Is Baby Powder Safe?

Once in a while, I do see babies dolled up in powder from head to toe! Some parents also apply powder on their baby’s bottom to prevent diaper rash. Who does not like the heavenly smell of baby powder on an infant? However, is using baby powder safe?

For the past three decades, pediatricians have warned AGAINST the use of baby powder.

Why is baby powder usage discouraged?

Baby powder is mainly composed of talcum powder (talc) or corn starch. Talc is a clay material that contains finely ground magnesium silicate. Breathing in talcum powder can cause breathing difficulties in babies and severe lung complications. These effects are more detrimental to premature babies and those with underlying heart and lung disease.

When the baby powder is used over the diaper area, it can cause skin irritation from a build-up especially around the skin folds.

How about baby powder containing corn starch?

Generally, all forms of baby powder are not recommended. This is because it is challenging to prevent powder from being dispersed into the air during application which may result in accidental inhalation.

What are the alternatives?

To keep a baby’s skin moist and prevent diaper rash, use a moisturizer which is free of fragrances, dyes, parabens and phthalates. Sometimes, simple petroleum-jelly based product like Vaseline is good enough.

The key point to avoid diaper rash is to change soiled diapers frequently. Another option is by using diaper cream for every change.

For parents who still insist on using baby powder for their children, avoid applying powder near the mouth and nose. For application over the diaper area, apply a very small amount on your hands first before rubbing it on a child’s bottom.

1. Inhalation of baby powder: an unappreciated hazard by P W Pairaudeau et all BMJ 1991 May 18;302(6786):1200-1
2. American Pediatric Association Recommends Against Using Baby Powder by Jay W. Belle Isle January 19 2017
3. Acute Talc Inhalation by Lawson et all Nursing 2012:January 2012-Volume 42-Issue 1-p72



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“There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one.” – Sue Atkins