Truth behind baby powders

Modified: 30 April 2016

As a parent, you may have a million questions running through your mind after your sweetheart is born. One of them is if you can use a baby powder on your infants.

The Answer is “NO”. You always have the habit of dusting baby powder on your baby’s body post-shower and it is a delusion!  Don’t be surprised, they do contain problematic ingredients.

Baby powder is commonly used on babies as a deodorant or to prevent diaper rash. It is composed of either talc or cornstarch. The Majority of powders contain particles which can affect the skin adversely.

According to American Academy of Paediatrics, it is unsafe to use powder on babies because of the risk of respiratory problems. Even small amounts of powder can cause breathing trouble and serious lung damage if your baby inhales the particles, especially in  talc-based powders as they contain small, easily inhaled particles. But corn-starched based powder can be inhaled and do not possess high risks. Cornstarch helps in soothing diaper/nappy rash in infants.

If your baby isn't at high risk and you can use a corn starch powder, but do it sparingly.

Cornstarch Baby Powder - It is best to use a cornstarch baby powder in your baby's diaper area because it will be useful in keeping the area dry. It reduces the friction caused due to the wet diaper rubbing against the baby’s skin. In fact, if you change the diaper at regular intervals then there is no need to use baby powder at all.

Can baby powder treat diaper rash?

People think that baby powder can keep the baby’s skin dry and moisture free. However, it is not the best remedy to treat diaper rash. When diapers are not changed frequently, rashes will occur. Certain disposable diaper contains irritants which are capable of causing skin allergy. In such cases, the problem will persist unless you stop using the specific brand of a disposable diaper which has caused the rash and switch to some other diaper brand. There is no need to use the baby powder all over an infant’s body. It is required the most where the baby skin creases. This includes the underarms, genital area, and neck. 

Sometimes even cornstarch powder can harm an infant. It is particularly true if the baby’s skin is raw from diaper rash. For such infants instead of using baby powder, it is advisable to use a diaper ointment or cream. Similarly when an infant has visible signs of skin infection consulting a doctor is better than applying any baby powder or cream.

If you are still not convinced and want to use a baby powder to keep your baby’s skin soft and smooth then try these natural powders which are talc free.

Burt's Bees: Baby Bee Dusting Powder

This baby powder absorbs naturally on the baby’s skin and is talc free. It keeps skin soft, dry and comfortable with cornstarch. It is clinically proven and pediatrician-tested. It is Non-irritating, safe, and hypo-allergenic.

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Johnson’s Baby Powder, Pure cornstarch

JOHNSON’S® baby pure cornstarch powder with soothing aloe Vera & vitamin e is designed to gently absorb excess moisture on the skin, helping baby's skin feel dry, fresh and smooth. It is dermatologist and allergy-tested. This mild baby powder formula is made with pure cornstarch and clinically proven to be gentle and mild on the skin.

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Little Twig Baby Powder

It is another all-natural baby powder which has a talc-free formula. It contains green clay and cornstarch to absorb moisture and aloe to soothe the skin. It can be used on newborns without hassles. It is phthalate-Free. This extra mild unscented powder makes your baby’s skin Soothing and is Ideal for Sensitive Skin.

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Diaper Rash Powder by Baby Anti-Monkey Butt

It contains cornstarch and calamine formula to make this powder great for your baby’s delicate skin. It is formulated to absorb into your baby’s skin gently and it also avoids diaper rash.
You should use it after each diaper change on your baby.

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But you can still save money by making your own homemade powders for your baby and customize them however you want to. It does need a little effort but it’s all worth it.

DIY homemade baby powder

Recipe 1:

– ¼ cup cornstarch
– ¼ cup arrowroot powder (carried by most grocery stores)
– 1 tablespoon white clay (found at health food stores)

Recipe 2:

– ¼ cup baking soda
– ¼ cup cornstarch

Recipe 3:

– ¼ cup cornstarch
– ¼ cup arrowroot powder

Recipe 4:

– plain cornstarch (what I’m using right now)

Recipe 5:

– plain arrowroot powder


The Ingredients that are given above can be mixed with a few drops of essential oil. Orange, geranium and lavender are all lovely. Store them in mason jars and smaller ones are perfect to use if you nail a few holes in the lid to use as a shaker, but you can also find some pretty glass salt/sugar shakers at low price here.

What not to do While Using Baby Powder?

Here are some things which you should avoid while powdering your baby.

  • Never shake the powder directly on your baby’s body. Take some of them in your hand and pat your baby’s skin gently with it.
  • Make sure you shake the powder from your hand away from the baby so that the baby does not breathe the powder in or get any of it into her eyes. 
  • Don’t allow your baby to play with the powder container and while changing the diaper keep the container away from the baby’s reach. 
  • Don’t use powder on baby's face and nostrils since this can cause breathing problems to your baby and lung complications if inhaled. 
  • Don’t let powder accumulate in the baby’s skin folds. Wipe those accumulated powder gently with a soft cloth during the diaper change.

Using baby powder is good for keeping baby’s skin dry and prevents rashes. Therefore, follow the above mentioned tips to choose a powder for your baby the right way and use it the right way.

Other unknown uses of baby powders

Baby powder isn't just for use on babies.

There are some great alternative uses for baby powder that you might not have thought of: 

  • An easy way to brush off sand - put baby powder on before entering the house or car & it makes the sand really easy to brush off.
  • Cool your sheets in summer - just sprinkle some on before you get in to bed for a cooler experience.
  • Use it as a 'dry shampoo' on yourself or your pet.
  • Dust your fingers before putting on rubber gloves to make them easier to put on.

"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself"

Review written by Ilakkiya Parthasarathy

Born and brought up in Chennai, Ilakkiya is an IT engineer who works as a business analyst. She is an expert when it comes to buying; from pretty dresses to useful gadgets. Her ubiquitous opinions have led her to exhibit her writing skills to the world at large through Review Frenzy.