Conventional baby oil is made from mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil is sometimes called liquid paraffin (or Paraffinum Liquidum) as it closely resembles melted wax. You will find it listed by either name as an ingredient on product labels.
Mineral oil is a by-product of the petroleum industry, which translates to it is derived from crude oil. Make no mistake, it is not environmentally-friendly nor baby-friendly. Pictures you may have seen of an oil spill in water gives a visual of the environmental part of the issue. As well, many believe that using mineral oil on your child’s skin is akin to wrapping the tot in plastic wrap as skin really can’t breathe properly when doused in petroleum oil. Worse, is that mineral oil is a suspected carcinogen according to some environmental experts and in recent years mineral-based baby oil has caused horrific, unspeakable injuries to at least one baby and death to others.
So I am convinced that there may not be a more frightening ‘baby’ product available. As it is always best to know all the risks associated with a product so that you can make the best decision for your family, here are some details:
In 1985, a 15 month old boy suffered horrible injuries after he drank baby oil oil and inadvertently got some in his lungs. The boy lived but is reported to live today in a state where he cannot move his arms or legs as they are stiff and spastic. He cannot speak and suffers mental retardation. A lawsuit ensued, the details can be seen here.
And in 2001, a 16 month old boy died in the US after swallowing baby oil and also getting some into his lungs. According to this account, It took 28 days for the end to come, when he suffocated to death. Sadly, it was reported that doctors could do nothing to help him once the oil got into his lungs.
And in the news this past summer, a 14 month old girl in California died after ingesting baby oil. Reports of the tragedy, confirm the baby’s mother said that it took a split second for her daughter to get the baby oil and ingest it. Little Mya Rose lived for a number of weeks then passed away earlier this month.
The bottom line was that the parents in each case claimed they had no idea that this product was a hazard to young children and thus, it was not treated as a potentially dangerous substance in their home. I have to admit that when my kids were babies I had no idea either and had baby oil in arm’s reach of the change table. And even though it makes perfect sense that a child could aspirate on an oil, I had no real thoughts of the inherent danger either.
The early cases were apparently integral in putting in place laws regarding child-proof lids on products that could possibly injure children. However the danger still exists, so it is good to know that better alternatives exist to soothe your child’s skin without the potential risk of asphyxiation.
What’s the alternative? For a baby’s behind, choose a good quality all-natural (non-liquid) balm made from soothing, plant-based oils such as olive and jojoba. I like Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balm or Bottoms Up! Diaper Balm. The Magic Balm has multi-uses for soothing all dry, irritated skin so is good for the entire family. For a cream-based skin soother, I know tons of mamas who love the all-natural Original Sprout’s Scrumptious Baby Cream. It definitely works well at soothing chafed skin and the scent is very close to the scent of conventional baby oil. Interestingly, the entire Original Sprout baby line seem to elicit almost a cult-like following by moms in the know. And for an unscented option,a good option is Dr. Robin For Kids Daily Moisture Cream. As it’s a great moisturizer developed by a doctor for children with super-sensitive or eczema-prone skin. And as the scent is not specifically ‘baby’, it a good choice for anyone in the family to use. And a tube lasts a long, long time. Yippee!
If you have a personal favourite baby or toddler skin soother, feel free to let me know. I always love to hear what other parents use on their wee ones skin. And please, please do pass this information along to anyone who may benefit from the info in hope this NEVER happens to another baby EVER.