I grew up in the era of Johnson & Johnson. The trademark pink bottle signifies a baby is near. It feels familiar to me, and the scent smells comforting. Like sweetness. I was given the lotion at my baby showers, along with other baby lotions. But I haven’t used a one. I have only used one moisturizer on my baby’s skin since the day he arrived. I use coconut oil on my baby, and it's magic. Every single other part of parenting is a worry-fest — potty-training? Surely I have messed up my kid for life. Picky-eating? My son's blood has to be 90 percent watermelon — but this I feel good about.
Having a baby is like entering a new world. In this new world, there are only two emotions: joy and fear. Every minute, every moment of life now is a standoff against the two. The moments that I can drown out the fear are the best. Funnily enough, the baby lotions everyone gives you when you get pregnant can be a source of panic. What is in them? Will my slippery baby glide out of my hands? Most lotions on the market have a long list of ingredients. And one of these is often alcohol. Isn’t alcohol DRYING?? The exact opposite desired effect when you are purchasing a moisturizer??
In fairness, alcohol can be found in a ton of moisturizers on the market. This past summer, my husband got sunburnt as hell (he decided not to put sunscreen on his blinding white skin for the 38-mile bike ride we took with friends) and when I went to pick up aloe vera for him, IT had alcohol added to it. (Someone please please please explain to me why that would be.) But I don’t want to put alcohol into my baby’s skin. I don’t want to put chemicals I can’t pronounce into my baby’s skin. Our skin is our biggest organ. An organ, you hear me? The things that we put on our skin literally go into our skin — then into our bloodstream. That terrifies me.
Using coconut oil on my baby makes me feel like I’m doing my best. I’m scared that everything is going to hurt him these days — other people, wolves in the forest, stray shopping carts in the parking lot.
My jar of coconut oil has one ingredient listed. "Ingredient: Coconut oil." Sound insane? Sound crazy? Sounds wonderful to me. My personal stance is: the fewer ingredients, the better.
Coconut oil doesn’t scare me at all. Coconut oil is a diamond in the rough waters of skin-care products. It has nothing but benefits. It’s antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral — the anti’s go ON AND ON. It normalizes blood sugar levels, soothes the GI tract, moisturizes, helps heal scars — this stuff is insane, people! Also, WE CAN/DO EAT IT! I made some coconut cookies a few years ago that nearly made me cry. You could seriously sit down with a spoon and just shovel it in and you would be fine. This is not the case for the mass-distributed baby lotions on the market. A far cry from it.
[I should note here that the coconut oil jar in our house isn’t just used on my sweet little child. I have virtually replaced all of my skincare products with it, as well. I used to buy eye makeup remover. One time I got it in my eye and I thought I would never see again. Eye makeup remover is jam-packed with things for which I could never source the origin. But coconut oil takes off every bit of eye makeup with ease, and with no fear of going blind. I used to buy $20 vegan face creams for use before bed, assuming higher cost meant reduced chance of skin wrinkling. The scents always bothered me and I’m pretty sure my wrinkles are coming in, no matter what. Now I use coconut oil and I sleep like the aging beauty that I am.
I don’t moisturize him very often. Probably about once a month. His skin is delightful all on its own. He’s never suffered from dry skin or recurring rashes, so I have had little to tend to. But every so often, after he splashes half of the water onto the floor during bath time, I cover his tiny appendages in the gently scented oil of coconuts. And it makes me feel like a great mom.
But when he’s on his changing table post-bath, and I’m slathering him in coconut oil, I don’t fear for what I am putting on and into him. I rub his tiny pale-skinned body with the gentlest of movements. I comb his baby hair and breathe him in. I watch him glisten, and revel in feeling like I am doing a great job.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.