non-soapy cloth, dry with a third.

  6. If we let him, Acorn would never get out of the bath. It was a prime motivator in getting his ENT to close his trach site relatively soon after his trach was removed - a kid who loves to splash and play in the water with a wide open hole straight into his lungs is just plain dangerous.

    This weekend we're hoping to take him to a swimming pool for the first time ever, which should be quite entertaining for all of us :)

  7. I'm not convinced soap is such a great thing, either. I've heard of people going soap-free for a year -- just bathing thoroughly in water only -- and having improved skin and less body odor. I'm not brave enough to try it on myself -- but my son never gets any soap on him. No shampoo either. He smells fine, feels clean, and obviously can't react to the soap I'm not using! Fewer baths are good, too -- that disturbs the natural oils less and is less irritating, especially for super-sensitive skin.

  8. I am shocked that the hospital wasn't more sensitive (and clued into) the fact that MOST children have skin that will react to so much exposure to soap. So sorry that you had that experience. Their argument seems so backwards - that it would allow for a skin assessment? I would think that letting the skin alone and allowing it to do its own thing would be a more true assessment of a real reaction rather than one based on exposure.
    Shampoo bars! I haven't thought about those in quite some time, that might be a good idea for Aodhan if we decide to move away from the apple cider and baking soda.

  9. We're in the same boat and use soap very sparingly. I noticed that when we go visit the grandparents and they get lots of baths (my mom's favorite thing to do with them) their skin completely dries out.

    It's amazing to me that the hospital wouldn't connect skin conditions with every day bathing, especially given the stuff they use! :(

  10. Yay! Someone else who doesn't suds up every night! My boys bathe every night as a part of their routine, but no soap. No shampoo. My youngest boy's hair looks just like your's and I use a little coconut oil to detangle.

  11. Our son and I have eczema, we only bathe him when he's dirty too. And I generally only shower on weekends if I'm dirty myself, especially if it's dry out.

  12. Once per month? That is awesome! We take family showers once or twice per week, but don't soap up the kids every time. Perhaps we could go even longer than we do. When we DO soap up, I like to mostly stick to the "hot spots." I don't see much need for elbows to be washed with soap, ya know? Butt cracks, on the other hand... lol

  13. Ursula Ciller
    Less soap is the way to go. I love water and have to shower every day (even icy cold if no hot water) and don't use soap on my little one (always a warm bath/shower) and only very limited on myself as the soap and even the town water dries out my skin. At my parents place on the farm we have dam water, it is so soft and never dries skin out even with long hot showers/baths. For baby, I always add cammomile tea to soften and improve the water. I think that most hospitals operate on a biomedical system - not often holistic or even healthy.